General Question

sunrunner's avatar

Generally speaking, what are the attributes which people who get fired tend to share?

Asked by sunrunner (117 points ) December 1st, 2010

Grim topic, but I work in a field with a lot of turnover, and often hear of people who get fired (not laid off), although I am always disturbed and befuddled (and paranoid…), as these people seem perfectly competent, talented and driven, but for various reasons turn out not to be a “good fit” (a very convenient HR rhetorical device). Obviously, this will vary depending on the circumstances—specific industry, job, and supervisors, etc.—but I’m wondering what are the most common factors, sequences of events, personality traits, behaviors, actions, etc. which get some people fired. Does anyone have any stories of coworkers, friends, etc. who got fired for a particular reason? I’m interested—and want to learn from their mistakes.

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26 Answers

mrlaconic's avatar

I work in a call center and though I am not on the phones I do work with people are. Most people do a great job and have been there for sometime. However there are those who get fired and I would say the thing that those people have in common is the inability to keep there cool… if a customer calls in and is an asshole unfortunately, you really just have to take it.. but if you snap back.. you are gone, I’ve seen it happen over 100 times.

FutureMemory's avatar

I’ve been fired twice, both times for extreme tardiness. Most people I know that have ever been fired were given the axe because of coming in late or calling in sick too often.

jonsblond's avatar

Getting injured on the job and failing a piss test, not showing up for work on time, bad attitude.

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Kraigmo's avatar

Negative people who get fired tend to be: tardy a lot, absentee a lot, or have low production

Positive people who get fired tend to be: victims of “progressive discipline”, seemingly have low production, lack of “team player” attitude, lack of cheerful attitude.

The real reasons for being fired are not necessarily the listed reasons on the termination notice.

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john65pennington's avatar

There are many possibilities as to why a person is fired. criminal activity at work, constantly late for work, not a team player, abusing company equipment, bad attitude, non-productive, drugs and alcohol useage, rumor starter, and the list goes on.

In my 44 years in uniform, i was late to work twice. this was because of ice and snow and an accident on the interstate. try to arrive at your work at least 15 minutes early. your employer will notice and take mental note of this. “do a little more than is required of you”. volunteer sometimes for extra duty or a job no one wants to take. stand your ground, if you are right. your employer will not hold this against you. it shows good leadership. be a team player and make no waves, unless you are physically assaulted. in other words, go with the flow and not be a s__t starter.

The above worked for me for many years. last, but not least, is a smile and a good attitude. everybody likes to work with an employee that laughs a lot. it’s good for morale for everyone.

marinelife's avatar

There are no general traits that people have for getting fired, but there are some common reasons.

1. Poor or spotty attendance.

2. Failing to get along with others. Co-workers and supervisors.

3. Drug or alcohol abuse.

4. Revealing company confidential information.

filmfann's avatar

I have never been fired, but I have worked with a lot of people who have been fired.
they all should have seen it coming, but none of them changed their behavior in any meaningful way to keep their jobs. The guys who were in trouble for doing crosswords on the job, kept doing it. Those who were driving out of their routes, kept doing it. Those who were drinking, doing drugs, letting their anger explode on others, or sexually offending coworkers, kept doing it even after the managers made it clear to them that it had to stop.

iamthemob's avatar

I think there are more general categories – the entitled, the incompetent, the clueless, and the unfortunate (life intervenes so they can’t do their job as expected) are the major ones that I can think of.

crazyivan's avatar

In my experience as an employer tardiness tends to be the biggest issue, though for a good employee one will often overlook a certain amount of tardiness. I think the more general question here is what defines a “good employee”.

In my opinion this is all about attitude and enthusiasm. Obviously competence is a prerequisite, but assuming all the employees have that, the person that I will keep through thick and thin is the person with the best attitude and enthusiasm. If you’re inconsistent in your performance or if you’re unwilling to do things that fall outside of your “job description” without adopting a bad attitude, you’re much more expendable than a person who has those qualities but arrives 10 minutes late twice a week.

Obviously the criterion change based on job and employer, but enthusiasm and a consistently positive attitude are very likely the holy grail of employability.

Cruiser's avatar

Tardiness, slacking on the job, bad attitude and stealing. Stealing can be in various forms of stealing. Aside from physically removing items such as product, merchandise, or supplies, stealing of time is a biggie. Bosses are most sensitive to personal calls, family issues spilling over into work time, having to run home or stay home for the kids or spouse, needing extra time off, fucking off on the computer while at work. So this means 99% of us who are here on line right now including me!! XD

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I couldn’t say. I’ve only been fired once. The day after I told my boss I was pregnant.

wundayatta's avatar

I have been fired or laid off maybe four times. Employers often seem to call it a lay-off when they want to be nice about getting rid of you. The first time I was fired was because I couldn’t do the work. I was utterly miserable there, and I easily went back to the job I had before.

The second time, it was due to a merger, and my department was eliminated. The third time, they told me that I was never the one they had in mind for the job. The latest time, there was no more work for me, and he just let the research department go. I had been miserable there for a couple of hears so it was a relief to get out of there.

Ah, so many reasons. Some having nothing to do with the employee and others having to do with the changing needs of the employer, and you no longer fit into their business plan.

But I think the answer to this question is, when you have the skills and are fired anyway, and your company isn’t being reorganized in some way, then it’s because you don’t fit the culture. Most likely in those cases, you are happy to be gone, or would be happy to be gone if it weren’t for the pay. No one is happy when you don’t fit the culture.

Oddly, I’ve noticed a lot of people fired in this way blame the employer.

janedelila's avatar

@Cruiser not me! I’m home on the couch in flannel pajamas, the remote to the tv, and a big cup of tea. Sent home sick from work.

Kayak8's avatar

As a manager in a situation with many union employees, we have progressive discipline. Most often, the folks who are let go have a long history of non-performance, minimal performance, etc. As stated above, some folks have personalities that don’t “fit,” but in a union environment, they are entitled to keep their positions. You really have to be abusing the system (and have a manager who is a stickler for appropriate documentation) to lose your job in a collective bargaining environment.

The common things I see include:

Repeated failure to notify the supervisor for being late or absent.
Frequent absences on Fridays/Mondays or before/after a holiday.
Substance use on work time
Defrauding by incorrectly showing time worked (this is essentially stealing).
Bringing a weapon into the workplace
Sexual harrassment
Engaging in conduct that screams of discrimination

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Arrogant
Egotistical
Insensitive
Overly aggressive.

These people usually feel they will automatically be ushered into top hierarchys anywhere they go and often don’t ‘play the game’ to observe existing pecking orders before pushing in to “fix things”. When they’re fired then they often feel they’ve been misunderstood as being too passionate and not given enough free reign to accomplish stuff or that they’re abilities are a threat to the status quo. Sometimes it’s true.

ftp901's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Those are the qualities of people in my office who seem to get the farthest. I would describe some of the managers in my office as all of the above (only one I would say is agressive). The people whose ideas are listened to the most and make the most money in my office are also the most arrogant, egotistical and insensitive of the bunch and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon.

beaaach's avatar

Substance abuse .. people use all their sick leave, and are habitually late, or unable to complete tasks. Or they don’t fit in with others, lazy or know it all. Younger people get canned for socializing with friends or giving products to their friends. Theft is a biggie,

crazyivan's avatar

Great point, @beaaach… People who take a sick day every time they get the sniffles tend to be on the short list.

Gabby101's avatar

Besides incompetence, it generally has something to do with not making the right people happy. No matter what, you need your boss to like you are you’re going to have a hard time at work.

I would also say that people that actually get fired are not very sensitive to what is happening around them or they would leave before they got fired.

food's avatar

I suppose not being able to follow workplace politics successfully would fall into the not fitting into the organizational culture category…

food's avatar

That’s a question, by the way…

food's avatar

I’ve also heard that if you want to make it less probable for you to get fired, that you should always treat your work with a sense of “urgency”, including managing workplace politics….

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