Mistakes help us grow as individuals and make us better people, or so we're told. At work that's definitely true. Call the CEO by the wrong name once and you'll never do it again. For this reason, level-headed bosses aren't looking to fire anyone for the occasional gaffe. Still, even the nicest of bosses will reach a limit. Oversleeping one morning probably won't get you fired; doing it three times a week probably will. In the spirit of keeping you in your supervisor's good graces (and employed), here are nine moves that will get you fired.
1. Being sorta punctual
Each company has its own culture, which might mean stumbling into work 10 minutes late is no biggie to the boss. When it comes to deadlines, however, punctuality is nonnegotiable. When other people -- and consequently their reputations -- depend on you to complete work in a timely manner, excuses don't work. Arriving late to a meeting or not at all is a high-profile way to show you don't respect other people's time, too.
2. Hang on, I'll tell you after I update my Facebook profile
Jobs that rely on the Internet provide ample distractions for employees who would rather play online Texas Hold 'Em than work. Many employers allow workers to spend some time checking personal e-mail accounts and catching up on celebrity gossip. A reasonable amount of time. When your duties take a backseat to updating your Facebook status, the boss won't have a problem giving you a pink slip for neglecting your duties.
3. Not knowing what your job is
When bosses hire people, they want them to fulfill their job duties so that the team can run smoothly. You're allowed a few growing pains when you're new, but if six months (or years) into the job, you're still asking people what you should be doing or how to perform an elemental task essential to your job, something isn't right. One of the quickest ways to lose your job is to be deemed unreliable.
4. Needing the spotlight
Children have the honor roll to recognize their outstanding work; adults have paychecks. The employee who demands praise for every bright idea or successful quarter he has will gain a reputation for being needy and distracting. Of course we all like to have a pat on the back now and then, but making sure every person in the meeting knows the boss just pitched your idea shows that you're more concerned with yourself than with the team.
5. Being too honest
Your parents and teachers probably taught you that the truth is always better than lying, and they were right. Nevertheless, remember to keep some thoughts to yourself, especially when those thoughts are that the boss has no clue what she's doing or that you could do her job better with your eyes closed. Having an honest exchange of ideas with a boss is one thing; insulting him or her, albeit with good intentions, is another.
6. Going on vacation when you're needed most
Although you have every right to use your vacation days, a quick way to damage your reputation is to be in the Bahamas during crunch time. If you have to take some personal days at your department's busiest time, plan ahead so you don't inconvenience your team. If you're gone every time a major deadline approaches, however, your reputation will suffer.
7. Proving you can't be trusted
When a co-worker or boss shares private information with you, the quickest way to risk your job is to tell everybody what you know. Not only do you betray that person's trust, but you also make that person look foolish for having confided in you in the first place. Employers have no trouble cutting ties with someone who blabs secrets.
8. Not respecting the boss in front of his or her boss
Remember: Your supervisor has to answer to someone, too. Although you should be respectful every day of the week, make sure to be on your best behavior when your boss's boss is around. If you're undermining authority or even just not doing your job well, your boss looks incompetent. The boss might not say anything when the head honcho is around, but you'll probably have to answer for your mistake soon enough.
9. Thinking you're the exception to the rule
Your parents always said you were special, but your boss doesn't have to agree with them. That's why you shouldn't expect to be exempt from the company policies, like vacation day guidelines, the dress code and other department rules. Asking for some flexibility when your children are sick is reasonable, but expecting to always leave early because you have to pick them up from school crosses a line. Your boss expects you to follow the same rules as everyone else.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
Copyright 2008 CareerBuilder.com