It's not often that I venture into the self-help space with this blog but I was intrigued by an article I read recently on The Wall Street Journal's online site titled "Ten things that can get you fired."
Much of what they suggested was spot-on but there were a few points on which I disagreed or felt even more strongly about than the WSJ writer.
Here is the list and my accompanying comments:
1. Get conveniently sick. This may seem like a no-brainer but it's always amazing how many workers take a sick day, when they're not really sick, then do it again, and again...and again. If the sick days happen to occur consistently on a Monday, then you're really exposed. The right approach? Only take a sick day when you're really sick.
2. Lie on your job application. One may think that companies don't really check out job applications and resume information, but they do. Don't lie.
3. Be disgusting. The WSJ writer suggested that improper hygiene could put one in harm's way, i.e., the "firing" line. While I agree that disgusting body odor and personal care habits are, well, disgusting, it's hard to suggest that they are grounds for firing. The key point here is to never underestimate the impact of how you look, how you groom, and how you dress. As the saying goes, better to over-do in those departments than to cut corners.
4. Stay anonymous. I once had a colleague who suggested "blend in--be nice." While the latter is important, the "blend in" part makes you no different than all the others who are trying to fly under the radar.
5. Never compromise. Standing up for what you believe is one thing. Knowing the importance of picking your battles is another. Be careful about never compromising.
6. Be ungrateful. The impact of saying "thank you" and showing gratitude for a promotion, that special assignment, or recognition from your boss is very, very important.
7. Don't respect the chain of command. Reporting structures aren't put into place to be bureaucratic--they are there to increase efficiency. Sure, layered organizations can become unwieldy and slow but always respect that you should first go to your direct-line supervisor with any issue--not a level or two above that manager.
8. Spend time with the complainers, non-performers and gossips. This is a trap easy to fall into so, take the advice you would give your children--don't hang with the wrong crowd. These folks may be nice people but they are easily labeled for what they are and who needs guilt by association?
9. Never take responsibility when things go wrong. You are more apt to be rewarded by saying "I screwed up" versus doing everything possible to shirk responsibility for the mistake. Most managers want any errors to be errors of commission, thus acknowledging that mistakes do happen.
10. Take credit for other peoples' work. No one likes the co-worker who consistently takes credit for something they didn't do, or were involved with peripherally. Don't be that guy--your manager will soon figure it out.