Why I Got Fired





Why I got fired (and why you might, too, no matter how great you are)

John Nemo, Contributing Writer
May 21, 2014, 5:38am PDT

Recently, I had coffee with the CEO who’d fired me a few years earlier.

I still remember being floored at being fired. I knew I’d made a big mistake at the time after a long-running dispute with a high-up exec — over the use of social media, of all things — spilled over into a group e-mail where I let my anger get the best of me in front of the entire executive team. Needless to say, it put the CEO in a bad spot.

Still, I didn’t think I’d get fired over it. After all, I’d just gotten a huge raise, had racked up one outstanding performance review after another, and even won a national PR award during my most recent campaign for the organization.

I thought I was bulletproof.

And yet there I was a few hours later, literally shaking as I slumped against the counter in our kitchen, sobbing as the gravity of what happened hit home. Here I was, the sole income earner with a wife and three young boys, and I’d just managed to get myself fired from the highest-paying job I’d ever had. Even worse, it was the height of the 2008-09 U.S. economic recession.

Now, had I read the groundbreaking book ” Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer, I believe I would have seen it all coming.

“Power” is the type of book that will completely reframe how you approach your job, your career and everything else related to your professional life. It could also save your job.

Here’s an example from the book that perfectly describes the scenario in which I was fired:

Politics vs. performance

  • People who had more political skill received higher performance evaluations and were rated as more effective leaders.
  • As long as you keep your boss or bosses happy, performance really does not matter that much and, by contrast, if you upset them, performance won’t save you.
  • One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that good performance and job accomplishments are sufficient to acquire power and to avoid organizational difficulties. Consequently, people leave too much to chance and fail to effectively manage their careers.
  • If you are going to create a path to power, you need to lose the idea that performance by itself is enough.
  • Research shows that job performance matters less for your evaluation than your supervisor’s commitment to and relationship with you.
  • CEOs tend to put loyalists in senior positions, regardless of what past incumbents have accomplished.

Needless to say, I learned an incredibly valuable (albeit painful) lesson about workplace dynamics and power after getting fired.

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