Being terminated from a job is scary. Reality is, it’s not always your fault, but in some cases, there may have been steps you could have taken to prevent it from happening.

There are usually three reasons why you could get fired, says Debra Benton, co-author with Kylie Wright-Ford of the new book, The Leadership Mind Switch. Debra shared with me the ways you can do something about two out of those three reasons. 

These are three reasons you could be fired and what you can do about it:

You lie, steal, or cheat.

Clearly this one is totally under your control. The simple resolution – don’t do it!

The company is doing poorly.

Weak sales or bad management could cause the necessary cutbacks. You likely have little control over either, unless you are the head of sales or the lousy boss in question.

You require more managing than your boss is able to give you.

This one is your own doing and you can do something about it. If you create more problems than your boss can handle, or if you make her job more difficult because you require excessive handholding or coddling, you are likely to get fired.  

Let’s look at this from your boss’s perspective. 

You are hired for one reason: to solve problems. Your function might be as an accountant, machine operator, or a technical advisor; your job is to get done what needs to get done.  

A good boss makes your job objective clear, provides tools to meet the objective, and is there to answer questions and guide you as needed.  

When you don’t listen to your boss, use the tools that are available to you, understand the objective, meet the objective, or abdicate your responsibility for understanding the boss’s needs, she can choose to give you the additional time and attention that others don’t need, or not. Occasionally that is expected and accepted.  

But if you continue to require too much of her time and attention to get your job done, she is going to make the decision to find someone who doesn’t. It’s that simple. 

So what can you do to make sure you don’t require more managing than your boss is able or willing to provide? Understand that your boss has bigger responsibilities over and above just managing you.  

Find out her own job objective and where you can help her. Do the best job you are capable of and check in to see if it met her objectives. Don’t whine, complain, be late on deadlines, spread gossip, or get involved in any activity that causes your boss to stop doing what she needs to do in order to deal with you. 

Yes, there are usually three reasons why you could get fired, and you control two of them. Two out of three isn’t bad!


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Thunderbird School of Global Management Alumna Dana Manciagli '84 is the author of "Cut the crap, Get a job". With her 'Career Mojo' column, Dana is the sole syndicated career columnist for the Business Journal nationwide. Her remarkable profile includes a career in global sales and marketing for Fortune 500 corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Kodak. She has coached, interviewed and hired thousands of job seekers. This article was originally published on her website.

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