Why Good Employees get Fired

Introduction

Why fire a good employee? Many people have asked themselves why it is that very often the good guys get fired. The reasons will ultimately lie in an imbalance in the relationship between you and your employer.

Think about it. When each of you was hired, you were given:good employee gets fired

  • Conditions in which to do the job: office, infrastructure, authority, data base of clients, etc.
  • Objectives related to profits, sales, delivery of products, shareholder value, customer facing milestones, etc.
  • Tools to meet these objectives: staff, computer, colleagues, processes, policies, budgets, guidelines.

It does not matter what kind of job you have – you need these 3 elements to get any job done, always assuming that you had the right skills when you were hired. If and when the above conditions, objectives and tools change and they will for everybody, even good employees will get fired.

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All goes well for some time and then things start to change.

things changeThe combination of any one of following factors can put the company or your employer in a stress mode:

  • Customers start choosing other products/services.
  • Changing attitudes in your staff or colleagues
  • Bosses that change tactics; they want to have a younger workforce, or look at a new generation of workers
  • Competition becomes stronger.
  • Objectives, realistic or not, that have consistently not been reached on a monthly /quarterly basis.
  • The struggling economy had its effect on your employer’s cash flow. Cash flow is the lifeblood in the veins of your company. Cash flow problems if not managed, can kill a company overnight.
  • You were not meeting your objectives or at least it appeared that you were not.
  • Management changes either at the head of the organisation or your boss.

The first thing companies do in this survival mode is cutting back: budgets, staff, training, expansion, sales and marketing activities. Now let us look at some real scenarios one by one.

Scenarios the good ones get fired

New generation workersnew generation comes

When newer and upcoming generations are entering the industries with confidence and high spirits, firms are often lured into drawing them in. But what does that mean? The firm is losing its balance in terms of head count. Then the situation is not far where the number of employees has increased while the work to do is the same. Therefore, if a firm wants to invest in newer and fresh young workers, they will then turn their attention to their existing and long standing employees. These employees, although they did well in their workmanship, will have to take a step back because of the new entries.

Low self esteem

boss has inferiority complexIf your boss is suffering from an inferiority complex, then you could be in problems. He will do anything to overcome this feeling. The minute a boss sees somebody in his staff who is far more talented and skilled than the boss himself, the employee is in trouble and more often than not loses his or her job. Many a good employee has lost a job due to this kind of boss’s behavior.

Favoritism

Sometimes companies land in a situation where a new boss may step in and create new jobs for his or her friends or even family. This is being purely biased. This usually means that other good employees have to make way and get fired. In these cases bosses may just do so because they have all the powerful tools to skillfully sack an employee.

Economic down trend

Almost every company the world over will suffer from an economic down-trend. Sales will go down, lower turnover, lower profits. Employers will be forced to let go of some their valuable employees. The best example could be the slowdown which occurred during the winter of 2009. Thousands of good employees were sacked due to the downgrade.

At-will employee

Especially in the USA a lot of workers are employed on a “free” contract, where an employer has the right to terminate or fire an employee on any grounds. There does not need to be just cause for dismissal. On the other hand the employee is also free to go whenever he or she pleases. This ‘at – will’ employment contract that an employer uses, actually does a great job protecting the firm at all times, leaving the employee in the stress. This construction leads to many loyal and good employees being dismissed prematurely by reasons only the company knows.

What can you do?

Here is what you could do when things start going south and bear in mind that it might not solve all your problems, but it will certainly serve to retain your self-respect and to come out relatively undamaged:

1) Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Act now and find solutions to real problems.

2) Show your willingness to take on more tasks and responsibilities.just be clever

3) Always try and keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Be flexible.

4) Although it will be a big ask, leave emotions out of it and try a businesslike approach. Nobody is going to achieve anything when the discussions become heated.

5) Treat your alliance with your boss like a client/supplier relationship at all times, and I am sure you will do your best to keep that connection positive and balanced.

6) If nothing works any more and your work situation is fully spoiled, do not hold on until your own health is adversely affected. Instead, start looking for other activities, be it another job or start your own business, possibly from home.

Conclusion + recommendation (Video)

Regardless of who you work for, how long it’s been and how much of a great time it’s been for you, how well you have performed, there is always a good chance that an imbalance will occur whether you like it or not and your job may be at risk.

You are now aware that literally anybody is liable to get fired due to altering circumstances within a working environment. For example, nobody will escape the adverse consequences of an economic downturn. Many of us will have to face the boss’ tricks, but it is up to us to come out of health damaging situations relatively unscathed.

There are many things we can do, if only to protect our health and self esteem. The worst thing you can do, actually, is doing nothing at all!

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6 thoughts on “Why Good Employees get Fired”

  1. I was just let go a few days ago and this article makes a lot of sense. I was employed at my most recent role for almost 2 years. As a matter of fact, I was initially hired as an independent contractor but after just 2 months on the job, I was offered full-time employment. Things continued to go in the right direction for more than a year after that. My feedback was almost entirely positive, my first performance review was very good, and I rarely even received constructive criticism.

    But things changed in October 2016 when there was a big announcement about this re-org my company was going through. I remember my boss had told me that they had to put hiring on hold (even though we were understaffed) because they had to wait until that announcement to find out our team’s budget. Considering how busy we were, I didn’t think it could affect my job.

    Then, just after the announcement, my boss began documenting everything I did incorrectly, no matter how insignificant. In January, I was put on a Performance Improvement Plan despite the fact that minus a few mistakes, I was an asset to the company. It listed examples of times my performance did not meet their standards (some of these examples were exaggerated our taken out context) and listed five areas where I needed to improve (they all kind of go hand-in-hand). It said that if I improved to their satisfaction within 60 days, no further corrective action would be taken. However, if I did not improve, there would be further corrective action, up to and including termination. I asked my manager if we could talk about the root cause and mentioned that up until October, things were going smoothly. She gave me one of those long-winded politician-like answers that sounds like it makes sense but when you look back on it, you can’t really grasp what she was actually saying. She used technicalities as justification. For example, she said “Well, I didn’t start managing you until May…” On paper, she did not become my manager until April of last year but I had worked closely with her since my first day.

    Still, I was determined to go above and beyond to show that I was a good performer. I did everything she asked, I took training courses, and I even came up with an idea for a project that could make the lives easier for both our clients and our internal teams and could be even be used as an upsell opportunity (a project she wasn’t that enthusiastic about). But considering I’m human, there were a few minor slip-ups and by minor, I mean things like typos in emails just to her. I asked for clarification on how I will be measured and she’d give me answers like “it’s in the eye of the beholder.” She was the only involved in the decision who was involved in my day-to-day. Whenever I did work under someone else’s direction, it would go completely smoothly. In March, she gave me a mid-PIP review, which documented instances to demonstrate that my performance wasn’t improving. All of these instances were either extremely minor, taken out of context, exaggerated, had a valid explanation, or was listed twice to make it look like I had done more wrong than I actually did. After it came clear to me that my manager did not have my best interest, I thought about reporting her to a third party vendor (I worked for one of the biggest corporations in the country) that investigates claims of wrongdoing within our organization. I decided before filing a claim that I should talk to my manager one more time and tell her why I believed my performance had improved. She said something that surprised me and told me that I should reach out to HR if that’s how I feel and she gave me the names of the contacts in HR to talk to. I sent them two documents, one explaining 50 examples of how my performance had improved, the other was my notes on the Mid-PIP review, describing how each instance was either exaggerated, taken out of context, had a valid explanation, extremely, or listed twice to make it look as if I was making more mistakes than I actually was. One of the HR contacts asked to meet with me to address my concerns and then she set up a meeting with my manager. During this meeting, it seemed that things were turning around again. My manager even admitted that I had improved in certain areas but there were still a few more opportunities for improvement. They told me not to worry about the decision and that I should just focus on improvement. I began to think that maybe, I had been wrong about my manager not having my best interest. For the first three weeks after that meeting, it seemed like everything was back to normal. My manager didn’t mention one mistake and she even began giving me positive feedback. But then on Thursday, 04/20, I went into a what I thought would be our weekly 1×1 meeting. When I first stepped in the room, I saw someone I didn’t recognize. I thought there was another meeting finishing up but the person told me to come in. My manager was sitting next to her and I was pretty sure I knew what would happen. My manager introduced her as someone who does HR for our sister company (she was not one of the HR people she told me I could express my concerns to). Then, she told me that they had decided to move forward with termination.

    Here’s what I’m pretty sure really happened. It was probably announced in October that our team’s budget would be cut and my manager believed that the best way to reduce the budget would be to exit out an analyst and replace him with a coordinator, who could do the same job for a lower salary. There was one other analyst on the team. I’m not sure why she targeted me but it’s possible that she feared I could potentially take her place. The other analyst was fresh out of college so it wouldn’t have been as much of a concern for her. Also, the coordinator was hired in late February, just enough time for ME to train him and help him get adjusted, but no longer. Also, when it was convenient for her, my manager trusted me. For example, she’d ask not to CC me on important emails to clients, she enlisted me as the main point in contact on a high level task, and she trusted me to train people and didn’t oversee the training.

    She exploited all the loopholes and covered all of her bases. In her documentation, she took things out of context without blatantly lying, the PIP stated that I had to improve “to their satisfaction” in order to justify the fact that her biased assessment, she encouraged to me to talk to HR so I couldn’t claim retaliation, I think she even made sure my replacement had the same protected status as me (we both identify as Hispanic or Latino) so that I couldn’t claim discrimination. Then, she went to an HR rep from our sister company to sign off on the termination because she knew that the one who I had originally talked to would have to send the legal team the documentation explaining my side of the story. I have filed a report with our third party vendor and there will be an investigation.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jeremy for sharing your story. First I like to apologise for replying now, as my wife and I are going through a big renovation of our house, so time was a bit short.
      My first reaction to your story is that it is very recognisable. I have been going through the same at one point of my career. The company is re-organising, jobs have to go and you were picked. Maybe higher ups had to choose between you and your boss. So in order to protect herself, your boss started to find all the negatives on you, making small problems into big ones. On the other hand, you might be entirely right that you were picked because of your salary and or threat to your boss.
      I too was put on a performance improvement program and that is just the company’s legal way to get people out of their organisation. Never mind the complete rubbish they put into such a program. At that stage you cannot win anymore, as their mind has already been made up.
      Having you talk to HR is just another diversion, because they are in a split of choosing between two parties. I know by experience that HR is always going to side with management. Management use HR merely as a tool, as I have described here further.
      Because of this, do not put high hopes on the investigation as in the end this company will keep its management structure intact. You have to bear in mind that it is nothing personal, you were just the one that got picked. Unfortunately this happens to many of us. I respect you for putting up a good fight, but know when you can’t win. Your health should not be suffering and I am sure that you can find a better company than this one.

      Also as a part of the legal proceedings, you should have been offered a severance package (this will be in your employment contract). I take it this was done?

      Reply
  2. Great post, Jerry! You are absolutely right – It could happen to anyone at any time, and there often isn’t a whole lot the fired employee can do about it.

    Except plan their revenge.

    Its best not to wait for the proverbial shoe to drop and start preparing. The global economy is not very healthy and it looks like things will get worse before they get better. Finding ways to earn an income online is the smart thing to do. And with any luck (and hard work!), you’ll get to smile and thank the boss when he decides its your turn to go, because losing your job really won’t negatively impact your life if you have an online business. You get fired, and gain your freedom. The boss still has to wake up at the crack of dawn 5 days a week and drag himself to a job that’s stressing him out and making him miserable.

    Success is the best revenge.

    Reply
    • Thanks Kae, a very fair assessment of the article. The most important thing is to take action, whether searching for another job or starting your own (internet) business. Cheers, Jerry

      Reply
  3. Hello Jerry This is a nice little overview of “Why Good Employees get fired” and I like how you introduce your readers to an alternative employment strategy at the end of your post. i.e Wealthy Affiliate, which is a great place to get an online education about how to become a successful online marketer that almost anyone can do if they follow the lessons and implement what they learn.

    Reply
    • Hi Peter, thank you for your interest in and comment to this article. You can see here that what seems like a strange thing first, can still be explained easily. Cheers, Jerry

      Reply

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