Over the holiday break, I came to the conclusion that more employees should be fired from their teams or their jobs all together. I even concluded that it would be good for me to get fired at some point in my career. Not quite the Happy New Year, new beginnings, resolution stuff you were looking for? You’re an FOT reader – you should know better! I’ve come around to the point of view that getting fired can be one of the best things that can happen for you as an employee and for the next company that you join – if handled appropriately. Don’t believe me? Here’s a (surprise, surprise) sports analogy for you from Major League Baseball:
Since 1994, of 16 world championships, 13 have been won by managers who were fired at least once before. The past five managers to win a World Series all failed elsewhere first.
In my own hometown (Boston), the head coaches of the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox were all fired at one point in their careers before winning championships here in Boston.
Hmm, looks like getting fired isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world afterall. So, what’s the lesson here?
As the fired employee —
Of course, in the short-term, getting fired sucks. Your ego takes a hit, not to mention your finances. But, if you’re able to actually take a step back and honestly assess what went wrong or more specifically what you did wrong, you’re doing yourself a huge service. If you can take that assessment and actually change your behavior, I think you’ve made yourself even more valuable to your next company (more on that in a minute). Here’s the catch though – how you handle the inevitable interview question on why you left your last job will go a long way towards your future success. Here’s a real-life example of how two candidates I interviewed, who were fired from their previous roles, handled the question:
Candidate 1: Well, I had been at company x for a while and accomplished all that I could in my role and I decided to leave the organization.
Candidate 2: I was fired from my last position. And you know what? I looked back over my time at company x and there were a lot of things that I could have done better and I’m committed to applying these learnings in my next role.
When I checked references on Candidate 1, her last boss told me in no uncertain terms that the candidate was fired. Now, in and of itself, not a big deal, but the candidate didn’t come clean which led me to believe she hadn’t reflected at all on the experience, and we didn’t hire her. We did hire Candidate 2 and he turned out to be one of our top performers and was very successful.
As the hiring company —
As HR Pros, we need to be thinking creatively about talent all the time. This is one of those things which done correctly can be a real competitive advantage for your company. Think about it: you’re getting an employee who’s motivated to be successful, has shown the capacity to learn from their mistakes and is going to be better at incorporating performance related feedback. And let’s be honest – you may even be able to hire this person for less than market. Of course, none of this is possible without a thorough interview and reference process where you really learn about the potential hire.
So, Happy New Year – and I hope you get fired!
Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.