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  • Rob Houghton

Three Ways to Get Yourself Fired


I received an email last week from a long-time podcast listener asking me a simple question,” I love my job; how can ensure I never get fired.” GREAT question. First of all, let’s get rid of the obvious ones:


1. Drinking on the job

2. Sleeping with the boss

3. Sleeping with the boss’s wife or husband

4. Sleeping with anyone in the office

5. Lying, Cheating, and Stealing


Sidenote: I have a personal story about Lying, Cheating, and Stealing relating to a trip I made to New York to buy an expensive thoroughbred racehorse ten years ago. It is too long of a story to relay in a blog, so it will be the subject of my next podcast to be released next week.


Here are my The Big Three Reasons:


Lack of Extreme Ownership: This is a big one. In your organization, it is just a matter of time before the Day of Reckoning arrives. This is the organizational restructuring or acquisition that inevitably takes place. In the insurance business, many small to medium-sized agencies are now getting acquired.


What happens next? The best performers stay and the lightweights get let go. You get fired with severance for two weeks. Thank you very much.


How do you avoid this? You become a leader. You extremely own what you do. That’s what leaders do.


You take the time to make sure you set mutually acceptable benchmarks and metrics with your supervisor. Why? Because at the Day of Reckoning, you can demonstrate that you met and exceeded every goal and objective…every metric and benchmark.


You want to own everything you do. Did you make a mistake? You own it. Did your direct report make a mistake? You own it. The executive floor notices those who take ownership. These are the future leaders. They love people who take responsibility. People who do this are rare. You want to be rare. Rare people don’t get fired.


Leaders are rare. Managers get fired.


The Lone Wolf: I raise my hand. I am the quintessential Lone Wolf. I don’t like taking orders from anyone. I get moody and I expect way too much from people. Ever since I was a kid, I never respected authority. But I could always work for a crowd - alone. Hey, just being honest.


My recruiting organization is set up so there is no management whatsoever – all my recruiters operate independently and police and manage themselves. They get their job orders and they execute.


I can lead, but just don’t do well in the people management area. I learned this in my first job with a large public accounting firm and in subsequent positions in large organizations. When left alone, I do my best work.

My calling is that of an entrepreneur and I was fortunate enough to realize this at an early stage of my professional life.


What does this mean for most people who don’t own their own company? It means you have to play nicely in the sandbox. You have to get along with people. You have to work as a team which means you have to be: empathetic, team-oriented, collaborative, patient, process-oriented, communicative and have the desire to work for the greater good of the organization.


If you are not willing and able to do this, get out now - you should be an entrepreneur and start your own company. Otherwise, you won’t make it in the corporate world. Ultimately, you will get fired.


Lack of Self-Improvement: This gets you fired too. If you are not moving forward in your career, you are moving backward. Any professional should be doing everything they can to obtain additional training, learn new skills, and obtain new certifications.


Continually.


Society and the business world are changing at lightning speed and if you are complacent, you will get run over. I see this in the insurance industry. Those who invest the time necessary to obtain their CIC or CPCU or even an ACSR, make 20% more than their contemporaries. They have separated themselves from the pack.


And it is so easy to get this training – almost any skill can be learned via the Internet. You can take an online class from almost any university now in the comfort of your own home. I placed a candidate last year who took a class in Excel spreadsheets last summer over a long weekend and is now THE subject matter expert in spreadsheets in her office doing advanced pivot tables now – she was recently promoted to Senior Placement Analyst and received a $17,250 raise. Nice.


More on this topic including two very funny stories involving lying and cheating in the corporate suite. They are included in the next podcast to be released next week at The Talent & Trust Podcast


Personal Note: Many of these topics result from reader input, so I welcome your comments and suggestions relative to this blog or ideas for a different topic. You can email directly at rhoughton@mrfairfax.com



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