Are you utterly sick and tired of your workplace? Shalaka Paradkar suggests seven surefire ways to help you make a not-so-graceful exit.
Getting fired can often be the best option when stuck in a loathsome job with an evil boss and schmucky colleagues. Resigning may be the right and moral thing to do, but let's stick to the real, and not the ideal, world.
Handing in your resignation can earn you brownie points for integrity as well as an employment ban for six months.
On the other hand, getting fired can make you richer, happier and better employed.
You would think that getting fired is quite easy – just cook the books, or hit on your prettier colleagues, or become the sort of manager who makes Gordon Gekko look like Mother Teresa.
Think again. Plenty of corporations actually reward this sort of behaviour. You may well find yourself in a corner office, propped up with a fat performance bonus and still hating your job.
Here are our seven sure-fire ways to lose that loathsome job, get a golden handshake, dodge the ban and change your life forever. Follow these habits and getting fired should be as easy as pie.
1. Over commit and under deliver... Constantly
To master this, you have to be an avid politician watcher. Learn all the nuances of hyperbole, exaggeration and selective amnesia. Learn to lose sight of the goal, as you merrily dither along, pulling the wool over everybody's eyes. To gain a reputation as a truly defective manager, it's important to be consistent in your failure. Make it a daily habit to draw up a list of things to do, and try to carry over as many of these to the next day.
Spend your time crafting an impressive array of excuses for all that could not be accomplished. Good reasons to cite are "severe operational challenges", "scope creep" and "limited resources". Surefire when: You exceed the budget, miss the deadline, alienate all team members and do nothing to improve the client's mood.
Backfires when: They cut you some slack because the project was truly complex and challenging. Be sure you learn to muff up the simple stuff as well.
2. Blamestorm rather than brainstorm
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, recommends you think win-win to be highly effective. Hence the converse holds true as well. To get yourself fired, be sure to go it alone all the way. Identify the team members to be blamed for every failure. Make the reasons as flaky as possible, so nobody is really in any doubt that it was actually you. Be defensive in the blamestorming meetings. Deflect all accusations with counter accusations that discredit and obfuscate the issues. In one of those oft-quoted surveys it was discovered that most people prefer working with those who are nice and incompetent, rather than those who are unpleasant but know their job. So if you are truly unpleasant, you have an excellent chance of getting fired.
Surefire when: You even annoy mild mannered Martha in admin, the lady whom everybody adores.
Backfires when: You report to someone like Donald Trump, who actually cherishes executives with reptilian traits.
3. Say no to non- conformity
Great organisations are built by people who have creative, original ideas. As a defective manager, make it your mission to crush creativity and nip non-conformism in the bud. This is even more effective when your actions belie your words. Throw around naff phrases as blue sky thinking and pushing the envelope, but create a work culture that would put a slave labour camp to shame. Your ideal should be Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Surefire when: You work in one of those new fangled organisations that values diversity and encourage people to work in their pajamas.
Backfires when: Your boss values obedience. (Usually these are the guys who throw around military jargon at meetings). He won't let you go now, as he sees you as a kindred spirit.
4. 'Mentor Ture' your subordinates
Organisations like to retain managers who guide, nurture and counsel their flock. To get fired, you need to be the one who terrorises, brutalises and otherwise tortures your subordinates (of course, within limits of what is legally permissible).
Get into the habit of setting impossible deadlines, berating people for missing said deadline and constantly changing your requirements. Forget the helping hand, and say hello to the cold shoulder. You can spend hours researching the ways of evil bosses on the Internet. Take your pick from the methods employed by sadists across the globe: you can throw phones at your assistant a la Naomi Campbell (works better if you aim it at a nearby wall to escape being sued for assault), or simply write deeply demoralising messages on their performance appraisals. Bully, confound and demotivate the underlings. When they start leaving in droves, the company will ensure you do too.
Surefire when: You have weak subordinates who will meekly succumb, and never think of fighting back.
Backfires when: You get one of those smart-as-a-whip subordinates, who has chewed many a sadistic boss for breakfast. You might be the one who ends up working for her.
5. Coginto ego some
All creative people must have a healthy ego and all defective managers invariably nurture a supersized one.
Make it a habit to tell your subordinates and peers that you usually know the most about any subject under discussion. It's important to constantly brag about past laurels and never discuss present performance. Everyone should mark you out as a pompous has-been. You know you have been successful when you enter a party and everybody gravitates to the opposite end of the room.
In all your interactions, find an opportune moment to slip in the fact that you graduated from the best Ivy League schools, drive the latest sportscar and were brought in with an obscenely huge package in order to turn the company around.
Surefire when: You're an overpaid defective manager who dresses well and drives a pair of snazzy wheels. If your own incompetence doesn't get you booted out, then the jealousy of your peers surely will do the job.
Backfires when: You are surrounded by a bunch of sycophants, who encourage you in your egoism. You might even get elevated to the status of a company elder: the guy whose achievements are not really clear, but who has been around forever and hence, must be tolerated.
6. Be emotional
Nothing is more puzzling, confusing or more amusing than the emotional manager. If you are a woman, they will put it down to hormones. An emotional male manager, however, is a species that most workplaces can't cope with.
To act this part effectively, you have to bring loads of empathy and understanding to the table. The men will be nonplussed. The women will love you, at least initially. But they will eventually become suspicious when you start crying every time they talk about pregnancy woes or last night's Oprah show. If you seem otherwise remotely normal, they will even start avoiding you rather than drawing you into the charmed circle of girl talk.
Surefire when: You work in a Neanderthal macho work environment, where the only show of emotion expected from male managers are grunts, snorts and whooping when a contract is bagged or the Sports Illustrated calendar arrives in the mail.
Backfires when: The company encourages managers to get in touch with their femininity, to improve their performance and productivity. You will be asked to lead training sessions on the display of emotions as an effective distressing tool for the modern manager.
7. Make the internet your ally
You could join the growing number of people – from former American Idol finalists to CNN producers – who got themselves fired on account of their blogging and Facebook profile.
There are many ways to do this: you could reveal sensitive information online, pose in silly pictures or rant about corporate ethics, hanging the company's dirty linen out to dry on the world wide web. However, many of these actions could get you sued.
If you work for one of those tyrannical corporations that ban social networking sites, then spend your time at work surfing job sites. Install every chat application known to man, and network. Send out emails with irresistible keywords such as "resume" and "job application". They attract Orwellian monitoring software like moths to a flame. Most companies would not like to admit their IT departments are authorised to snoop on internet usage by employees. (Trust us, they all do it.) You will be asked to leave, with vague talk at the exit interview of misuse of company resources.
Surefire when: You start a blog about your company, how badly it treats the planet and how terrible you feel about being an accomplice to this crime. Make it as detailed as possible without naming names. If there's one thing that Big Business fears more than the government, it's the eco-nazis. They will let you go, with a nice eco-friendly farewell gift too.
Backfires when: They feel sorry for you. Paunchy middle aged managers letting it all hang out on Facebook may inspire pity and whispers of a midlife crisis. You might continue to be employed on compassionate grounds.