8 Signs That You’re Setting Yourself Up To Be Fired

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Taylor Tobin1.84k
April 22, 2024 at 10:26AM UTC

In many cases, losing your job occurs because of circumstances beyond your control. The company may be experiencing budget cuts, your department may no longer serve the company’s new priorities, or a newly-hired supervisor may wish to bring in her own staff and manage out the workers she inherits. These situations all fall under the category of “layoffs”, and they’re frequently impossible for an employee to prevent.

“Firing," however, typically happens “with cause," meaning that the fired employee has done something (or failed to do something) to prompt their own dismissal. Reasons for firings can vary wildly depending on the company and the manager in question, but if any of these 8 behaviors seem familiar, then you may want to adjust your actions at work to avoid that final summoning to your boss’s office.

1. You’re missing deadlines.

According to Business Insider, the number-one reason behind employee firings involves a less-than-ideal performance from the employee in question. Supervisors rely on their reports to uphold standards set by the company and by management, and if you’re consistently falling behind and failing to meet clearly-defined deadlines, then your boss may question whether you’re able to meet her expectations for your role. If the missed deadlines are a regular occurrence that compromise your effectiveness, then they could be grounds for termination.

2. Your communication speeds have slowed way down.

Most workplaces rely on speedy communication- both internally and externally- to complete tasks and meet goals in a timely fashion. Therefore, if an employee stops responding to emails on a regular basis or fails to return phone calls, these actions can negatively impact the company’s bottom line and cause management to become wary of your ability to be a useful member of their team. 

3. You’re conducting a lot of personal business on company time.

In a lot of offices, taking a moment to check your personal email or to respond to a text message won’t adversely affect your work flow or your boss’s estimation of your performance. However, if you frequently spend sizable chunks of your day on activities that have nothing to do with your job-related duties, then your boss may rightly reconsider keeping you on board.

4. You’re taking time off in excess or at inconvenient times for the company.

Employees who receive paid time off as part of their compensation packages shouldn’t hesitate to make use of it, and even if your workplace doesn’t offer PTO, you should feel empowered to take unpaid days off when necessary and beneficial. That said, it’s important to remain aware of your company’s calendar and, when possible, to avoid scheduling time off during particularly busy periods at work. An employee who takes more time off than permitted or who always schedules their PTO for especially hectic stretches (without arranging coverage or otherwise helping to mitigate the impact of their absence) generally doesn’t come across as an indispensable employee to their supervisor.

5. You’re disrespectful to management.

“Insubordination” doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to disagree with your manager (or, at least, it shouldn’t mean that in any functional workplace). But if you outright refuse to follow managerial instructions without explaining your reasons or if you defy direct requests to cease a particular behavior, those moves make it difficult for your supervisor to do her job, and her method of solving the problem could cost you your employment.

6. You don’t see anything wrong with “borrowing” company property.

This one does depend on your company culture; some workplaces don’t care if employees take home reams of printer paper or keep a company iPad at home for personal use. But if your office environment doesn’t share that attitude, then you can be penalized for swiping company property, with consequences up to and including termination.

7. You lie to clients and/or coworkers.

It should go without saying that employers value honesty in their employees, and if you’re caught lying to a client or to a colleague, that can indeed count as a fireable offense. In fact, some employers will even fire you if they spot a lie on your resume after you’ve been hired. Your boss needs to trust you, and if you say something that calls that trust into question, then she’s well within her rights to relieve you of your duties.

8. You become overly involved in office gossip and politics.

As with borrowing company property, excessive involvement in office politics varies from workplace to workplace. But as a general rule of thumb, delving into interpersonal issues between coworkers that don’t directly affect you can raise concerns about your ability to respect boundaries and to keep your attention focused on your work.


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