Important Lessons from Being Fired

IStock/Credit:danielschweinert

Have you ever been fired from a job? I have and remember it vividly from more than 3 decades ago. I was working retail.  Thank goodness it didn’t end well because I really didn’t have much to offer the retail business. But, I learned a great deal from that experience and offer the take-aways from both an employee and employer perspective. I hope they’re helpful.

I was hired for the Christmas season by a store in Oklahoma that sold backpacks, mountain climbing gear, canoes, and camping equipment. And, for those of you who know me –this company was a total mismatch from the get go.

Sales were lagging overall and I recall the owner of the store walking in as I was working the floor that day. He came in observing how employees were engaging with customers.  After about 20 minutes the owner told the store manager, “The short guy must go.” Well, that short guy was me.

Several aspects of my firing were my fault without a doubt:

  • First: I was just working for a check. I had no interest in this type of business establishment. There were plenty of jobs for college kids during the Christmas season. Why did I take that one? It just wasn’t very smart on my part.
  • Secondly, I didn’t ask any questions about the expectations. My expectations were people would come in and I would ring them up on the cash register – and, that was it. Obviously, the owner wanted more from me; and, frankly should have gotten it. But, I didn’t ask and didn’t know what the expectations were because I wasn’t proactive enough about it.
  • And finally, my critical mistake – I knew nothing about the business. I didn’t know anything about outdoor equipment or about the owner – apparently, he was a well-known explorer. At that point, I had three strikes against me and I was shown the door.

Now, as for the small business owner – here are the mistakes the company made:

  • First: The company hired someone who was a total mismatch. There were no questions about my interests, what made me enthusiastic about the job, or why I wanted to be part of that organization. The fact of the matter was, I didn’t want any part of that. All I wanted was a check. But, these questions weren’t asked in the first place. They’re fault.
  • Secondly, there was no training whatsoever. My only skill was running the register. There was no training on the products or services. No wonder I wasn’t any good at it. But that was their fault. As a new employee, you are owed the opportunity to be trained on the program you for which you are responsible.
  • And, the third mistake? The company hired me out of a sense of crisis. They didn’t have enough people and they needed a warm body. Have you ever heard that in your company? “Hey, let’s just a get a warm body in here for a while until we can hire someone more qualified.” That is just totally wrong and it ruins the employee experience and the company in the process. That’s strike 1, strike 2, and strike 3 for the employer as well.

So, the #1 take away for the employee? Go find something you are interested in. Don’t just work for the check. I know it’s tough when you are trying to sustain your livelihood and your professional career, but don’t take gig, which 6 months down the road provides little inspiration.

And, the top take-away for the employer? Look for the people who are passionate about your space. It’s interesting because I’m doing some hiring right now. The candidate hired will be the person who knows something about our business and our mission. It means he or she has done their research and are energetic about being a member of The Moery Company team.