How to Get Fired by Your Employees
And what it costs them
Twice, I’ve fired my boss(es).
I didn’t “quit” — at least not with the negative connotations with which the word is so often freighted. I refused to continue to play their charade, work my ass off and be treated unprofessionally.
In the more recent instance, I couldn’t continue working for those people. The position made me suicidal. Literally. The day after I left, my mood drastically improved, according to myself, my wife, former colleagues from that job I chatted with online and outside friends.
After I emailed my resignation letter, the CEO asked if we could hold an exit interview so she could “learn from this.” Ha! I laughed to myself. Hell, no. Why would I?
If she’s interested in learning, she wouldn’t have sabotaged every strategy I implemented for the position (a new position for them: their first full-time on-staff content developer/writer) to make collaborating with the marketing consultants and coordinators more efficient and effective, even when the others agreed with me.
If she’s interested in taking care of her employees, she would have hired a project manager to balance the workload rather than a consultancy to help build processes an eight-person company doesn’t need and more unprofessional managers who don’t produce deliverables for clients.
Moreover, my people management consulting doesn’t come for free.
It would have been nothing but another opportunity for her to try to guilt me or make me feel as if I was the failure in this situation. At most, like some resignation letters, it would have been an opportunity for me to be extremely passive-aggressive (or even aggressive-aggressive) in telling her quite frankly how I feel about her leadership failures. I no longer offer reasons for leaving or suggestions for improving positions.
But, as a service to others, I’ll offer a few of the suggestions I would’ve given her on improving the working lives of her employees so they don’t continue to fire her. (They’ve lost four employees in recent months, I’ve heard.)
Getting Fired by Your Employees: The Easy Ways
Want your employees to fire you? Try any of these methods:
- Reduce the pay of an employee when she becomes pregnant. Quite coincidental that one employee had her salary reduced by $5,000 because of “varying opinions on her performance” just after telling you she was pregnant. She didn’t come back after maternity leave, unsurprisingly. She took a position at another agency. I’m surprised she hasn’t contacted the Department of Labor.
- Call an employee a liar. It’s a really bad idea to attack an employee’s credibility over a meaningless issue — who last looked at a document hidden in the business’ byzantine Dropbox — about which you have no proof of wrongdoing. I mean, seriously? If you can’t trust your employees — especially those who have been quite open with you — maybe you shouldn’t have any.
- Micromanage and treat your employees like children. I don’t know why this even needs to be said in the 21st Century. Don’t micromanage. Even from a distance, it’s not cool. If you can’t trust your employees to work remotely, maybe you should invest in office space and hire locally. Further, you aren’t your employees’ parents, even if your job title converts to “M.O.M.” when used as an acronym. You hired your employees because they can do the necessary jobs. Let them do them.
- Time every second of your employees’ days. Billable hours are important. The employer I’m talking about didn’t charge clients by the hour, but I understand that having a general idea of the amount of time it takes to complete project tasks (should) help in planning for future projects. That’s understandable. Making your employees time every single second of their days — from checking email to chatting to project work — drags the focus away from completing projects to making sure you log your required 44–45 hours a week. (If they wanted to find employees’ lies, they could probably find them on those time sheets.) As a test, I once timed the amount of time I spent logging my time. That was going too far, they said. It’s their decision, though: do they want their employees to focus on getting things done or ass-in-chair time?
- Fire employees who offer feedback. If your employees can’t express their concerns without you firing them, you should probably reconsider your leadership role.
- Lie to and disrespect your employees. Don’t shade the truth when trying to land a candidate. It will bite you on the ass in the end. If you start out with lies, you can bet the employee isn’t going to start off very loyal.
A Great Way to be Fired by a Writer
Treat your writers like factory robots. If you’re going to run a content marketing company selling businesses on increased leads through blog posts, social media posts and emails, you should probably reexamine that business plan. In my experience, you’re selling manure, at best. (And I say that because it is good to do, but it’s not enough. So, it’s like adding manure but no seeds to your flower garden. And it’s not a good idea to expect those flowers to bloom immediately after planting.) Content marketing isn’t a one-and-done, 24-hours-later-you-have-customers method of gaining leads. Just isn’t. It takes time and commitment.
Writers aren’t factory robots. I pumped out 2,000 or more words a day in articles, sales emails, social media content, web pages, press releases, you name it. I faced the dreaded blank white screen at least twice a day. It was painful. I suppose for others the whole writing thing is easy. It isn’t for me. I may be decent at it, but it isn’t something I can just jump right into. And, once a piece is finished, I need to recharge. That doesn’t mean I need to go work on other tasks, such as managing the company’s social media, developing training documents and videos, managing project timelines in the project management app and other tasks not related to developing content. No, it means I need to recharge before charging back into another piece of writing.
You can demand creativity at an unremitting and ridiculously fast pace, but, ultimately, something is going to give and those goals will not be met. In this case, it was your content developer/writer who left (and, apparently, the last two did, too), leaving you with quite a bit of writing to knock out to keep already-restless clients from bailing.
The Cost to Employees
Complaining about a job and offering snarky suggestions to employers on how to improve their workers’ lives is fun and all (if useless), but let’s get real here for a second:
I don’t want anyone to think this validates free-market conservatives’ oft-proclaimed and always-misguided opinion that the employment agreement made with your boss is fair because you can “fire your boss if you don’t like your job.”
If you don’t like your job and you haven’t found or can’t find a new position, your only other option beyond toughing it out is unemployment. Losing or firing an employee won’t land an employer on the street. But the normal, non-wealthy unemployed person? Well, they’re not quite so protected.
The only reason I could afford to leave that position before I literally killed myself (seriously: every time I closed my eyes I saw a pistol in my hand pointed at my head) is that Misty receives her monthly disability check, we’d built up small emergency and retirement savings (that I’d planned to spend on real emergencies and our actual retirement or maybe even a vacation one day) that tided us over for a few months. Ultimately, our rent, medication costs and other smaller bills would have depleted our savings and we’d have been in a very bad situation.
In fact, in the months after leaving that position, I was invited to many, many interviews but offered no positions.
Sidenote: By the way, if you haven’t been on the job market recently, you’d be surprised how many steps it takes to get to an actual interview nowadays: first the application and resume, then the skills test, then the personality test, then a one-sided video interview, then a phone call with the recruiter or HR and then, maybe, a call or sit-down with the hiring manager. After all of which you are still highly likely to receive an automated rejection email, if you aren’t completely ghosted by the firm.
I ended up going back to work for a previous employer at a much lower rate of pay than the assholes I’d just fired paid but with people I like and doing things that aren’t constantly painful for more time of my life than necessary. (The evil company demanded you work over 40 hours a week.) I did get a slight increase in pay when renegotiating rejoining my previous firm.
I’m educated, have broad experience and am clearly self-motivated. But that wouldn’t have saved my family from the ravages of unemployment and poverty if I hadn’t landed a position soon.
It’s easy to tell people to just quit their jobs. It’s not so easy for those people to actually do that — and survive. Those same free-market enthusiasts (and quite a few of the technolibertarians you’ll find writing on Medium) who are so happy to put all the responsibility on employees — paying for the education employers demand, footing the bill for health insurance to keep ourselves healthy enough to work, working ourselves to the bone just to get by — are nowhere to be seen when those same people are starving in the streets because they’re unemployed, loaded with student debt and have a family to support.
But I guess that’s the employees’ faults.
You can “fire your boss,” but be aware of the possible costs you face in doing so.