The capstone of a campaign of workplace abuse and bullying is often termination from the job.
And that reality – or even the fear of being fired - can be a devastating blow to a worker who has endured months of abuse that has stripped away his or her sense of mental and physical well-being.
But today what does it really mean to be fired?
I know business leaders who were fired and recovered to achieve impressive new success.
Sallie Krawcheck, past president of Merrill Lynch, US Trust, Smith Barney, the largest wealth management business in the world, suggests that if you don’t get fired at least once, maybe you’re not trying hard enough?
She says that as the pace of change in business increases, the chances of having a placid career are receding. And if in this period of rapid change, you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.
Being fired is not always a reflection of performance.
Research shows that some targets of workplace bullying are dismissed because they are creative, hard-working and well-liked employees who are seen as a threat by a supervisor or co-worker. They may be among the best in their workplace and that is why they are targeted.
I also know bureaucrats (and I use that term in the worst sense of the word) who should be fired but probably never will be, despite their obvious incompetence. They have managed to insinuate themselves into secure positions, by surrounding themselves with synchophants and/or by avoiding any personal responsibility for anything, except to claim success for others’ work.
Many employees are fired because a new supervisor wants to put in his or her own team in place or the worker’s values or vision don’t comport with that of the supervisor.
Many workers are fired for illegal reasons - they are victim of discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, etc. Some are fired because they asked for a legal right – such as the right to be paid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
So if you were fired in the past year or expect to be in the year ahead, try to keep it in perspective. Any employee who was fired can likely think of some things that they could have done better. Hindsight is 50-50. Nobody’s perfect. Etc. Hopefully, your new and hard-earned knowledge will help you succeed the next time?
Ms. Krawcheck also advises:
I had a friend tell me shortly after I left “When something like this happens, you think you’re thinking straight, but you’re not. You won’t think straight for at least three months.” If you have the luxury of avoiding any major career decisions that long, the perspective you gain after decompressing can be valuable.