16 Ways To Get Fired, And How To Avoid Them (Office 2007 Edition)

23 06 2007

After reading 11 Causes and Cures for Procrastination over at johnplaceonline.com, I thought it might be helpful to write a small list of things that seem to piss people off at the office and how to avoid them.  I know it may seem unprofessional to say “piss people off” in a fairly professional article on how not to get fired, but its the only phrase that seems to capture the idea with any accuracy.  So, please forgive the language, because it was indeed pertinent to the article.

Getting yourself “fired” from an office bureaucracy is actually kind of hard to do these days.  No one wants to go through all the paper work and red tape that it takes to get someone terminated with cause, but it can be done with the greatest of ease if you really piss people off.  You can be the most worthless employee since that guy who has an IQ of 80 and not get fired, but piss people off and you WILL get fired.  You’d be amazed at the extent a company will go in order to get you GONE, just for being a bit of a nuisance to the wrong person.

This list may seem trite or even funny, but its not a joke.  All of these “ways to get fired” have been tested and combined with the result of termination.  I am making this list as much for some old friends of mine as for myself or anyone.  I hope it can help.

16 Ways To Get Fired, And How To Avoid Them:

  • Sitting In Weird Positions at Your Desk/Cube: Sit like a “normal” person and people will not notice you.
  • Looking “Bored” at Meetings/In General: Sit up straight, walk tall and take notes.  Doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, you are trying to escape being singled out.
  • Wearing Headphones/iPod While Walking Around:  Only wear headphones at your desk if its even politically OK at your office.
  • Asking Questions When People Say “Any Questions?”: Just keep you trap shut.  Everyone wants out of the meeting/presentation ASAP and the higher ups don’t like to be questioned.
  •  Animated GIFs in Your Email Signature: Don’t even think about it.  You have no idea what people can be offended by and they make the email’s larger in size which fills up Windows Exchange servers in minutes.
  • Using The ‘Net Send’ CMD To Say “Hello World” To Everyone in Your Network’s Domain:  It’s fun, but it is just a bad idea.  However, in hindsight its hilarious, of course you’ll be fired by then anyway.
  • Coming In Late:  Always be on time and call before you are supposed to be there if you are going to be UNAVOIDABLY late.  People hate waiting and someone is always watching/waiting.
  • Frequently Calling In Sick:  Yes you are allowed to be ill every once in a while, but all those sick days you accrued aren’t for frivolous use.  People get all weird if you are sick alot, even if you have a legitimate illness AND a doctor’s note in with HR.  You have to be visibly reliable or else you run the risk of being labeled as the opposite.
  • Calling in Sick…Two Hours Late: Not a good idea.  If you even think you are probably going to be sick, call the night before.  Oh and calling in sick does NOT make up for having slept in.
  • Taking 2 Hour Lunches/Naps In Your Car:  You may very well need that nap in the car, but someone is always watching you and you WILL eventually get caught.
  • Automating ALL Your Repettitive Tasks, Then Goofing Off:  Even if you have all your work done, do SOMETHING to look busy.  They’re still watching.  I once read that you should carry a piece of paper wherever you are walking just to look like you are going somewhere.
  • Saying “I’m Bored”: Even if you have all your work done, just never say this out loud or write it down.
  • Wearing an Eye Patch, or Getting A “FauxHawk”: Just don’t.  Trust me on this one.
  • Writting “KILL” As Many Times As You Can In Your Meeting Notebook:  Even if you hide secret “happy messages” in the giant list of “KILL”, its not funny to anyone else.  Yes they are YOUR notes, but people can see them and tell on you.  No “Tic Tac Toe” either.  Sorry.
  • Reading a Book At Your Desk:  Even if its a programming book that will help you save the company millions of dollars, people want you to look like you are working on COMPANY work.  If need be, take the book home and finish your code there.
  • Asking Anyone to “Back You Up”:  This is a persons JOB you are putting on the line here, even if you really are in the “right”, that’s what people will see it as.  No one has your back.  First rule of business, “Cover Thine OWN Posterior At All Times”.

If your wondering, yes I know the people who did these acts and which combinations got them fired, a few have high paying office jobs right now after recovering from getting fired.  You also may notice that I use the phraise “someone is always watching YOU” several times.  That’s because its true.  Even if you don’t know it, somebody hates you at your office.  They hate you and they are watching you ALL THE TIME, just so they can tell “the boss” or a high powered friend about how much YOU piss them off and why.

Its all horribly true.  You may feel like you can’t be YOU at the office after reading this, but you can.  The key is to stay off everyone’s radar.  If your cube is in a high traffic area, try to get moved.  If you need to express yourself, do it with office toys and other knick knacks that stay in your cube and don’t offend or bother anyone.  If you get bored, that means you need a better challenge, perhaps a bigger assignment or task bosses love people who ask for a bigger chunk of work.  It may also be time to move on to a new job.  Who knows, your dream job may be just around the corner, but you can’t get that dream job while trying to collect unemployment insurance.  Jobs are like houses or girlfriends, you don’t want to lose your current one until you have another one in your grasp or at least in your sights, and you never want to leave the old one in a poor disposition.  You never know who you’ll wind up needing in the future.

Playing along with the political games that go on at the office, or “playing ball”, may seem like a waste of energy and time, probably because these games are wastes of time and effort, but they must be paid lip service at the least.  “Playing ball” is the equivalent of cleaning your toilet at home, it sucks big time, but it has to be done in order for life to move on.

One last thing, turn your IM notification sounds OFF!