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Your Office Coach

Trouble holding a job? Here’s what to do

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Question: “I have been fired from almost every job I have ever had. My friend says I’m just unlucky, because I seem to wind up in impossible situations that I can’t escape. I know that difficult people are everywhere, but I guess I haven’t learned how to properly navigate around the worst ones. I’ve tried the fight-back approach and the just-deal-with-it approach, but neither seems to work. Last time, I made a pre-emptive strike by complaining to human resources, but I still wound up on the losing end of the stick. I have been fired from five jobs in seven years. What would you recommend for someone like me?” — Nathan

Marie’s Answer: Getting fired five times in seven years is not bad luck. It’s a self-destructive pattern.  Consider these suggestions:

•    Whenever you experience the same problem repeatedly, it’s quite likely that you are the cause. Instead of continuing to blame “difficult” co-workers, you should take a long, hard look in the mirror. 

•    Apparently, you allow yourself to get emotionally "hooked" by certain types of people. When conflict results, management begins to view you as a liability. The solution lies in learning to control your reactions.

•    To identify your problem behaviors, review the events that preceded each termination. How did your actions make the situation worse? How could you have responded differently? 

•    If answering these questions is difficult, ask for feedback from managers, co-workers, friends or relatives. Listen to their comments without arguing. 

To salvage your career, you must become a stable, cooperative, undemanding employee. If you can’t make this change single-handedly, then you should seek professional counseling. 

For some clues about what really bothers bosses, see "Six Signs that You May Be "Hard to Manage".

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mohan M Prasad September 23, 2009 at 4:03 am

Nathan, it’s important for you to examine the reasons why it’s happening to you time and again.

There seems to be a pattern.

You are the common denominator in all the organizations and hence there is a need to introspect and search for the symptoms and thereon treats the disease. Do not get me wrong.

There is no better substitute for “feedback seeking” in case you need to move forward not committing the same error.

It will not be a bad idea to identify at least 10 – 15 people with whom you have worked in the current and earlier organizations and earnestly seeking their feedback on your behavior in the organization setting . You will be shocked that people have so much of inputs to share and that’s some treasure you should start hunting for immediately to make amends.

Suggestion: do not counter what they say, do not sit on value judgment over what they say. Just accept it , say ‘thank you’ and process it objectively.

You will get both positive and negative traits.

Now, make a list of things that you have done that made you “tick” and those that gave you the “kick” and work out your action plan.

It’s worth going back to some of these people with whom you share some relationship/rapport and check if your action plan is ok. Again you will be in for surprise. These well wishers will add value to your plan.

Set a 100 day target and start examining each day how you fared on the agenda.

The transformation that you will see will pleasantly shock you.

I am confident that this way, you should be able to shape up well rather than being shipped out every now and then.

When we take personal onus the bonus is just round the corner.

Rest be assured.

All the best


Mohan M Prasad September 23, 2009 at 2:25 am

Let me state it upfront.

You have unwittingly lead yourself into a situation and mental makeup which is not going to be of any help for future.

You need to examine at a deeper level and search for an answer to;

Is my happiness going to be governed by how relatively I am positioned/placed – my team members and peer levels??

Do not get into the rat race. Do not be like the mice rather become wise.

Besides please remember Salary is the factor of market and the price mechanism; while value is the net worth that you bring to the table.

Once we start equating value with price, we have already the troublesome child “dissonance “.

There are means of finding out what’s your market for the job you do and in case you feel that you are underpaid, take it up with your manager and HR for redress.

And finally is it not unethical for one to talk about the other member’s salary? Many organization disqualify the grievance just on this ground that you are quoting confidential information and this can also have a rub on your trustworthiness in the system

Think it over. I know it can be hurting.


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