Getting Fired

by Mr. Cheap

For those who may have missed the announcement, krystal from “Give Me Back My Bucks” was fired last week. I’ve been wanting to write something on her blog, or e-mail her, or post something but have been holding off as the last thing I want to do is make her feel worse (so its more important than usual to actually make sure I express what I want to convey).

To shift the conversation back to me (which I love to do), I’ve been fired twice. I’ve “mutually gone separate ways” from other jobs / contracts more than twice. It sucks.

I was sitting around one time with a group of people (this was after I’d been fired once), and they were all stating with pride that they’d never been fired. I kept my mouth shut and nodded approvingly as they patted themselves on that back. This felt really crappy.

To shift from a depressing topic to a more depressing topic (happy Canadian Thanksgiving!) supposedly miscarriages are far more common then people realize. No one talks about them, so people are shocked when they lose a baby, then traumatised and they never talk it. This makes it even more painful for couples in the future who go through the same thing without warning (its a vicious cycle). I think getting fired is similar. Lots of people probably go through it, then they keep their mouths shut and don’t talk about it. Then people who do get shit-canned feel like they’re the only ones its ever happened to and that makes them feel even worse about an already crappy experience.

After getting fired the second time I had, not necessarily what I’d call a breakdown but definitely an “extended period of self-reflection”. I spent about 6 months playing Everquest, drinking instant french vanilla coffee and eating bagels with cream cheese (I wasn’t working and lived off of my savings during this time).

I think possibly these two negative experiences early on contributed to my aversion to 9-5 work and why I want to ideally be financially self-sufficient, or at the very least be captain of my own ship when it comes to earning a living. To this day, if I’m having a bad day and I see “higher ups” at a company I’m working at talking discretely I start getting paranoid.

Getting back to you Krystal. You’re a super-star! Your blog is proof of what a great communicator you are, and you shouldn’t doubt yourself because some silly people at a company thought you needed to be part of their clique. As much as North American society puts a large emphasis on our job and skills in our chosen profession, you’re more than what you do, and don’t let arbitrary staffing decisions at some company lead you to doubt yourself. Perhaps this company is being incompetently run, maybe they’re total idiots who are hurting themselves by letting you go, only time will tell…

Its great that you’ve jumped right back on the wagon at your old position, it sounds like they’re happy to have you back, which says nothing but good things about you. Perhaps 10 years from now you’ll look back and decide that not wasting any more time at your old company is the best thing that ever happened to you. I’m doubtful (having gone through the experience myself) that spending a lot of time doubting yourself will lead you to any great insights or understanding. Bad things happen to good people unfortunately.

Happy Thanksgiving Krystal and congratulations on the terrific person you are and all the wonderful things you have to be thankful for!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FourPillars

Interesting post!

Can we assume that you are not a fan of the show “The Apprentice”? :)

Mike

2 telly

There are so many so-called “failures” people won’t admit to, and you’re right, it’s unfortunate because it makes others feel inadequate.

In truth, I’ve never been let go but it’s happened to my husband twice (one only two months after he started the new job in one case!). In my industry, lay-offs are very, very common which is why it helps that my husband and I essentially live off one income. The last time they cut heads around here, no one worked the entire day, we just kept waiting for our director to direct us into the conference room where the bloodshed was happening! It’s a horribly uncomfortable feeling for everyone.

3 Mr. Cheap

Mike: I think my head would explode if I were ever on “The Apprentice” ;-).

telly: unfortunately its the same in the software industry. I’m a big believer in accountability and not providing jobs to people who don’t want to work, but I often think industry may have swung too far in the other direction (where firings are so arbitrary sometimes that it doesn’t make sense to invest in your career at your current company).

There’s a price to be paid if employers and employees both get too mercenary.

4 telly

Mr. Cheap:

In the past almost 8 years at my company I’ve seen many of my co-workers get the axe. There have been about 4-5 rounds of cuts in that time and almost inevitably, they go on a hiring spree about 3-4 months later. It’s no wonder people generally don’t stick around with the same company for very long anymore.

Unfortunately, in a cyclical industry, it’s about the quarter or year-end bottom line and sometimes they just need to get “heads off the books”. As unemployment continues to shrink, they won’t have the luxury to cut a head or two for a few months and then re-hire. Ultimately, it’s a very expensive practice for short term thinking.

5 SavingDiva

I haven’t been fired, but I have been rejected by schools…I applied last year and didn’t get into a single one. It was hard…I felt like a real loser…it’s rough…I’m trying to get over it and apply again…

6 nancy (aka money coach)

Fired thrice and *$&^ proud of it! Good heavens. Thank goodness for firings. If I hadn’t been fired I could still be ….
1. a telephone marketer – one of those people who ruin your suppers (I lasted 4 hours)
2. working as a bank teller (didn’t pass my probation. couldn’t balance at the end of the day to save my life)
3. ok this wasn’t ‘fired’ per se, it was ‘downsized’ (but I still took it personally) – crunching registration numbers at a small esl college that completely collapsed 2 years after I was ‘let go’.
In between were some pretty terrific experiences (like going back to university) and I’ve had a couple wonderful career positions since then – and now have my own business, the ‘crowning glory’ imho.
Fired shmired, I say.

7 Gates VP

Hey Cheap, aren’t you like making 65k now? Isn’t that like more than the median Canadian family? (not just those under 30) Seems to me that you’re doing pretty darn good for a guy who’s been fired twice!

As to the fire/hire cycles mentioned by Telly, it’s just part of the game. For some bigger companies, the spree is never-ending, but even then it’s becoming standard procedure for some companies. Especially in the Knowledge Worker fields, it’s becoming well-known that top producers make like 10-50% more but deliver 2-10x more productivity (IT is a great example here).

Good, big companies don’t cut top producers, they cut the fat and try to hire better replacements. If you look up GE or Six Sigma processes you’ll get a better feel for what’s happening here. The goal is to cycle out the chaff or just “the mistakes”.

If you look at Krystal’s company (even though they’re not really big), this is pretty much what’s happened to her. The company puts people on a test drive for 3 months and mercilessly cuts the ones they don’t want. In Krystal’s case it sounds quite distinctly like she wasn’t the person they wanted for the job, even if she was quite competent and capable.

Hiring people is expensive, but hiring the wrong people is also expensive. We’re all familiar with the first case (McDs, Walmart), but very few people are familiar with the second case b/c very few companies spend lots of time correctly grooming their staff.

So Krystal was just “groomed out”. They didn’t really fire her, they just took her for a test drive and put her back before firing her became too expensive. They didn’t tell her that she sucked, they just told her she wasn’t right, which is about as soft a rejection as you can get.

I’m guess that they did this because they “made a mistake”, so to speak. They probably didn’t pick the right person, so Krystal’s capacities didn’t really matter.

8 Gates VP

(I just re-read my own post, I should add)

Krystal don’t take it personally!

9 Mr. Cheap

Gates: I was just thinking “Krystal is going to KICK his ass!” ;-).

Surprisingly I never bring up getting fired twice at interviews so it hasn’t really factored into my current career / salary level ;-).

10 Krystal

It’s surprises me that so many people have come forward to let me know that they too have been fired/let go/etc. before. I suppose nobody really likes to talk about the time they got fired, but it is reassuring to know that capable people are let go all the time. Just like Gates VP said, Mr. Cheap is making $65k/year, which is a pretty darn good salary for someone who’s been fired twice!!

Also, Gates VP, don’t worry, I didn’t take it personally. :)

11 mel gerard

I have never NOT been fired. In advertising and marketing, it’s very common for a job to last about 8 months, then you’re fired. I’ve come to the conclusion that the business world does not want talent or creativity, common sense or logic. They want a roomful of dweebs or ‘happy slaves’ who are hard workers, low earners, and subservient.

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