I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple
was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The
heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of
being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me
to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
-- Steve Jobs  

Few people want to be fired from their jobs, and many who are fired will not be looking back appreciatively like Steve Jobs did. If you're wondering why, exactly, people get fired, the answer is for lots of reasons.

Lots of stick figured drawn in black and one in red being crossed out with an "X."

Image source: Getty Images.

Below are five broad reasons why people get fired, each with many examples.

Common reason No. 1 why people get fired: Dishonesty

It should come as no surprise that if you're not honest, or outright lie about one or more things (such as on your resume), it will not go over well.

Another kind of dishonesty is when you falsify company records, such as on time sheets, expense reports, or financial statements. Embezzling is another example of dishonest (and illegal!) behavior that can get you fired.

Common reason No. 2 why people get fired: Violating company policy

This reason manifests in many ways because most companies have lots of rules and policies. There may be rules, for example, related to:

  • Attire
  • Vacations, sick time, and time off
  • Dating coworkers
  • The use of company equipment for personal reasons
  • Keeping confidential company information confidential
  • Insider stock trading
  • Sexual harassment
  • The use of drugs or alcohol while on the job
  • Conducting a side business while at work

Whatever your company's rules and policies are, it's best to know them and follow them. If you're using a company computer for a personal business, frequently making personal telephone calls, or under the influence of alcohol while at work -- you're engaging in the kinds of behaviors that can lead to trouble.

Man at desk with head in hands, looking upset.

Image source: Getty Images.

Common reason No. 3 why people get fired: Insubordination

Another reason why many people end up losing their jobs is insubordination. An example of this is when you're asked to do something by your supervisor and you defiantly say "No." Well, yes, that's an apt example, but there are less blatant ways to exhibit insubordination. For example, after being asked to do something, you might simply just not do it. Or you might do something else that makes more sense to you.

This kind of situation can arise if you suddenly have a new boss who you don't respect for some reason. Perhaps he or she is 20 years younger than you, for example, or has much less experience than you do in your field of work. Or maybe new rules are introduced that you don't like, or don't feel are necessary. Rules are rules, though, and your employer expects all employees to follow them.

If you're not following orders because you see them as unethical or problematic in some other way, your best bet is voicing your concerns -- perhaps first with your supervisor, and then the human resources department.

Common reason No. 4 why people get fired: Poor performance

A major reason for many firings is poor performance. There are, of course, lots of ways to be a poor performer, some of which, such as drinking on the job or not following orders, fall into the categories above. Here are more ways that you might be a poor performer:

  • Working very slowly and not getting all your work done.
  • Producing work that is very sloppy or full of errors.
  • Being unprofessional in your work, especially with customers or clients.
  • Being absent or late to work a lot.
  • Abusing the company's sick-leave policy.
  • Sleeping on the job.
Man in suit walking with cardboard box full of belongings.

Image source: Getty Images.

Common reason No. 5 why people get fired: Poor judgment

Finally, there's poor judgment. You might exhibit poor judgment by complaining about your company, or your boss, on social media -- which might also be against company policy. You might spread rumors at work and gossip a lot. Maybe you're visiting inappropriate websites while at work. These kinds of actions reflect poor judgment and can get you fired.

Many of the reasons above that might get one fired can happen if you're facing troubles at home, or if you're not in the right job. Maybe your current job is too difficult or doesn't make the most of your skills. Instead of misbehaving and looking bad -- and possibly ending up fired -- consider seeking help. You might talk over the situation with your boss, or with your human resources department, to try to find a win-win solution.