… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

You know why


I just finished reading a fiction book the other night where the main character gets fired the same day as her husband tells her he wants a divorce. I know, right? Talk about drama. It ended up being a sweet little story about a woman pulling her life back together but the thing that stuck with me the most about the story was how she was fired. In the book, her boss basically just decides to fire her for, and I quote, “Not living up to her potential” and it of course came as a complete surprise to the main character. Huh. Right. Isn’t it cute how HR and employee relations are portrayed in fiction? They think this is how the game is played.

Let’s be real here for a minute. It is only in rare occasions where you have a boss who is a complete jerk and maverick that just makes big employment decisions like a termination on a whim and without input from either HR or their own boss. Most companies have way too many levels of approvals and disciplinary steps before anyone gets fired. It’s all part of our risk adverse and litigious culture. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but not as often as a lot of people seem to think it does.

The vast majority of the time, if an employee has reached the point of being fired, they know why. Seriously, they do. Whether they admit it to themselves, much less others, they know. If you have reached the point of being fired you have either done something you shouldn’t have done, didn’t do something you should have done, or behaved in a manner that was against company policy and completely inappropriate. That’s it.

Whether the employee received “enough” opportunities to correct their behavior or not, well, that really depends on how long they have been with the company, how good the manager is, how severe the problem is, and how dysfunctional the company is overall.

For example:
– You can be a brand new employee who insults a customer and are fired on the first offense.
– You can have been with a company for 4 years, had a bad attitude from the start, and you frequently ignore update requests from your boss. After multiple repeat warnings you are let go.
– You can have been with the company for a year but your boss is a jerk and that causes you to under perform while you are at work. One day though your boss calls you into his office, shows you productivity reports for the past 2 months that show you were under performing, and fires you then and there.

Each scenario is different and admittedly some are more fair than others, but in the end, the employee in question knows what they did. They may rail against the company and their boss while being entirely justified about being upset, but really, they know why they were fired.

Each of us is responsible for how we behave at work. Regardless of how bad a situation we find ourselves in or how much we think our boss has it out for us as Laurie Ruettimann talked about so well, ultimately the only person we can control is ourselves. The best and only thing you can do in a tough situation is to be honest with yourself on your own failings, pick yourself back up, and move on.

Image from Distracted by Star Wars

2 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 Another Evil HR Director :

    Well said! It is incredibly difficult to get people to understand that terminations are rarely “for no reason” and are rarely truly a surprise – or shouldn’t be. However, I often find myself having to explain just this to a recently terminated employee, or explain to someone who might be terminated why it may happen and how to avoid that.

  • 2 Shauna :

    No termination should ever be a surprise, thanks for the comment Another Evil HR Director!