We’re Letting You Go.
Heard that one recently?
Maybe it’s been paired with “sorry, it’s budget cuts/COVID/Brexit/Gas prices/*insert unhelpful buck-passing reason here*.”
Whatever it is, it’s a shame, but it’s probably gonna be the making of you – and I wish someone would have told me this 20 years ago.
I’ve held an extraordinarily high number of jobs, mainly before 2005.
I worked in catering and hospitality, customer services, youth and community services, office administration, and sales…and I’ve been fired from almost every single one.
If I haven’t been fired, then I’ve walked. I would never have been labeled a “quiet quitter,”…and as you can probably tell, I’m okay with that.
Working for others generally didn’t last more than 6 months in a single position. My record for the least amount of time I’ve held a job is 2 hours and 25 minutes. I turned up at 9 am; by 11:25 am, I had walked. My tolerance for poor management had worn thin, especially on that day. This makes me the self-proclaimed proud title holder of “Worst. Employee. Ever,” but we’ll get to that in a moment.
You might think I have an issue with authority, and you might be correct.
However, it’s not so much an issue with authority as it is with poor leadership choices and misuse of power. This, combined with the inability to recognise your responsibility. I guess my issue is with wasted talent and energy. Mine in particular.
I like to work hard, but I also want to ensure my hard work results in something worthwhile. Therefore, where possible, I like to work smart, finding efficient and effective systems that allow my colleagues and me to do a great job in as little time as possible.
I’ve found that my superiors in several service industries didn’t like me doing stuff like that because it’s not billable. Similarly, I would remove their ability to coast, to wait out those 8 hours every day, being ‘busy’ with little to show. I wanted shit to do, and I had questions. I annoyed the living daylights out of management. Not the owners or executives, mind you; they loved me, as you can probably imagine. But management? They wanted me dead.
Now, if you hold a supervisory or management position in a service industry and want to turn up to work and coast all day, by all means, go ahead. Just don’t hire me – because I will call you out if it affects my ability to do my job efficiently. Yep, I’m that employee…and ultimately, authority hates me. Employment hates me.
Listen, I’m miles from perfect.
Maybe I could have articulated my thoughts and feelings towards my bosses a little better, changing this:
“…are you KIDDING ME? This is an absolute shambles. Why aren’t we using a spreadsheet for this rather than having parts of numbers scribbled on Post-its? Post-its that Barry is currently using to catch his freakin’ bagel crumbs? Seriously, please tell me this is as backward as it gets? PLEASE!…”
“I wonder if I might share my ideas on how we could make our systems here more efficient? I had some thoughts on what we could do to allow us as a team to be much more productive and to help you as management communicate the figures to head office more easily.”
…yeah, I get it.
As I’ve aged, I’ve become considerably less hot-headed…
or rather, I’ve become markedly better at thinking before I speak. Nowadays, my diplomacy is admirable – a far cry from the outbursts it used to be. That being said, I’m still not great at it. Every so often, my “WTF” brain wins the battle, and I blurt out exactly what’s on my mind. This is an ongoing process, and I certainly admire all of you who can hold down a job smiling through the moronic behaviour of some of your supervisors.
It’s probably why I was destined to be my own boss. If you’ve heard me speak or been on a call with me, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m the world’s WORST employee. Of course, everyone laughs when I say that, like it’s an over-exaggeration. And I’m out here as serious as a heart attack.
If you’ve been fired or even “managed out,” I know how disheartening this can feel. I also know how much it knocks your self-confidence and self-esteem. It can be easy to fall into the “da fuc’ am I gonna do now? I can’t even get a reference!” ditch.
The end of the world?
Nah. Not even close.
I’ve never had a reference from an employer but continued to get hired during my vicious cycle of un/employment. This is because I interviewed well and demonstrated the skills they were looking for. That is until I turned up for work and started asking questions.
I should also add your professionalism during and before this transition will feed your future. If you’ve had a solid work ethic throughout, and you’ve shown up every day with your game face on, you’ll be surprised by how that gets you noticed and how memorable that makes you. I have had instances where I’ve been fired, only to be called up years later and offered a leadership position by a former colleague who’s now running a company.
But, I’m not here to encourage you to get back on the ‘dutiful employee’ horse; I’m here to enable you to grab this opportunity by the cojones.
Being fired is a blessing in disguise.
I’m here to tell you to turn those lemons into a gin and tonic:
Step 1 — Don’t panic.
Whatever your circumstances for losing your job, it’s happened. Move on to step 2 immediately.
Step 2 — Process what has happened.
Take a moment to understand that you are no longer working in that role. Be honest with yourself about the situation and assess objectively. You’ll feel a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s essential to connect with them, but you also want to focus your energy on thinking forward. What are the opportunities available to you now that weren’t available when you were working 7 am – 7 pm for “Dickheads inc.”? I always find that knocking ten bells out of a punching bag helps me to think forward. You might have a strategy that’s slightly less aggressive. Whatever works for you.
Step 3 — Think about your immediate actions.
You will need to be realistic about what happens in the short term. Re-think personal budgets and prioritise spending if necessary. I understand that Fendi might ease the pain for the moment, but that credit card bill will hit hard next month. As a priority, make looking for your next opportunity your new full-time job — wake up, get dressed, and show up for yourself. And now that I’ve planted that seed (and depending on your circumstances,) this might also be the perfect time to go solo as a consultant… like you’ve been thinking about for months now, huh?…
Step 4 – Consider making your next move the move you want to make.
If (like me) you’re a serially fired employee, who knows — maybe the problem is you? And, if the problem is indeed you, this shouldn’t be a problem for you – nah mean? The consulting world is full of outliers and non-conformers who recognise their powerful personal experiences and expertise. They’re mostly hired for the unique set of skills they bring to the table, and, interestingly, you have a unique set of skills that you bring to the table (whether you realise this or not.) Do you want to go back into employment? Sure, the pay is consistent, and you generally know what you get when you log in daily. For most people, that’s precisely what they need. I’m not saying the consulting/freelancing game is easy or for everyone, but if you’re still reading this, I’m guessing you’ve figured out that you’re made for more. Lean into that – even if you don’t decide to go it alone. You might recognise the value you can bring to another business or organisation and negotiate the deal you deserve during your next recruitment journey.
Step 5 — Continue onwards and upwards wid yo’ bad self.
Optimism is key. Self-belief is mandatory. The future is calling — answer it.
Something to think about, amirite?