Frequent firings points to you - not the companies


Jackie has changed jobs six times over the last ten years. Tom has been fired three times over the last seven years. The Jackies and Toms may be your relative, your neighbor or your best friend’s husband, but they usually all have the same thing in common: They are never at fault. 

As Jackie tells it, her boss was too demanding, her co-workers were cliquey or jealous, her boss played favorites, the expectations were unreasonable, her boss was a jerk, and other similar refrains.  

Tom is in sales and his story takes on a familiar quality, too. After his draw expires and he has to rely on straight commission, he begins complaining about the scoreboard. The quotas are too high, the territory isn’t fair, the boss is a jerk, the company is screwing him… 

Instead of looking at themselves in the mirror, it’s easier to find fault with the person holding the mirror. Are their egos so fragile that they can’t admit they may have contributed to their own demise? Or, are their egos so inflated that they can’t believe they are capable of any wrongdoing? In either case, the end result is the same. They don’t want to hear any negative feedback and so they jump to why the messenger’s motives are evil, or at best, self-serving.  

Of course, we all know some talented, hard-working people who have been fired or quit a job because their boss was indeed a jerk, or the incentives just weren’t right. Those aren’t the people I’m talking about here. The folks who have the long-term pattern are the ones I’m concerned about. Their lack of self-awareness dooms them to a career that goes nowhere.  

Here are some things to consider if you have been derailed a few too many times, or you’ve left more than a few jobs:

  • The last time you received feedback on something your manager wanted you to change, did you sleep on it and think about it, or did you reject it out of hand?
  • When was the last time you said, “That was my fault,” or “I take responsibility for that error”?
  • Have you ever gone into your manager’s office and asked what you could do to improve your performance, or take on more responsibility?
  • After you were fired, did you replay the details of the event and come up with anything you could have, or should have, done differently?
  • When you got your last performance review, did you acknowledge and understand why you got the rating you did? Did you make an action plan to improve in the future?
  • Do you socialize with people who are good performers, or do you hang around with people who complain about management?
  • When you have the freedom to do a little extra—better service, a pleasant attitude, stay late to get something done—do you do it? Or, do you reject it because you think, “Why should I do that for them?”
  • Do you spend more time complaining about the scoreboard, than trying to perform up to its standard? 

If this quiz makes you uncomfortable, perhaps this hard look in the mirror will do you some good.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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