For those not familiar with the term "tongue-in-cheek" it means trying to be funny.

Published December 1, 2009


Musings Index

30 Ways to Avoid being Fired

Last month we provided advice on how to "recession-proof" your self in our Musing So You've Been Fired! This month we are providing some further tips to help. These have been around for a while[1] and (in case anyone is not clear) are written with tongue-in-cheek. Yet, for some people, in some circumstances, and at some time, there may just be a grain of truth in some of these suggestions.

Here they are to lighten a stressful situation.

  1. Get elected to your company's trade association. It is unlikely you'll be fired - at least in your first term.
  2. Suggest a cost-cutting redundancy plan - one that you must take charge of yourself.
  3. Start a serious affair with the boss's daughter (or son) - but make sure you know which.
  4. Find out where the boss takes the family on holiday and "accidentally" bump into them so the children can all play together in an "out of office" experience that will summon pleasant thoughts of you when he surveys the room.
  5. Befriend the consultants brought in to handle downsizing.
  6. Make friends with your local politician. No boss wants to risk a falling out there.
  7. Find out where the boss's spouse or partner works out, or plays tennis or golf, and send your partner round to make friends.
  8. Buy the house next door to the boss. The guilt of sacking you, then having to see you every day would be too much. Or, at least get your children into the same school as the boss's for the same reason.
  9. Shoot for the top of the main labor union. The fear of a strike over a sacking will deter even the most hard-nosed.
  10. Run a charity event, with lots of media coverage, ideally for the boss's favorite cause. No company wants to fire the one seen on TV handing over a check to, say, children in need.
  11. Secretly examine the chief's private life, and casually hint at indiscretions.
  12. Cover your desk and office wall with family pictures. Children's photos should only show them as little, adorable and dependent upon your salary.
  13. Mention at any opportunity the burden of your mortgage and school fees.
  14. Express worry about your wife or children needing "tests" for some unspecified illness.
  15. Be the first one into the office and the last one to leave.
  16. Offer to play host to the company golf day, or similar event, at your club.
  17. Come down with a case of repetitive stress injury.
  18. Offer to head the organization's task force on the latest popular movement - like greening the office activities.
  19. Always look busy. Carry papers when you walk in the office, even when heading for the washroom - and walk with determination. (This, by the way is one of the greatest tips for people in the armed forces.)
  20. Constantly suggest new products, even if they haven't a prayer. The boss will worry that one day you might just dream up the next big thing - for someone else.
  21. Offer to write the organization's official history. This way you will meet the senior people, including former ones who may still have some influence.
  22. Blow the whistle on malpractices. Firing whistle-blowers is a public relations nightmare.
  23. Offer to manage the company web site. Most managers are technologically challenged in this area and you will earn immediate respect.
  24. Suggest you become the person customers telephone or Email with complaints. It would be hard for the company to tell complainants later that the one who was handling their complaints has since been fired.
  25. Stay sober, even (and especially) when your boss is intoxicated. And then offer to drive the boss home - you might learn something really useful.
  26. Speak at a party political conference. No one wants to be suspected of firing someone over politics.
  27. Make friends with an aggressive employment law firm and get the company to use their services. The bosses will be glad of their advice - but always with the unspoken notion that if anything happened to you ...
  28. Leave sealed envelopes on your desk marked "Project X or Y". Never explain them and always lock them away at night. Your boss will not be sure which department you are currently working for and will not wish to upset anyone by putting your name forward for the chop.
  29. Don't be way from the office for any length of time. When hit lists are drawn up, it is much easier to list names of those absent from the office.
  30. The final and best way to avoid being fired is to become the boss yourself.

For managers, a case study in down-sizing

The Human Resources Department (HRD) of company XYZ proposed a plan to offer early retirement to older employees in the organization. The draft was titled Retire All Personnel Early (Rape). Following approval by the Board of Directors, including a company reorganization, HRD issued the following notice:

The company wishes to notify all employees that the RAPE program will begin immediately. Employees who wish to appeal the impact of RAPE will be given the opportunity to seek other employment and will be able to request a review of their service records before discharge. This part of the program procedure will be held under the title Survey of Capabilities of Retired Early Workers (SCREW). Employees disputing the impact of RAPE or SCREW may request an ultimate Study by Higher Authority Following Termination (SHAFT).

Now is the time to review your skills and polish up your résumé.

1. Abstracted and updated from Management Today, UK, April 1999, p70
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