Professional Development

How To Save Your Job When You’re About To Get Fired

Written by Peter Jones

Your performance review wasn’t good. Or maybe you just smell the blood in the water. You’ve got a bad feeling that you—or even your job—is on the chopping block. Rather than just hang your head, admit defeat, and start your job search anew, why not try a few of the following steps to save your job? At least then you can say you gave it your best shot.

1. Stop slacking.

If you’ve built a reputation for being lazy, it’s never too late to turn it all around. It will be hard to shake off, but with a bit of work, not impossible! Figure out why you haven’t been giving it your all at work. Eliminate your biggest distractions, like your phone or social media accounts or even particularly chatty coworkers. Identify the projects that you can drum up passion for and then devote yourself to getting stuff done and start delivering real results.

2. Take responsibility.

Did you miss a deadline? Fail to deliver an important project? You can’t go back in time and undo this, but you can assume full accountability for what happened. Don’t blame anyone but yourself and see how you can fix the problem. Then fix it—fast.

3. Handle disgruntled clients.

You said something to a client and now they’re threatening to walk. Figure out—by asking coworkers and team members what went wrong and whether you were inappropriate or out of line—then figure out if the situation is fixable. If you weren’t at fault, approach your boss with the full picture. Be honest and provided you didn’t do anything outrageous, your boss should back you up.

4. Stop gossiping.

You’ve been outed as an office gossip—whether for a one time whopper offense, or a routine habit. You’ve probably got a very narrow window to prove yourself worthy of keeping on. Let your boss know you understand the severity of your behavior and the consequences and insist upon turning over a new leaf. Apologize to any injured parties and behave yourself more professionally in future.

5. Have a heart to heart.

It’s not out of line to have a sit-down with your boss and have an honest conversation—especially if you two have been out of touch or out of sync. Ask about the communication lapse. Ask whether there is anything you’re not doing or delivering that you could focus on improving. Reiterate your passion and commitment to the position and make it clear you’ll do whatever it takes to stay on board.

6. Make a performance improvement plan.

Say your performance has been lackluster, and your boss confirms that you’re not in the best of standing. Sit down and come up with a plan with clear indicators of renewed success. Then set about systematically meeting every goal on your plan tick by tick. Get yourself out of your slump as soon as you can. It will be much easier with clear guidelines. And don’t be afraid to ask for coaching and/or feedback.

7. Go the extra mile.

With everything. Make yourself an expert in a new software. Make a positive and lasting contribution—the bigger the better. Have a stellar attitude at all times. Help out your team and coworkers. Anticipate your boss’s needs. Show your value to the company and your strengths as a team player and you’ll be in much better shape.

The crucial thing is to make sure you’re taking steps to bulk up your career and making changes—and lasting ones. Slapping a temporary band-aid on the situation will not save your job. Overhauling your work ethic and performance, however, just might do the trick!


About the author

Peter Jones