‘Short-timer’s’ Guide to Getting Fired (Dead employee walking edition)

You know what happens when someone is on the path to being fired?  They start doing all kinds of strange things.  They’re actually fairly easy to spot, and if you follow these rules and guidelines you will be able to pick them out or know if it’s you that is about to be terminated.

In the HR game, we call these people about to be fired or leave our organization, ‘Short-timers’ (they’ve only got a short time left!).  I also like to refer to them as ‘dead employee walking’, because so many hiring managers will know for months they want to terminate an employee, but they don’t.

Instead, they begin to treat them like they’re dead.  They ignore them, stop giving them work, ‘forget’ to invite them to meetings, etc.  Almost like they’re dead.

Regardless of what you want to call them, I think we owe it to give them some rules about what to do and not to do when they hit a period of their soon-to-be-over employment.

Short-timer’s Guide to Getting Fired:

  1. Don’t start working harder. You’ve already been shot, you just don’t know it yet.  You working harder to try and save yourself just looks sad and pathetic. You had a chance to save your job, now is not the time.
  1. Don’t start talking about how you’ve been wronged. You actually might be wronged, but no one wants to hear it, and me talking to you puts me in your camp, and I don’t want to be in dead employee walking camp.
  1. Do start lining up references from those who still like you. You’re going to need references from your last employer. Do that now. It’s hard to say no to your face. It’s easy to ignore your email and phone calls after you’ve left.
  1. Do start slowly take personal effects home, little by little, so not to be noticed. This way when the big announce happens you aren’t asking people to help you carry stuff out to our car.
  1. Do start looking for a job. It’s one million times easier (that’s an exact figure from my research) to find a job when you have a job than when you don’t have a job.
  1. Don’t profess your love to a co-worker on your way out. It’s really not a great romantic time to do something like this. “Hey, Tina! I’m out of here! But I’ve always wanted to hook up, call me!” Yeah, just what Tina needs, an out of work slacker to add into her life.
  1. Do clean out your computer files and delete all search histories. You know what we do when you leave? We look at your search history on your computer and laugh. Laugh loudly and often. We don’t know exactly why you were searching for an all-black toilet seat, but it’s funny not to know!
  1. Don’t start trying to take other people down with you. Here’s the deal; you’re about to get fired. You are trying to bring others down with you won’t work because you have no credibility.  In fact, it will probably just quicken your exit.
  1. Don’t burn bridges. It’s a small world when it comes to professions and employment. That boss you tell off today might be the same executive that stops you from being hired someplace else down the road.
  1. Do burn all of your corporate logo wear. Yeah, like you’re really going to wear your old companies gear when you got fired! No, you’re not.  Burn it.  Have a party and dance around the flames.  It’s cathartic, in a way, to rid yourself of these signs and symbols of a part of your life that is now over.
  2. Take a bunch of office supplies home. You know what you need in a job search, office supplies! Plus, now that you’re on the unemployment, you don’t really have extra money to spend on office supplies, so start hoarding while you can!

One thought on “‘Short-timer’s’ Guide to Getting Fired (Dead employee walking edition)

  1. Ha! It’s really sad how true this is. There are too many employees who treat adversity as a stumbling block instead of a stepping stone. The evolution from disengagement to short-timer’s syndrome is hard to watch.
    Luckily, there are ways to overcome this. Once an employee begins to be disengaged it is time to diagnose the problem.
    Are they feeling untrusted?
    Are they feeling unseen?
    Are they feeling disconnected from the people around them?
    Is there negativity around them?
    If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you have found the source of the problem. If you answered yes to any of these questions then you can apply medication before they catch short-timer’s syndrome.
    Short-timer’s syndrome is just a symptom of the true sickness. Workplace disconnection.

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