Employers (aka evil corporations) catch a lot of flack for how they treat their employees. And much of that flack is well-deserved. However, there’s another side to the equation: employees aren’t always angels, either. I’m not talking about the big stuff like theft, embezzlement, fraud, violence, temper tantrums, etc. I’m talking about the little things, things that are much more common and much more detrimental than they might appear on the surface. These phenomena are quite common – most of us have done one of these things or another, and they can jeopardize one’s job surprisingly easily. The phenomena that I’m thinking of all boil down to one common theme: inadvertently demonstrating to your boss that they don’t really need you.
Two pop into my mind immediately; others may follow later, and I’ll add them as I think of them.
Phenomenon #1 – Not Being There
This one is obvious, but it bears mentioning, because to miss work is pretty common. There are legit reasons that can’t be helped (such as illness, death in the family, doctor’s appointments, etc) and not-so-legit reasons (hung over, didn’t “feel like” coming in, etc).
Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same: the employer must figure out how to get along without the employee. “The Show Must Go On” and all that. They still have a business to run, and they must do so with or without the employee. Every time an employee must miss work, the business has to figure out a “Plan B”. Eventually, they may realize that “Plan B” isn’t so bad, and they may wonder why they’re bothering to keep that employee on the payroll. They may reach the conclusion that they don’t need said employee, and Poof! The employee is now expendable.
Phenomenon #2 – Being Sloppy, or Screwing Up At Work
In this case, the employee showed up for work that day. However, if they cannot focus (call it hung over, stressed out, a case of adult ADHD, “brain fog”, being distracted, or sometimes just plain lazy, or whatever–there are multiple reasons for this and again, some are legit and unavoidable, while others aren’t) but here again, the outcome is the same: the boss must double-check everything the employee does.
At that point, just like in the above scenario, the employer begins to wonder, “why keep this person if we’re going to have to review everything s/he does to make sure it’s been done right?” This scenario is almost worse – the employer is having to pay out a salary to someone who is bringing them no benefit. It won’t be long before that employer decides to replace that person, or perhaps go without that position.
Excuses Only Carry You So Far…
My father used to say (and still says), “excuses are for losers”. I don’t completely agree with that statement. You can’t control the bumper-to-bumper traffic and insane delays that result from a massive car accident a mile up the freeway. Or maybe your cat or dog got deathly sick that morning and must be rushed to the vet. Or you woke up with a drainy throat that signals the impending doom of the wintertime cold/flu bug that’s been going around. Or maybe you lost power at some point during the night and your alarm clock never went off, so you overslept.
But my father did have a point, one in which I do agree with. There’s a fine line between the occasional catastrophe or the unavoidable “Life Happens” and the nearly-daily always-apologetic voice mail from the front desk staff that says they lost track of time…again. Or that they had to get their car heater fixed when they could’ve waited a few more hours until we were closed for the day to do so (and no, it wasn’t bone-chilling cold, and it had been chilly for a week, and this person has a relative who is a mechanic and could’ve looked at the vehicle at any time). At some point, the endless excuses–legitimate or not–begin to wear thin. When an employer finds themselves asking, “what is it this time?”, there’s a (serious) problem.
So…my PSA for the day is: Show up for work, keep your mind on what you’re doing, double-check your work, and develop patterns of trustworthiness so that when Life Does Happen and you do have an emergency, your boss isn’t rolling their eyes and delegating your tasks to the other people in your office so that they can consider letting you go.