Honest mistakes that can get you fired

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 23 Jun 2016

Whether it’s sending an email to the wrong person or accidentally missing a meeting because you got the day wrong, mistakes always happen in our jobs. Most of the time they’re completely harmless mistakes that everyone makes occasionally. However, there are some mistakes that aren’t so easy to recover from. They may appear as honest mistakes that you didn’t mean to make but to others it can be taken a lot more seriously, ending up in your dismissal of the company. Here are a few examples of these mistakes:


Misuse of social media

Social media is very easily misconstrued by many. People aren’t always aware of just how much you expose yourself and your company on social media – and once those words are tweeted or posted, they can’t always be taken back. You can delete them but once they’re seen they’re seen. At all costs, avoid making derogatory comments about your company on social media (or derogatory comments in general to be honest). On social media, you represent your company whether or not you’re talking about them. As a rule of thumb – imagine the one person at your workplace who probably shouldn’t see the tweet/post. Would you say the comment to their face? If not, don’t post it – because if they see it, only you will be in the wrong!

As well as derogatory comments that are unsuitable for social media, another way many people get caught out is by posting fun things on social media when they’ve actually called in sick to the office. Not only does it discredit you as an employee, but it also shows how little you care about the company and therefore your job.

Not being a team player

Sometimes, it’s not part of your job to fulfil the responsibilities of others. And why should you? However on occasion if it makes the lives of your team just that little bit easier and makes your boss’ life easier, then it’s worth it. It may not be pointed out to you how helpful you were but it’ll stand out a lot more when you refuse to help others out. It won’t necessarily get you fired, but if a company is looking to remove someone, they’ll go to the unhelpful staff members who only thought of themselves.

Upsetting your co-workers

Everyone has different personalities, and many people annoy one another without even knowing it. We’re all masters of disguise when someone has upset us over something that’s not worth bringing up because it’s a trivial matter. Other times, if you’re aware that you’ve gone out of your way to upset others and it’s been expressed back to you, you’d better do something about it. Among co-workers, these things don’t get forgotten easily – especially if you know you’ve upset someone. It doesn’t take much to upset the wrong people who may have influence over your future at the company. Be careful what you say!

As well as upsetting your colleagues, if you start getting involved with office politics you won’t be doing yourself any favours. Office politics are never a good thing (and sometimes can’t be avoided) but try not to get too involved. You’re at work to do a job, not to facilitate silly rumours!

Representing the company badly

As well as on social media, you can also do a terrible job of representing your company badly by acting unprofessional in meetings, emails and at events.  If you’re always getting drunk at work outings or showing poor etiquette in an external meeting, you may be called upon as an unprofessional person who possibly shouldn’t represent the company anymore. You may not get fired for this but you will miss out on future opportunities to strengthen your career – and it’ll be a red flag against you anyway.

It doesn’t have to be one huge mistake you make at work that can end up in your dismissal. It can be a build-up of lots of little silly errors that eventually stack up against you when cuts need to be made. However, it must be noted that if you feel you’re being unfairly dismissed from your job, it’s important that you seek the correct legal and HR paths to sort this out.

Other obvious mistakes that can get you fired include always being late, being unreliable, refusing to follow instructions and constantly being negative. These aren’t ‘honest’ mistakes though – they’re things you need to make sure you’re not doing on a regular basis.

Most of the tips listed mainly hint at just using common sense; it’s not too difficult really. But it’s easy to get caught in a trap that you didn’t mean to get involved in. Just remember why you’re at work, and what may happen if you post that status on Facebook or decide not to help out on the latest team project.