Mistakes On The Job

Question:

Can you be fired for mistakes you don’t know you are making? When would they need to have told you? Should I leave work because I am unsure of how to avoid being seen as lacking unconfidence or should I ask about what I am unsure of and of what is expected? Could you explain?

Signed,

Unsure


Answer:

DearĀ Unsure:

As you can see, I have rewritten you question. I hope it now says what you have meant it to say. Yes, you can be fired for mistakes you don’t know you are making. An employee is expected to have reasonably sound judgment, and therefore one who does stupid things and/or harms his company can be fired. The fact is that employers can fire for a good reason or no reason unless they are constrained by a union contract that specifies procedures that must be followed prior to firing or unless they are breaking federal discrimination law. In your case, you appear to be worried about not knowing what is expected. This is because you have been found to make mistakes or are working scared you might make some. In short, you are unsure of yourself and your superiors. So what might you do to overcome your anxiety. Ask! Ask your boss what is expected. Ask your coworkers. There should be no shame in asking. You say you don’t want to be seen as unconfident. If a task is complex, get step-by-step instructions in writing. None of us want to appear less than competent and some of us fear we will be seen as stupid if we ask. Get over that. You will never learn what is expected unless you ask and also watch what others are doing. Learn what skills and procedures are expected. Realize that even when you follow instructions to the best of your ability, you are likely to make mistakes. Most of us don’t learn to dance without making mistakes, and we must practice, practice, practice to dance well.

My best to you. Work on your communication skills. Strive to say what you want to say in a few words. Avoid gossip and complaining about being afraid you will make mistakes. Remember to smile and not take yourself overly seriously. Laugh once in awhile. When you can, make your coworkers jobs easier. Worry less. Praise yourself to yourself for doing well when you succeed with a job. Think of ways to make your workplace a friendly cooperative place. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden