The Silicon Valley Voice

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Fired Up

For some people, it’s difficult to get hired. For you, it’s difficult to get fired.

Considering that the steady decline in your productivity and the sudden spike in your snarky attitude did not result in the firing you so richly deserve, it’s clear that if you want a position where you don’t have to work at all, you will need to work a lot harder.

That’s where management consultant, Steve Tobak, can help. In a recently posted a jeremiad on the “Last Word” blog he writes for, Tobak reveals the “7 Employees You Should Fire Now”.


For some people, this will be a warning shot over their corporate bows, but for you, it could be a roadmap for achieving your goal of being successfully unemployed. Yes, Tobak has identified workplace attributes so repellant that even a dim bulb like your boss will realize it’s time to call it quits.

Consultant Tobak’s No. 1 candidate for instant unemployment is the “Troublemaker.” These doomed dudes “create more problems than they’re worth” and “when the damage they do to the organization weighs more heavily than their achievements, then it’s time to cut them loose.”

You can see your problem, I’m certain. You have become so expert at balancing the work you do with the trouble you cause, the scales do not tip in favor of pink slipping you right out the door. So you have a choice! Either reduce the work you do, which won’t be easy, or step up the trouble you cause. Personally, I vote for stepping up the trouble. It’s not only easier, but it’s a lot more fun.

Tobak also wants management to sharpen the ax on the necks of those employees who “overpromise and underdeliver.” Describing this kind of employee, he writes, “when their egos constantly write checks their capabilities can’t cash, that’s a real problem that’s not likely to be resolvable without a good shrink.”

Be careful here. You certainly don’t want to halt your race to the unemployment office for the 12 or 15 years it’s going to take for a good shrink to fix you. The best idea is to stop promising and stop delivering, too. This will work, I promise.

Also headed for the hatchet are employees who “act out with customers.” Alas, considering the success you’ve had developing innovative ways to frustrate and eliminate customers, you probably don’t have many left to act out with.

Employees who “can’t or won’t do the job” also need firing, Tobak believes, especially if management has given them “one chance too many.” Count up the chances you’ve been given — it’s OK to use a super computer — and try to figure out how many more chances you’ll need to reach one too many. Then, get to work. Chances are you’re closer to your last chance than you think.

Tobak writes, “life is too short” to have employees who “flake.” He is not referring to your dandruff, but to people who “you can’t count on to get the job done or even to show up on a regular basis.” Better work on this one. Showing up twice a month to pick up your paycheck is obviously giving your employer the wrong impression. Switch to direct deposit, and your flake power will shine through.

“Half their mind is on the job and the other half is just waiting for someone to slip up so they can whine and complain and maybe threaten litigation,” writes Tobak in describing the must-be-fired category he calls the “Entitled.” Since devoting 50 percent of your mind to your job is about 49 percent more than you currently devote, and since no one could whine or complain more than you, you’re simply going to have to start threatening some juicy lawsuits. Any ambulance chaser worth their pinstripes should be able to win a fat settlement based on the mental anguish your employer is causing you by refusing to fire you.

The seventh category of employees to be cut loose are people who ignore the “rules of conduct.” This is good news. All you have to do is admit that you lied on your resume. You didn’t climb Everest or win the Nobel Prize for Physics or play lead guitar for Iron Maiden or teach Warren Buffet The Dougie.

These confessions will, no doubt, come as a terrible shock to your managers and co-workers, but it must be done. After all, nobody ever said that getting fired was easy.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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