What Gets People Fired: 6 Common Reasons Why People Lose Jobs

Red fired in a stamp design
Image: kchungtw / iStock / Getty Images Plus

As someone who plays a big role in getting a ton of people fired, I know a thing or two about why people lose jobs. Granted, there are unavoidable scenarios, like economic slowdown and increases in operating costs that force a business to trim staff.

But the truth is, most people lose their jobs because they make dumb mistakes and do nothing to improve. When these mistakes are made repeatedly by the same people, owners start thinking about firing them.

Here are 6 of the stupid things people do that get them fired.

1. Dishonesty

This is pretty self-explanatory. People who steal, lie and no-show for scheduled meetings get shown the door very fast. I have a personal aversion to lying, low-life scum who steal for a living and try to lie their way through life.

While some in modern media may give a pass to theft by telling ultra-socialist stories like Robin Hood robbing the rich and giving to the poor, in the real world these people are criminals and should be thrown in prison.

Read this: You’re Fired! 3 Secrets for Firing Non-Compliant Employees Like a Pro

People who steal may get away with it for a short time if they work for an operator with low self-esteem and low operating standards. But when an operator comes on board who wants to run a successful business, dishonest people get shown the door.

2. Laziness

Owners often complain to me about the lack of work ethic their staff members have, and how impossible it is to launch new initiatives because someone is negative and lacks energy. Who knows why these people have no energy or no work ethic—they’re only in place because an owner has bought into the lie that they can’t find anyone else to replace them.

This erroneous belief is what I believe keeps scores of lazy people employed. If it were up to me, I would toss all these bums to the street. Owners who have their act together understand that finding employees is also a marketing function and keep a constant stream of potential hires going through interviews. It’s an instant deterrent for anyone on your team who is lazy.

3. Tardiness

Punctuality is a sign of respect. Those who lack punctuality show no respect for others who show up on time. When people show me no respect, I show them the door. For example, if a new employee is late for their first shift, they’ve basically fired themselves for me.

Of course, there are the understandable situations in life that just force people to not show up when they say they are going to arrive. For example, if someone is physically mangled in a car crash, I can understand that. But that’s about it.

Read this: Termination Techniques: How to Approach Firing Someone

For every other situation, it’s expected that delays are communicated as early as possible, not 5 minutes before the scheduled meeting. There are some employees who text me two minutes before a scheduled start and are stuck in traffic on the other side of town. They tell me they’re “a bit behind,” but what they mean to say was that they slept through their alarm clock, literally just got out of bed, and are just starting their journey to work. People who do this should be tarred and feathered.

4. Lack of Common Sense

People who can’t solve problems effectively lose jobs quickly. This is partly due to the general lack of problem-solving skills the population has at large, but it’s also a training issue from the top down.

Oftentimes, owners get upset at managers when they solve problems in a way that’s differently than expected. When this occurs, people are accused of lacking “common sense.” Successful companies develop protocols for all sorts of scenarios, so that what is done in certain situations matches expectations.

Once those protocols are in place, owners then train and re-train their people on the procedures so problems get solved the same way. By taking these steps, there is more clarity between owners and staff, and less scenarios which result in people relying on their “common sense” to solve problems.

However, there are people who simply can’t follow instructions—no matter how clear—and consistently make poor choices. I once had an employee who got trapped behind doors constantly. I swear, if there was a door in front of him, even if he had the keys or it was unlocked, he would find a way to get trapped behind it. He was a nice guy, and I gave him every chance to try and correct the mistake, but for some reason he just couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t long before I turfed him. Who the hell gets trapped behind an unlocked door?

5. Forgetfulness

Forgetful people lose jobs. And nothing pisses off a busy manager more than having subordinates who don’t do exactly what was discussed at meetings. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to never agree to anything before placing it on your calendar or writing it down to keep somewhere it will be seen. Doing so will ensure every promise you make will be fulfilled, and nothing you agree to will be forgotten.

When an inexperienced manager shows up at a meeting without a notepad, I already know nothing is going to get done. Winners show up with a pen and notepad, take notes rigorously during meetings, and immediately schedule the tasks that need to be taken on a day-to-day basis on their calendars.

Read this: Update Your Employee Handbook Today

The people who don’t take these steps end up “forgetting” to do what they agreed to do, and when it’s time to make changes to the team…these people are usually the first to go.

6. Complacency

Entitlement is a plague on our modern-day society. Not much is worse than the sense of entitlement a comfortable long-term employee has. Comfort can breed complacency all too quickly.

I tell everyone who works for me that no one is invincible, not even me. If you act like you’re above the work that’s assigned to you, it’s not going to be long before your replacement comes in the door. Being too comfortable is a big reason a lot of people get fired.

About the Author

Kevin is an operations consultant with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum: from family owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale. Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenge each kind of company faces.

He is the author of a book entitled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also a regular writer for Nightclub & Bar, providing information high-level operators seek to get the extra edge in their marketing, sales and operations.

He continues to write today, providing specialized information directly to nightclub, bar and restaurant owners from his workshops, newsletters and magazine articles. He is also active in the field, operating an inventory auditing practice with Sculpture Hospitality.

Kevin Tam is a long-time contributor to Nightclub & Bar and the reviews reflected in this article are his own.