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Dear Wendy

Personality Work

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  • #894216 Reply
    avatarKristen
    Guest

    I have been straight up fired from 6 jobs (all women bosses) with a few other jobs being close calls, but I quit before they could fire me. I often get canned because I am not able to talk the talk with coworkers / bosses at work. I always work hard and unless I am paired with a very outgoing coworker tend to become very independent. Unless there is a very friendly coworker at the job (these jobs have worked out but have ended for other reasons such as they were only temporary) many times people don’t want to work with me. I am very knowledgeable but am unable to tell jokes or the kind of stories to draw people in. I want a leadership position, but I’m never considered for leadership positions. I will need to start a new job soon. How can I joke and develop a personality that others want to be around?

    #894362 Reply
    avatarHelen
    Guest

    I don’t think you’ve been fired 6+ times because you suck at office banter. Its time for some unflinching self reflection. Have coworkers or managers brought up anything repeatedly? Even if you disagree, is there something that keeps coming up at work? You say you’re “knowledgeable” are you coming across as a know-it-all? Or refusing to do things their way, preferring your own way? Do you correct coworkers or managers when you think they’re wrong? I have no idea why you’re not getting along in your work environment, but changing personalities isn’t likely to help. Getting your job done, following direction, accepting responsibility, knowing when to apologize, and not engaging in gossip are the basic things you can do to keep your head down at work. Basically try to fly under the radar. Don’t call attention yourself. Get the job done & get out.

    You could try asking a friend or former coworker if they have any insight for you. But you’d have to really listen and not dismiss what they say even if its uncomfortable or doesn’t line up with your beliefs. Ive never had problems with a coworker because they “didn’t talk the talk” I’ve worked with lots of quiet people and never had a problem with them. You’ve probably been told what your problem is when you were fired or during a performance review, you’ve just dismissed it. That’s why I think it would be helpful to reflect on anything you’ve been told multiple times at work

    #894363 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    What Helen said. This is a problem with *you,* and it’s not just about not having a jokey personality. You’re either being a huge pill, or you’re not showing up consistently and doing your job well, but no one gets fired for not being funny. And not 6 times.

    Your job is to show up and make your boss look good and not cause drama. Somewhere you’re falling down on at least one of those.

    What is the actual feedback you’ve gotten?

    #894364 Reply
    avatarktfran
    Participant

    I’m really curious why you want to manage people. You don’t seem to like people?

    Helen and Kate covered everything else really well.

    #894365 Reply
    avatarEssie
    Participant

    I’m not buying it, either. In all the places I’ve worked, across a couple of careers, no one would have cared if you never spoke a word as long as you did the job well. I worked for an IT company and we had a wide range of personalities, including some who were painfully shy and never, ever engaged in the usual banter. Wasn’t a problem, ever.

    Re-read your performance reviews. The answer you’re looking for is there.

    #894366 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    People DO get let go for having a bad attitude, being difficult, but from what I’ve seen, those people tend to get included in a lay-off. It’s a big effort for a manager to fire someone for their attitude, because they have to go through HR, give feedback, monitor performance, etc. They’d rather just quietly lay them off. For you to get straight up fired multiple times, you’re doing something egregious and you’re not learning your lesson.

    #894367 Reply
    avatarktfran
    Participant

    To get fired, as opposed to laid off, at my company, you’d have to be on a Performance Improvement Plan and given multiple chances.

    And Layoffs, at least in my field at my company, Kate is exactly right. It’s not a first in, first out thing. It’s difficult people. Or under performers, but not a good enough reason to fire. Like, they do alright, but not great.

    And that’s not even true for all difficult people! Years ago, we were going through a pretty large round of layoffs. There was one woman who is difficult. They kept her over someone who was probably a better worker because HR thought she’d sue. She now reports to me. I’ve been able to handle her and she’s gotten better, although could still improve. I occasionally think about that though. She kept her job because HR thought she’d sue. That’s it.

    EDT: I think a lot of companies have a 90 day you can fire without cause stipulation in contracts. So I guess a trial period. Eons ago I worked for one woman who was let go before her 90 days.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by avatarktfran.
    #894395 Reply
    avatarLisforLeslie
    Guest

    If you’ve gotten fired 6 times then you’re doing something to get you fired. That could be not showing up on time, being argumentative and unhelpful, not listening to direction, not taking feedback and incorporating it, and since you’ve mentioned that six women bosses have fired you – maybe you’re just being creepy or inappropriate.

    #894410 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    What has the feedback been when you’ve gotten fired? Any problems leading up to that?

    Honestly, you come across as an unreliable narrator because people don’t get fired for not being able to tell a joke. There’s more going on here. My advice would be to ask for honest feedback. And write it down and absorb it. Ruminate on it. Accept it as the truth. And work on those issues. I doubt it is the job, it sounds like a YOU problem. I would love an update with more details.

    #894661 Reply
    avatarron
    Guest

    I’ve never seen anyone be fired for not telling jokes or for being on the quiet side. I have seen people fired for telling objectionable jokes and for chatting so much that it hindered the job performance of themselves and others.

    What exactly do you mean by ‘not talk the talk’. That typically does not mean not telling jokes or not bantering with co-workers. It means being actively unsupported of company goals, philosophy, way of doing business, presenting a positive face to customers. What do you mean by this. If your are the consistently negative employee, that can certainly get you fired, as can ignoring dress code, schedule for arrival and departure, following procedures.

    It sounds like you are working for employers who are too small and ad hoc to have performance improvement plans or perhaps even formal written reviews or exit interviews where you are told exactly what is wrong. But, every boss will tell you what you need to do better and too many mistakes, especially repeats of the same mistakes can lead to dismissal.

    You seem to be so deliberately secretive, that I suspect you know you have been doing something quite bad. And why the deal with all your managers who fired you being women?

    #899620 Reply
    avatargolfer.gal
    Guest

    I’m wondering if “unable to talk the talk” and “work very independently” mean you are difficult to work with, don’t take direction, aren’t accepting and incorporating performance feedback, aren’t a team player, or other similar issues. As a manager I’ve fired numerous people over the years, for a variety of reasons, but I’ve always been really clear with employees both verbally and in writing about what needed to change. You say you quit a few jobs before you got fired, so at least some managers have been clear enough about what’s wrong that you were aware. I agree with the others, you need to start with that feedback even if you don’t agree.

    You say you want to be in a leadership position. If you’ve been fired from 6 positions and forced out of several more I’d advise you to take that off the table. It’s great if that’s a long term goal, but you need to start with finding success as an individual contributor. The fact that you don’t seem to want to acknowledge or admit the problems that have gotten you here tell me that you aren’t anywhere close to ready to lead and manage other people. Start reading the Ask A Manager blog, it’s a great resource. You may want to consider finding a career coach who can dig into your past firings and guide you on how to improve. I’d also consider meeting with your regular doctor and possibly a therapist – it’s possible there are underlying conditions (depression, ADD, OCD, etc.) that are affecting your performance and could be treated. Pick up some books on succeeding at work. Mainly you need to be open to change and working on yourself or this will keep happening.

    #899887 Reply
    avatarHazel
    Participant

    It’s hard to advise without knowing your field of expertise, but if you don’t get on well with people, you are probably not going to find leadership is great for you- it’s just going to involve more working with people which is not your strength. Is there anything you’d like to do which would enable you to be more of a lone operator? Would you consider changing your job to enable you to do that? I’m not sure what’s available to you but there must be a direction you could take where your ability to do the task in hand and focus on your job with maybe only reporting results back once a week or so. I know people who inspect bridges who have that sort of life, as I did myself checking crop quotas were being adhered to, and if you do well working alone, you could be invaluable to the right firm. Though if you’d like to continue to work in people-centric environments, you probably do need to find a career coach or someone to help you pin-point your problems face to face.

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