Hey, boys and girls, it’s that time again, for another episode of Mama AnnMaria’s Guide on How not to Get Your Sorry Ass Fired.

Lately, I’ve run into a few people who think they are getting away with something because they are SO smart. (Hint: You’re not. I wrote about this months ago. You should have been paying attention.) Let’s call the three of them Bozo 1, Bozo 2 and Bozo 3 (not their real names). There will be a quiz at the end, so pay attention.

Bozo 1 started at as a good employee, so good, in fact, that she received perks like her own office and telecommuting three days a week. Since no one ever questioned the hours she put on her time card, she concluded that no one would know the difference whether she worked 40 hours a week or 38, which was probably true. Gradually, though, she dropped to 30 hours, then 25. She’s still charging for 40, of course. Bozo 1 thinks she’s getting away with it. In fact, her boss let her slide at first because she had been a good employee and the boss figured maybe B1 was just having some personal or health issues.  Fed up as the situation has deteriorated, her employer, is starting to put together documentation to fire Bozo 1.

Here is the CRAZY objection someone made the other day:

That’s not fair! The boss should give her some kind of warning that the company is on to her!

To which I could only reply:

Are you fucking kidding me? She is LYING to her employer, basically stealing money in that she is getting paid for work she did not do, and you think that the employer owes HER? Her boss doesn’t owe her squat. She is getting fired and she’s too arrogant to see it coming.

On to Bozo 2: He is very good at his job and made the company a pile of money. He also got the corner office, name your own hours, work from Bali if you want to. The problem is B2 became too impressed with his own success. When his staff told him that the new project was not bringing in as many sales with him in Bali, that he needed to get out there and talk to the customers, he told them to quit bothering him, he knew what he was doing, and go get him coffee because his great brain needs caffeine. One particular sales person insisted to him that the personal approach was NECESSARY, that sales were going DOWN.  B2 didn’t want to hear it and fired the sales guy saying, ‘I don’t need negativity in my life.’  Bozo 2 still has lots of money coming into the company as a result of work he did a year or two ago. As soon as that money dries up, he’s gone and no one will miss him because he’s been a pompous, inconsiderate jerk to everyone.

The same self-righteous young person objected to this, too.

He has made a LOT of money for the company.

This is true, and  they rewarded him for that money he made with a lot of money and nice benefits. Now he isn’t making money and he is treating everyone like they are dirt beneath his feet. He’s going to get his sorry ass fired.

Bozo 3 is EVERYWHERE, even on The Simpsons, which The Invisible Developer will be delighted to hear me paraphrase,

“You don’t go on strike if you hate your job. You just go in every day and do it half-ass. That’s the American Way.”

I’ve dealt with a lot of people lately who have that attitude. They believe they cannot get fired because their organization is too big to fail and they have seniority. You see this from employees in big banks to universities to government. If you have to wait in line for two hours, they lost your paperwork, they failed to comply with some government regulation, they shrug it off because their organization is untouchable – and so are they, by association.

One advantage of being old is that you get a long-term view. I’ve seen plenty of organizations that hadn’t had layoffs in their entire history close entire departments or plants or institute widespread layoffs. No one is untouchable. Eventually it catches up to you, and who do you think is going to speak up when your budget gets cut? Not John Q. Public you couldn’t be bothered to care about.

So, what did we learn today, children? No matter who you are, where you work or how good you think you are, do your job and don’t be a jerk, because no one gets away with it forever.

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CRAZY ! Our ecommerce site went out of business last night with zero days notice. So …

You can download our Mac and Windows games from Amazon here :

Fish lake woman———–

Or you can play Making Camp for free because it is still under development and we’re awesome like that.

buffalo in the snow

We should have our online store back online tomorrow.

 

It’s after midnight and officially the weekend so it’s time for the sixth installment of Mama AnnMaria’s Guide to Not Getting Your Sorry Ass Fired.

Click here for all of my advice on getting fired and quitting.

pyramid in jungle

Click here to buy the games I make on my day job.

As I was saying … there are many reasons you can get your sorry ass fired and many of these have nothing to do with your ability to perform competently at your job. I used to think the same as you, that if I was a good programmer/ cashier /secretary/ accountant / dental assistant / teacher or whatever, that my job should be safe. If I was a better than average whatever it was, they were lucky to have me.

No. Read my lips, or, in this case, type … no matter how great you are at your job, there is a point beyond which it is not worth the pain in the ass of putting up with you.

Let me give you a few examples in the “I can’t believe I have to explain this” category.

  1. The stuff at work is for you when you are at work. There are two parts to that sentence you should understand, “FOR YOU” and “WHEN YOU ARE AT WORK”. Maybe your job provides a nice office for you with a nice employee lounge. Your spouse/ mom/ roommate/ homeless guy you met on the street should not be in the employee lounge drinking the free coffee, watching the free cable and eating the free bagels. Now, I’m not saying if your roommate is in the neighborhood one day, he or she can’t relax and have a cup of coffee while waiting to go to lunch. What I am saying is that I shouldn’t see your boyfriend hanging out in the lounge more often than people who work here. There is NO circumstance under which I should find an adult who doesn’t work here sleeping on the couch, floor, across two chairs – either in your office or anywhere else in the workplace. If they are that sick, take them to the hospital. If they are that drunk, take them to rehab.
  2. Don’t take stuff home unless you need it for work, that includes filing cabinets, coffee pots, fax machines, boxes of – well, anything –  and that package of printer paper you took home to print out your roommate’s wedding invitations.
  3. Your work cell phone, iPad, computer and car is for you, for work. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen someone in trouble at work because their child or friend broke their employer’s equipment, had an accident in a company car. This is the face I make when I hear that.

what the hell?

Seriously, what the hell are you thinking? Why was your kid playing with your company phone that she could drop it in the toilet? Why did you let your friend drive a car that did not belong to you?

4. Your mom shouldn’t be coming to your work place on a regular basis. The only exception I can imagine is if you work in a coffee shop and she comes there for coffee every morning. Otherwise, see face above.

Basically, get this straight, your work place is not your home and your office is not your living room. Wear pants. Wear shoes. Brush your teeth and bathe before you get there and don’t invite in your friends and family or share the place and the stuff in it with them. Let me explain why, because sometimes when I say this to people they think I am being mean, and they try to tell me that they are the only one of their social circle to have a job, have access to these nice things and what is wrong with sharing the wealth.

I will tell you what is wrong – generally, your employer budgets enough money for space, supplies, equipment to meet the needs of the people employed. A few times a year, when I submit budget justifications for granting agencies or investors, I include our estimated costs. Those extra people you are bringing in with you, whether it is space or flash drives they are taking, were not in the budget and as a result, there is not comfortably enough for the people who work here. This in itself may not be enough to get your sorry ass fired, but if your behavior in the workplace is annoying enough, you will find yourself the first one up against the wall when the revolution comes.

Seven years ago, when I founded The Julia Group, I submitted a grant proposal to develop an online algebra course.

After 18 years of writing grant proposals for universities, tribal councils and other organizations, I wrote one just for me, for something that was near and dear to my heart.

I know that developing educational technology to reduce disparities in mathematics achievement doesn’t have the sexiest ring to it as a life goal.

Still, the fact is, whether you graduate from high school or not has a great impact on your probability of success in America, by just about any definition.

I believe math is important and performing poorly in math in middle school is where many people start to veer off the path to success, even more often for low-income and minority students.

I said that if it didn’t get funded, I would try again until I eventually got to do this project.

The agency hated my proposal. They gave it a really low score and it didn’t get funded. They said I didn’t have experience developing online courses, nor adequate partnerships with educational institutions.

I tried again with another agency, proposing to develop a bilingual game to teach mathematics to students with special needs, like learning disabilities. This agency hated my proposal, too. They said trying to teach mathematics and English and special education all at once was too much. They said a bunch of other discouraging words. It was not Home on the Range.

I talked to some people I knew at tribal colleges and on reservation school boards and they were convinced that it was important to intervene before algebra, starting with basic mathematics operations and particularly emphasizing fractions.

About the time I found out my proposal wasn’t funded, I took a job at a university where The Perfect Jennifer decided to get a masters and a teaching credential. Since they offered free tuition, I was there for about two years.

I worked on some other proposals to develop online courses for professional development. These did get funded.

If you looked at me in 2011 or s0, you might say I’d given up on the idea, that I’d quit.

Splash Screen

In 2012, I submitted a grant to make educational games to teach math. It was funded and we developed the prototype for Spirit Lake: The Game.

In 2013, I submitted two more proposals. One was funded and we built out Spirit Lake to a commercial version, created Fish Lake and, along with help from a Kickstarter campaign, finished the beta version for Forgotten Trail.

In 2014, I submitted another proposal, for a bilingual game. This was funded and the prototype of Aztech Games will be done in about a month.

Someone said to me today that game design is “not about budgets and deadlines”. In a way, it is, though. You need money to pay people to do sound, art, coding, marketing. You can’t do it all yourself, and yes, you can do a kind of cool game with ASCII art, but not that many people are going to be playing it in 2015.

In 2008, when I took that job at the university, you might have thought,

“Oh, she quit. She gave up on her dream.”

Nope. I was always working on it, sometimes in the background, building up skills, experience and partnerships. Sometimes, working on proposals that didn’t seem to go anywhere.

The educational games we do now are a shift from an online high school algebra course, but they are addressing the same needs in a somewhat similar way. Reducing disparities in mathematics achievement is still near and dear to my heart.

Here is a really funny thing – even when I was working full-time doing something else for years, I never got discouraged. I figured I would just keep working and eventually get to where I wanted to be one way or the other.

So, there you have it, Mama AnnMaria’s advice for the night: Quitting doesn’t have to be final.

— Support our company, buy 7 Generation Games for Christmas –

If you buy a game this month, we’ll throw in the beta of Forgotten Trail for free.

Boy walking in rain

You can also donate to a classroom. Give your mom a sponsored school for Christmas. She really doesn’t want another fruit basket. Honest.

I’m really busy here in Brazil. Honest. You think I am sitting here like this:

Rio

But really, it’s like this:


Writing flow chart while drinking coffee

Still, I have taken time away to explain to you how not to get your sorry ass fired, so listen up niños . I had the benefit of starting writing software at a large organization, General Dynamics. Having the experience from the beginning being part of a time prepared me in a way I seldom see from people who have been working solo their whole careers.

It’s easy to be the smartest person in the room if you’re the ONLY person in the room.  If you’re used to being THE computer whiz and suddenly find yourself part of a development team, let me give you a few pieces of advice:

1. If it’s not yours, don’t touch it! Your mama should have taught you this. An example i saw recently was an ‘expert’ in css who removed a bunch of classes because it was clear these were not used for presentation. They weren’t referred to in any linked style sheet, in-line style or in the page head. The classes were used in JavaScript to control certain behaviors. Deleting the classes may have made the code look better to Dr. CSS but it made the application quit working.

2. Don’t assume everyone is stupider than you. The CSS expert removed those classes because clearly everyone else had been too stupid to do it. When you come into a new organization, make the reasonable assumption that other people have jobs there because they are not incompetent morons. (This is not always the case, but I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.) ASK! The people who treat you like you are stupid because you don’t know the answer to a question are insufferable pompous asses and you don’t care about their opinions. Normal people realize that you are new and you don’t know everything. They are happy to help as long as you don’t overdo it. Even on those rare occasions that I have gotten a question from a new person that made me say to myself, “Are you fucking kidding me?” I tried to give the benefit of the doubt that maybe the person was confused or having a bad day. After all, I’ve made stupid mistakes a time or two myself, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a moron.

3. Document! I admit to being a hypocrite because as soon as I have finished something I’m SO tempted to go on to the next analysis/ part of the game, etc. As our wonderful 7 Generation Games CMO Maria says, documentation is one of those things no one ever wants to do but everyone wishes was done. Maybe you know exactly what you were thinking when you wrote that code, but I am pretty certain that your colleagues were not hired for their mind-reading skills.

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If you’re reading this, you’ve probably mastered multiplication, division and fractions, but you may be fond of a small human who has not. Check out 7 Generation Games. Play adventure games in a virtual world and learn stuff.

Games that make you smarter ! Buy them for your children, sponsor a school or play yourself (we won’t judge!)

The heroine in Labyrinth (fun movie, by the way) complains ,

“That’s not fair!”

and the Goblin King responds,

“You say that so often. I wonder what your standard of comparison is.”

Sunday evening and I’m taking a break from working on our latest game to offer another installment in Mama AnnMaria’s Guide on Not Getting Your Sorry Ass Fired. I was talking to my son-in-law, Mr. Perfect Jennifer, and he commented that many in his field – graphic art and animation – set their rates at what the client can be convinced to pay. If a client is somewhat naive about the going rate, they will charge two or three times as much – the sky’s the limit! What is wrong with that?  Well, for one thing, if you are vastly over-charging your clients, at some point they will find out that other people are not paying $775 per hour for a statistical consultant and they will fire your sorry ass and hire someone more reasonable.

People starting out as freelancers or consultants are often unclear as what is a “fair rate of pay”.

Let me recommend this:

1.  NEVER base your fees on what you “need to maintain a certain lifestyle”. Unbelievably, I have seen many people starting out set their fees exactly like this. They will tell me how expensive it is to live in San Francisco or New York City, as if that matters. Let me give you this example to show how stupid this is. You hire someone to clean your office every night. We’re not talking Trump tower here, but just your standard executive office – desk, a couple of chairs, table. Dave’s Cleaning tells you that the cost will be $3,000 a month. When you ask how he can possibly justify $$700 to clean one room, Dave explains that you are his only client. He lives in a studio apartment that costs $1,100 a month, he has to eat, doesn’t he?

desk

2. Find statistics on rates for your field. For example, the American Statistical Association published this article in 2011 on rates for statistical consulting. You could look up your field on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site , although since that is for full-time employees, who receive benefits, you should estimate cost to the employer as 20-30% more than whatever the median salary is. What, you mean to tell me that you have no idea what the average market rate is for your services? How the hell did you come up with a rate then?

3. Figure out where you fall in the range. Do NOT, NOT, NOT look at the top of the range and say, “I could charge that much.”
The inter-quartile range for statistical consultants in 2011 was $89 to $189. That means that 75% of the consultants charged more than $89 and 25% charged $189 or more. The median was $130 an hour. Do you find yourself saying,

“Hey, I’m in at least the top 25% for sure, I could charge $189 an hour.”

What is your standard of comparison? According to the ASA, consultants who have a Ph.D. charge an average of $44 an hour more. Do you have a Ph.D.?  What justifies your claim to be in the top 25% ? How many years of experience do you have? How many years does the average person in your field have?  What metrics do you have that justify your claim? How much have you brought in sales, grant money, subscriptions, enrollment? Is that as much as the average person? If not, how do you justify that $130 an hour?

4. Account for your “non-monetary costs”. I have a Ph.D., 30 years of experience, have brought in tens of millions of dollars in grant funds for clients, published articles in academic journals, given hundreds of conference presentations. Would it surprise you to know that I do NOT charge in the top 25% ? There are many non-monetary factors in my consulting work, that do not apply to other consultants who charge more. I don’t come into the office before 10 a.m.  I wear a suit about 10 times a year. I only take projects that interest me, working with people I like and respect. With rare exceptions (I’m looking at YOU Belcourt, ND in January) , I don’t travel to places unless I really want to go there. On the other hand, when my children were all living at home and I really needed the money, I traveled more, got up earlier, wore more suits, worked with more jackasses and charged more money. Back then, I agreed to respond to client calls or emails within an hour. Now, it is within 24 hours. I also charge less now so I can choose the clients I want to work with. (BTW, we are not taking new clients at this time.)

So, that’s it, decide a fair rate based on what the market is paying, where, based on objective criteria, your skills and experience fall compared to the general population of whatever-you-do and figure in what non-monetary requirements you or the employer have.

Charge a fair price, based on the market and your documented accomplishments , not on what you need or what you think you’re worth and you’re less likely to get your sorry ass fired.

–*—–*—–*—–

Feel smarter after reading this blog? Want to be even smarter? Buy our games, Fish Lake and Spirit Lake. Learn math, social studies and explore our virtual worlds.

7 Generation Games. Games that make you smarter.

7 Generation Games Logo

As you have no doubt brilliantly deduced from the title, this is installment number four in Mama AnnMaria’s Guide on How Not to Get Your Sorry Ass Fired.

dead guy

Dead guy

Do the work you are assigned to do.

This may seem like anyone with a brain functioning above zombie  level could figure this out. However, I have seen many people who do not appear to be zombies who can’t quite master this concept.

Variation 1: Doing work other than what you are assigned because you are more confident doing something else.

If you are supposed to be writing a new database program but instead you update the wiki because you don’t consider yourself an expert on SQL and PHP then you are on the road to getting your sorry ass fired. Unless you lied on your resume (in which case you deserve to be fired), I’m willing to bet that your boss knows you are not an expert and either:

  • Assigned you something that requires below expert level of expertise, or
  • Believes you can learn enough to accomplish the task.

In either case, do the work you are assigned to do.

Variation 2: Doing work you were assigned to do later instead of the work you were assigned to do now.

Again, this is often because you feel more confidence in your ability to plan the office Christmas party than updating the operating system. However, it is July and your company is still using Windows XP.

Get on it.

Variation 3: Finding an excuse why you cannot do the work.

This is the quickest path for getting your sorry ass fired. Let me explain how it looks to me:

I have given you work to do because I don’t have enough time to do it all myself. Instead of doing the work, you come back to me with more work, making it my problem instead of your problem. Do you really think I hired you because I was thinking to myself,

“Gee, I don’t have enough work to do. What I really need here is someone who will bring me more work.”

Some people might ask,

“But don’t you want me to tell you if there is a problem?”

Let me explain this to you in short words.

I want you to do the work I assigned you to do. That is why I assigned it to you instead of doing it myself.

This doesn’t mean that, for example, if you don’t know the password to log in to the server you shouldn’t ask someone. It does mean that most of the time, you should solve the problem yourself if possible.

The worst example of this I ever met was a woman who never could do any work because there was always some obstacle in her way. The final straw came the day she told her boss that she had not created and printed the company newsletter because they were out of paper.

Guess whose job it was to order the paper? When he pointed this out to her, she argued that her job description said to order office supplies but no one had specifically told her that the office was out of paper.

She got her sorry ass fired.

——-

8 fish in a stackWant to be smarter? Of course you do.

You still have a few hours left to back us on Kickstarter

 

If you totally missed out on the Kickstarter, don’t despair, you can buy Spirit Lake or Fish Lake here

 

It has been a while since I wrote on this topic, which, as I explained initially, was going to be a blog category called “Mama AnnMaria’s Advice on Not Getting Your Ass Fired” but it turned out out that doesn’t fit in the sidebar.

It was suggested to me this week by a couple of my less technical readers,

“You should write more posts that I actually know what you are talking about, like that 55 things you learned in 55 years.”

So, just for you, here is

How Not to Get Your Ass Fired: Part 3 – Realize you are NOT smarter than everybody

  1. Padding your hours isn’t fooling anyone. You might think you’re getting away with something but if your boss and co-workers aren’t particularly dumb, they know about how long it takes to create an SQL database, enter data or write a report. I don’t care if you say you were posting about your job during those 10 hours you were on Facebook. You’re not fooling anybody.
  2. Padding  your expense account doesn’t prove you’re smart, it proves you’re clueless. Just like with hours, everyone else in your organization isn’t stupid. They know what it costs to fly from LA to Denver, what you pay for a meal in Fargo, on the average. Do you really think they don’t have any idea that $3,000 is unreasonable for a week in Omaha?
  3. Don’t try to milk your employer. This is completely different from asking for what you need to get the job done. I need a cinema display monitor because I have very poor eyesight and need large fonts to read. I spend the majority of my time on my computer. I travel many, many weeks out of the year, so I need a good laptop. I don’t need three laptops, two of which I give to my children to do their schoolwork. Again, because I travel a great deal, I do need a phone, but I don’t need every new iPhone and iPad that comes out.

Here is a really important key fact – you may think you are getting away with any of these stupid habits, but you’re not. Yes, maybe you turned in that expense account and the business office paid it. Maybe they did pay you for those 47 hours of overtime you said you worked. Maybe they bought you the new iPhone even though they bought you another one last year.

Why do they do that? 

Let me give you three possibilities.

1. It may be that they don’t think you are worth bothering about. Yes, I know this hurts your little ego, but it’s a possibility. The business manager, in her head, makes a little black checkmark against you, thinking , “What an asshole”, but she has more important things to do than worry about some peon that overcharged the company by $700.

2. They are building a case. Did you ever hear the saying, “Don’t make a federal case out of it?” If you THINK you are getting away with embezzling money from the federal government, it may be that they are just collecting evidence. This may go with the first possibility, in that they are either in their heads or formally adding up the money you are costing them.

3. They know exactly what you are doing but they have decided that you are worth the pain in the ass of putting up with you – for now. Maybe you are a great software developer, attorney or accountant.  It isn’t that your organization doesn’t know that you are screwing them over, but rather that they have decided to overlook it – for now.

So hey, you’re getting away with it, what’s wrong with that?

Listen carefully,

“No matter how great you are at your job, there comes a point beyond which it is not worth the pain in the ass of putting up with you.”

When your organization no longer needs you that badly, if your work starts to decline, or if you get a little more greedy, you, my friend are going to get your sorry ass fired.

They may keep you around but they sure as hell are not going to trust you. If you wonder why you aren’t getting raises, aren’t getting promoted, maybe it’s because you aren’t quite as smart as you think, or the other people around you aren’t quite as dumb. You might want to give some serious consideration to turning it around before you get your sorry ass fired.

===================

8 fish in a stack

Want to be even smarter? Check out 7 Generation Games.

It’s like push-ups for your brain.

As you have no doubt cleverly deduced from the title, this is the second installment in my series, “Mama AnnMaria’s Advice on How Not to Get Your Ass Fired.”

In Part 1, I explained why employees who (in their view) never make mistakes end up getting their asses fired.

Today’s lesson is:

Understand that your boss doesn’t have to explain everything to you.

Let’s say that you believe that you are doing stellar work. Let’s further assume that the work you are doing is both something objectively difficult –  3-D modeling, software development, teaching probability theory – and that you believe to be important.

You are doing a great job and are highly skilled but they are not paying you the salary you believe you deserve

As I see it, there are four possibilities.

  1. The organization cannot afford to pay you more than you are getting.
  2. Your boss is a moron.
  3. They are hoping you will quit.
  4. The work you are doing is not of the quality or importance that you believe it is.

Let’s consider possibility number one. If that is the case and everything you assume about your performance is true, then the organization should be trying to make it up to you in other ways. I once worked for a non-profit where my boss couldn’t offer me a raise but cut my hours 25% and gave me the same pay. They might give you flexible hours, a nice office, a travel budget, an impressive-sounding title. None of those things are the same as cash but they at least show the organization is making an effort.

Let’s assume that they do none of that and you are treated like a peon. They even make you wear that Hotdog on a Stick uniform even though you don’t work at Hotdog on a Stick. There remain the last three possibilities.

Why would your boss want you to quit? In my experience, the two most common reasons are:

  • You are a pain in the ass
  • The work you are doing is not of the quality or importance that you believe it is.

There are things your boss may not tell you for very good reasons, say,  non-disclosure agreements.

It is possible that your work is not really all that important.

Yes, you have done a fabulous job creating the company website. However, the company is in merger negotiations after which the website will be taken down and all of the products listed under Acme Giant Corporation, Inc. You may be fabulous at teaching probability theory but the university is discontinuing its Statistics major due to lack of students enrolling in Northern Alaska On a Mountaintop University.

They also may not be telling you that they are hoping you will quit to avoid the unpleasantness of having to fire you.

Why on earth would anyone ever want to fire you, other than that your work isn’t as important as you think?

 

Another possibility, as much as this may cause you pain, is that your work isn’t as good as you think it is

fish

Perhaps you suffer from the Big Fish in a Small Pond Syndrome. Maybe you know more about Windows 8 than any of your friends. Let us at least entertain the notion that you may have particularly stupid friends. Yes, you were the IT expert at your old job but there were only six people in that company and they were in the janitorial business. Now you work IT at Microsoft and they are not impressed that you know what a printer driver is.

You should be aware of the Performance: Pain in the Ass Theorem

To whit, there is no performance so great that it cannot be exceeded by the pain in the ass of putting up with you. (Note that even Steve Jobs got fired from Apple).

Since it is past 2 am in North Dakota, from which I returned at midnight on Friday, and I have not one, but two meetings in the morning, further explanation of this highly important theorem in the field of Not-Getting-Your-Ass-Fired will have to wait until another post.

 

I was going to call this new category for my blog

“Mama AnnMaria’s advice on not getting your ass fired”  but it turned out to be too long to fit in the box.

It may surprise young people in the work place to find out that people who admit to having screwed up are often valued more as employees than those who are blameless.

Who cares whose fault it is?

One of the things that drives me crazy is when the first thing (and sometimes the second and third thing) an employee does in response to a problem is to find proof that it was not his or her fault. There are a whole lot of reasons why this is stupid, bad and will eventually get your ass fired.

Are you exclaiming.

What? Why would you fire the one person who never makes a mistake?

Well, for starters, you are clearly delusional. Everybody makes mistakes so if you are convinced you NEVER make mistakes, it is never your fault, then you have a tenuous grasp on reality that you may suddenly lose one day and begin mowing down your co-workers with an Uzi, convinced that they are evil demon zombies out to eat your non-mistake-making perfect brain. As a responsible employer, I cannot take that chance.

Next is the fact that you are wasting time and energy. You could have found the missing data and gotten it to Dr. Cflange. Instead, you put your effort into finding that email from seven months ago where Bob said we didn’t need to worry about sending the data to Dr. Cflange to prove that it wasn’t your fault that the data was not sent to our collaborator, after all, Bob told you not to bother. So, here we are, three hours later and Dr. C still hasn’t gotten the data. Besides, the fact that Bob told you that seven months ago when Dr. Cflange was in Uzbekistan does not absolve you of responsibility of sending out that data any time until the end of the world. Plus, Bob hates you now.

Which brings me to my next point – if you are always claiming you are blameless, then by implication, you are blaming someone else. Your boss is not stupid.

broken window

It’s like that time when my mom came home and the front window was broken. She asked what happened and we all swore up and down that we had nothing to do with it. She asked,

“So, you were all just standing around and the glass just fell out of the window?”

We all swore that yes, it had happened exactly like that.

(Mom, if you are reading this, it wasn’t me that pushed one of the Slattery boys into the window. Just so you know.)

Unlike me, who did not throw said sibling under the bus, if you are pointing at Bob and saying,

“It was him, it’s his fault, not me!”

Then, guess how likely Bob is to be inclined to help you out in the future. So … people who are always blaming everyone around them are not going to have as good teamwork with their co-workers.

Listen carefully here, because this next part is really important. Let’s assume the people you work with are not idiots, that there is a reason you are working for them instead of them working for you. Let’s call that reason -“experience”. Not being idiots, your bosses realize that everyone makes mistakes.

Employers are not looking for people who never make mistakes. Those people don’t exist. They are looking for people who can fix problems.

Final two reasons never taking responsibility for any mistake is going to eventually get your ass fired –

If every time an issue comes up it’s like an argument before the Supreme Court to get you to address it because you are so involved in gathering your evidence why it was not your fault, eventually people will quit pointing out problems to you because it’s just not worth the hassle.

If you never believe that any problem is your fault, then you will never get any better at preventing them, because none of the problems that occur have anything to do with you.

The most impressive interactions I have with employees often begin like this:

“That was my mistake that X happened. I would like to take the responsibility of fixing it by doing Y.”

Those people are probably never going to get their asses fired.

Now you know. Act accordingly.