If you’ve been fired from your job, it’s because you yourself have quit – from the job and from giving your best – in the first place. The boss just made it official.
A couple of months back, a few of my colleagues headed out to get some lunch. They went to this fast food joint in a nearby shopping complex and one of my colleagues was quite pissed off when she returned.
Colleague: I can’t believe that he [fast food employee] just stood there and did nothing.
Me: Oh wow! You mean even when there were customers waiting?
Colleague: YES!!! Even when we were there waiting to be served. He just stood there – arms folded and looking around.
Me: Damn. He deserves to be fired. He doesn’t deserve that $20+/hour job. In fact, other (international) workers out there who are grossly underpaid can do his job at least 5 times better. Or they should just replace him with a robot. Because at least robots don’t bring a shitty attitude to work.
You might think that I’m being ballsy when making that statement. Well, you’re right.
But you know what’s even ballsier? Him [that employee] thinking that someone else will cover for him while he chills out in his corner. Him thinking that slacking off here and there is alright and he won’t get caught. Him thinking that he’ll just hang around and it will be knock off time and the weekends soon. Him thinking that it’s okay to cut corners here and there since it’s only a part-time job.
Well, if he can’t get his shit together, be squared away and give his 150% in the work that he does in a part-time job, boy is he going to get his ass whipped when he enters the real world and embarks on his career journey.
I was fired from my first job out of university.
On the surface, I was struggling and under-performing, since I was fresh out of university and had sales / business development targets to meet. I was new in my career and didn’t have much of a confidence to walk up to businesses to pitch our products, handle objections, negotiate agreements and close the deals.
But below the surface, I wasn’t pulling my weight. I dragged my feet to work. I longed for the lunch break where I could get “out of work” and I longed for the weekends. Nothing excites me more than the clock hitting 5pm.
3 months into the job, I got fired. My team leader called me and told me that I need not go into the office and my position was dissolved.
The truth is, my team leader didn’t fire me. I fired myself first because I was the one who have quit in that job a long time ago. I brought a quitter’s mindset and attitude to work everyday.
I truly deserved to be fired. And this is a lesson which I never forgot and which has served me well to this very day.
So what should that fast-food employee do instead? Or what should you do if you’re in his shoes?
1. Be proactive and get busy.
If you have nothing to do, or think you don’t have anything to do, find something to do!
There are surfaces to be wiped, sauce bottles to be refilled, stock to be replenished, customers to be served, guests to be welcomed, tables to be cleared, rubbish to be disposed off, dishes to be cleaned, cleaned dishes to be dried, cleaned and dried dishes to be stacked and readied for service, etc. If you have to take a break, at least do it away from the customers.
And keep checking with your colleagues and supervisor to see what else needs doing. On top of this, go above and beyond. Ask customers for feedback, take note of trends in customer traffic, menu/flavour preferences, feedback/complaints, and then suggest or propose creative and innovative strategies to make things even better.
Don’t just use your hands; use your brains too.
2. Treat your job like a million dollars.
This is similar to the first point.
A complex, high-level, managerial job is a test of your skills and abilities. But a menial job is a test of your character.
If you want to be entrusted and given greater things, you need to be faithful/helpful/useful/resourceful in the smaller things.
If you need to clear the garbage, be the best garbage-person in the world.
If you need to mop the floor, mop the damn floor with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
If you need to flip burger patties and cook fries, do them and dance along as well.
Don’t just see this as a boring, mindless, crappy, do-this-just-to-pay-rent kind of job. See this as an opportunity to build up your character and to hone useful transferable skills (problem solving, customer service, working in a team, working under pressure, communication), which future employers value.
3. Treat others like a million dollars.
People say that customer service is one of the toughest jobs in the world because you meet all kinds of people – angry ones, demanding ones, unreasonable ones, scum-of-the-earth-eligible ones, I-want-speak-to-your-manager ones, etc.
And I know that you have your own struggles and baggage even as you head to work – we all do.
But I want to challenge and encourage you to always bring your best attitude and give your 150% in all you do, especially on days when you don’t feel like it.
Even when you feel like punching that customer in the face, smile and do your utmost to meet his needs.
Even when you feel like stabbing your unreasonable boss in the back, suck it up and do your job so damn well that no one can fault you for anything. Be so good that your performance speaks for itself.
Even when your colleagues are dreading the work, you go in and encourage them. Help them out and work together to find solutions.
The reason why I seem harsh in this article is because I’ve played and used the mediocrity card before and it doesn’t work.
History doesn’t remember the person who cut corners, made excuses or gave up.
It’s a tough world of work out there, not counting the effects of outsourcing, automation, robotics, technological disruption, etc. But you can be tougher, and you need to. Because success is your duty and service to the world and to the people around you.
You can either be fired or fired up. Which one are you gonna choose?