Enterprise Software

So tell me again why you were fired


Maybe it has never happened to you, but I have been fired twice in my career.  Depending upon how you approach it, the unpleasant experience of being fired can be disastrous or it can be one of the best learning experiences of your career.  In my case, I got to pass through this joyful event twice so I should be twice as smart about this subject now.  I speak facetiously of course.  Every situation is different but perhaps we can draw a few common analogies.

I was pleasingly overwhelmed by the response to my recent post about a staff management issue earlier in my career. I only regret that I was out of town after the first post and was unable to participate in the wonderful dialog that ensued after I left my story hanging.  I apologize for the delay in posting the rest of the story.  Thanks to all who commented, including those who pointed out the weaknesses in the personal example that I had not previously noted.

In that last post I wrote that I was fired for "several...failures to carry out directives from above."  Let me be specific.  I was originally hired to implement a new MRP system.  However, I inherited the position and additional responsibility of IT Manager when my predecessor was 'offered' a move to another department.  This left us with a hole in our ability to maintain critical services as the previous IT Manager had doubled as the network administrator.

The company had just gone through a hostile takeover and the new management team was on a cost-cutting mission.  When I was asked to step up to manage the department, it was assumed that I would also be taking over the network administration of about 25 NT 4.0 servers.  We were transitioning to 2000 Server and XP Pro on the desktops.  I have just presented the first problem.  Did you catch it?  I used the word 'assumed'.  Trouble follows that word.

I could tell that management was surprised when I insisted that we hire a network administrator.  There was no way I was going to continue to manage the MRP system, direct the upgrade of 200 workstations to Windows XP and manage the upgrade of 25 old NT 4.0 servers.  They relented to my position and we soon had another first-rate MCSE on board, a friend of a friend.  That was strike one against me.  They wanted to cut staff and I made them hire more.

The second strike was the issue I described in the previous post about management's continued desire to cut staff.  Again, there was no way we could support 200 employees through a major workstation upgrade without a full-time desktop support specialist.  I could tell that management was not happy with my insistence that it required thee of us to keep all the computers running and continue the transition from an old antiquated and custom MRP system.

Strike three was when the MRP system was finally completed.  The very expensive new system was sold to the board of directors with the agreement up front that it would allow the company to reduce staff in several areas.  One of them was in IT so when the project was successfully completed, it was time for me to go.  I am happy to report that the new MRP system was a major success and that the company is benefiting from the features of QAD Mfg/Pro EB2 Sp4.

My point is that you've simply got to remember who is in charge.  I'm in charge of my career and can choose to take direction from upper management or insist on my own judgment, which at that point in my career was probably limited.  Management has a right to insist that the computers will be maintained by x number of people and while you can express your opinion to the contrary, don't be surprised when they say bye-bye after your work is done.

Could the department have been managed with a staff of two?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  That was not my decision to make.  So when people ask me why I was fired, I can simply say, "my work was done - the project was completed."  How about you?  Have you ever been fired?  What were your circumstances?  I would love to read about them.  Be bold - tell us about it even if it was with cause.  We can all learn from each other's experiences.  Thanks.

65 comments
ThePoster
ThePoster

Many, many years ago, the department I was working in had significant problems. Talking to my manager was having no effect. As a last resort, I informed my manager that I was going to meet with the company president, my manager's boss. The company president said that my honesty and forthrightness were impressive, and would be valuable in the company's circle of executive decision makers. I was then offered and moved into a position that was specially created for me by the company president. That was the beginning of the month. By the end of the same month, I was fired. The company had been losing money on implementation projects. My job was to vet the plausibilty of projects before the company would take them on. During a closed-door, executive management meeting, the company president expressed a desire to bid on one particularly huge contract. Because of the short turnaround time dictated by the contract terms, the scope of the contract and a raft of other factors, I recommended that the company pass on this particular contract. Not only did we not have the resources to compete, there were severe financial penalty clauses for failing to meet various parts of the contract should the bid be won. The company president became incensed. The following week I was called into the office and offered the choice of quitting or being fired. I was told that the reason that I was being fired was because no one told what they could or could not do. Apparently the company president had called several other senior level employees whose technical and business expertise was respected. When those employees also gave the same council as I, the company president became even more angry. The terms were that I could quit and be given a positive recommendation, or that "some lie would be created" (direct quote) and I would be fired. I was outraged, and in anger decided to be fired. After all these years, I probably would have chosen differently if I had to make the same decision about quitting or being fired. But I am grateful to have lived through this experience. Among other things, I learned first hand that company culture really does come from the top management. Once in the circle of the top executives, I learned that my former manager, the one that I complained to the company president about, was only implementing the wishes of the company president. I learned that many/most of the negative things that was blamed on "terrible" middle managers was actually instigated by the company president. And, very importantly, I learned that rarely was the company president unaware of what was transpiring in the organization. To the contrary, almost nothing was done without this person's direct say so. I would love to say that all this made me wiser and lead to a brilliant corporate career. More knowledgeable, yes. Wiser? That still remains to be seen. But it has made me more aware of how corporate culture works. Those employees who work for companies that are positive and supportive rarely understand just how lucky they are. Organizations that truly care about their employees in addition to (and not instead of) profits are, indeed, few and far between. For many, being an employee boils down to nothing more than being savvy enough to navigate political waters and surviving.

aharper
aharper

As a young IT pup, I had a position in the operations department that involved reading logfiles, making sure the process completed before manually kicking off the next. My superior made it clear that if we missed any "glitches" in the log and kicked off the next program, we'd be fired. He also said that if we took "too long" (no actual figure was discussed) to read the log file, we would be fired. That boss loved the stick. Since all this was on DG mainframe computers connected to Sparcstations, I wrote a script which greped for the standardized key words indicating an error; "caution", warning", and "error". It also checked the file size of the logfile, which should have been +/- 5% of the previous day's file. I caught every error, but when I told him about the script, he stated "I don't trust grep to find errors. That's why you are supposed to read the file. Run that again, and you're fired." He had no problem that I had written a program myself. No issue with running on the Ops department computers. He didn't trust one of the basic tools used to compare files in a Unix environment. I believe my reply got me fired. Two weeks later, this boss was fired, and they hired me as a consultant. I did my old job for five times the pay. My old boss even applied for a job my new consulting company advertised for, not realizing that the contractor was me. Maybe it was petty of me, but I had him interview. I discovered during this interview that he honestly didn't know anything beyond the commands he had previously typed. I was stunned, and needless to say, he didn't get the job.

ls1313
ls1313

Both times I was fired, it was from jobs that I really should have quit first. That might sound strange and a little bitter, but I went into both jobs thinking that This Job Was It - the job in which I should be terribly successful and from which I should plan to retire. Bear in mind that I was in my mid 20s. In both cases, I realized soon after I started that I wasn't going to do very well in these jobs (the first job was an authoritarian, micro-managing place, and the managers at the second job were convinced that a tech writer could also be a project manager, which is not true BTW). However, I ignored the signs and tried to push on, with disasterous consequenses. I was humiliatingly fired from the first job (my manager had a loud voice that I am sure carried beyond the closed door), and I was allowed to resign from the second nightmare job, but the axe was definitely hanging overhead. I have since learned a lot about myself and a little more about how to screen employers in interviews - the second job gave some clues in the interview as to what they would want me to do, but I was so excited to get an interview at this place that I missed them completely.

allen.terry
allen.terry

My situation is a little odd to most of the postings thus far. I have a very diverse employment history with 8 years in law enforcement and 10 years in IT with over 6 in management at one level or another. I had left a good job to be IT Director for a new company that never opened the doors. Finding myself unemployed for the first time in my life, I was looking for anything I could find. A community college that I had taught A+ and Network+ classes for was looking for a Director of Financial Aid so I applied as I had a good work history there and left on good terms. The Financial Aid Department was also in bad need of system upgrades to get into the 21 Century and the director needed IT Skills. I was the fit they were seeking. I get hired by one person and report to work to another person as the person who hired me was in the process of retiring. Here is where the fun begins. Remember I was in law enforcement for 8 years: The person who is my direct supervisor is the mother of a teenager that I supervised as a juvenile probation officer. I was hired on a 6 month probationary period, and was fired with 7 days left on the period. Reason given: Failure to get my job done in a timely fashion. In the 6 months there I accomplished the following: Migrated loan processing system from DataBase system to online processing program with no loss of funds to students or backlog in processing for the school; Inherited Veterans Affairs issues where the school was 2 days from losing its status to issue GI Bill benefits and resolved it the day I found the error on the previous administrator; and I lost 2 critical staff members in the department right after assuming the position - one to maternity leave and the other due to decision by upper management. But I failed to get the job done. Real Reason: She had filed 2 seperate complaints on me when I was a juvenile probation officer that I was to hard on her son while under my supervision. (While working for her he was arrested yet again for breaking the laws of the land.) Seems to me if she had been a little bit harder on him as a child he would not have been seeing me in the first place 10 years before I reported to her. Talk about holding a grudge.

TechieRob
TechieRob

I've been only fired once, but I was also pushed into a situation where I had no choice but to quit (in lieu of them actually having to fire me) I used to work for a small, up and coming PC repair and sales shop. There were seven employees and I was the only hands on techincal person with my immediate manager as a sales man (though he had extensive technical prowess). To cut a long story short, being as they were up and coming the CEO didn't have a clear business plan as to how the company would fit in with the competition. They also expected me to manage all technical jobs, as well as cover sales and my own training in the same shift. Needless to say I did a good job considering what was expected of me, however they didnt have enough money in the budget to keep me on full time. I was cut back to casual; and in a two week period I worked a total of three hours. Not good. My second job I went to after that was the one that I was subsequently fired from. It was another PC sales and repair shop. But a more established one. There were 4 technicians and a technical manager and three sales guys plus two managers above them. All was pretty smooth and happy - I was asked to learn at a blinding pace with little to no direction as of what was expected of me. The sales people were also clueless and were forever asking me questions. Grudgingly, I was trying to keep everyone happy, running to and from the sales floor to the workshop. I was managing fine, excelling in sales (15k over one fortnight) and learning the ins and outs of laptop repairs. However, politics became my undoing. We had one client who was very difficult. He had a 2000 system that he wanted upgraded, but after inspection it was found that he would need a new one. He purchased an entry level system from us, upgraded it with a TV tuner card and various other fruit. This is where the fun begins Our CEO was one for trying to make customers happy. She promised a lot of things, which she really shouldnt have in order to get the sale. So when he brings in his old machine, he gets 2 hours worth of file transfers (a LOT of video content) for free. Then I get the job of setting up his new system at his house. He had the most bizarre software to use for his tuner card (which was connected to a VCR so he could dub videos to dvds) which I spent a mind numbing few hours to get configured and working. 3 hours I ended up there, everything was working and he was relatively happy. Why wouldn't he be, the CEO also gave him that job for free too!! So a week goes by and I get a phone call. Its my manager. Apparently his computer is no longer working. Great. I take the call and get a torrent of abuse. After calming him down I ascertain as to what the problem is, I find out that he has installed a pirated copy of nero, and that it has taken over playing video files (taking preference over the other software I had configured) and that now he has no sound - all of which is apparently my fault. I forward this onto my manager and they send me out again (also free of charge) and I was able to undo Nero's program changes and restore the settings to the other program. I also fixed his sound. Not more than three days later I receive another call. Its him again. I dread picking up the phone. More abuse. This time, hes had somebody else out as apparently 'I dont know what I am doing' and this friend has supposedly 'fixed' his settings despite now that his program yet again does not work and yet again somehow it is my fault and 'I dont know what Im doing'. I note this and go straight to my manager and outright refused to deal with him, providing her with all my documentation and reasoning. Im a pretty reasonable guy, but I would not deal with a customer who is abusing me for something that was not my fault. But Lo and behold, the CEO wants to keep him happy and has scheduled me out to go see him. Its out of the managers hands, she says. I refuse, and I asked the senior tech to go out in my place. He comes back nearly in tears; with the system under his arm. Management decided that they would give the customer a refund and his old system back as it was. Over 14 hours of work for free, three technicians abused and one unhappy customer. The senior tech and I chatted about it and he said that I had done literally everything that he would have thought of and that I had done my job right Not according to the CEO. I was fired for this due to the unhappy customer. Somehow, even though it was her sale, it was my responsibilty. Apparently I had not done my job right, even though all my documentation proved otherwise. It was somehow my fault that the CEO gave the job hours away for free, It was also my fault for the rogue software... Somehow... Appparenlty the other things that I hadn't done were somehow my fault to, and me actually standing up to a customer and my manager was the final nail in the coffin. Nonetheless, I have learned a great deal from this - that no matter what you do, do not do someone elses job for them as it will inevitably come back and bite you hard. Also that if you are the last person hired, you are the first to be found as a scapegoat and layed off when things go wrong, no matter how well you do your job.

previso
previso

How did I know that? It would have saved your skin if you did. Then again, you now like your job. I have been fired twice, from places I hated. In one, a privately owned company, one of the partners spent the weekly payroll on cocaine, so our checks were no good at the company's bank. I had to buy a bottle of wine every Friday just to get the check cashed. The second time, we were bought out with the intention to snuff THEIR competition out. That was us. The lessons have come later in life than I would have wanted. I think it's called wisdom? Anyway, I hope my children will benefit from my experience in the workjungle.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

in the story that is my working life, I managed and tended a 'bedbuggers' bar. The owner had an apartment below and above the bar, used when whichever wife he was on became a pita to him. He was also an alcoholic. I was fired once because business was too slow, due primarily to him hanging about and driving the ''bedbuggers' nuts while drinking incredible amounts and not paying for it. Once he came out of his stupor, I received a call asking me to come back to work, which of course I did as the money was good and the job was a blast. The following Halloween I was fired because I refused to clear the halloween party customers out because he was hung over and it was too noisy. Go figure. Not enough business, too much business. And they say women are fickle! Yes, I went back to work for him again. Same reason as before! edit: bedbuggers = moving company drivers and laborers

Web-Guy
Web-Guy

I was hired, and in the month it took me to relocate to the new city I found out that they had hired a different boss, a couple of developers left, and 3 new ones were hired. It turns out the new boss was the micromanager from hell and he expected me to be programming at a senior level from the get go. He would come out with GANT charts that had due dates that HAD ALREADY PASSED. He would check progress on us developers 2 - 3 times a day. It was a very stressful environment. He pulled me in his office and said I was on probation and that I better improve my performance. I knew it was over then. Anyway, it turns out it was the best thing. The company went downhill soon after that. Still it was a real confidence shaker and it took me awhile to bounce back. Luckily this was 1999 and there were lots of programming jobs available. I found a great development job that let me grow into the senior developer I am now. I soon was reassured that my skills and competence were top notch.

Mattster67
Mattster67

I was fired from a CompUSA call center in 2001 and had assumed it was something I did. A week after the firing I get a call from a coworker who tells me not only did I get fired but the guy above me did and a telecom person and the only reason why was to cut the overhead prior to spinning off the call center to Telvista (another of Slim's companies). Getting fired is bad enough but to not even have the cahones to tell the person why is cowardess.

mikifin
mikifin

You often get candid feedback you wouldn't get otherwise. Unlike blue collar workers white collar workers are too busy being PC to really give good feeback most of the time. You often find the limits of your abilities if you are stretching professionally and this is the cost of doing business. Nice to know the limits. I always learn something, something very important that I can apply to the next job. AND let's face it sometimes you just need a change and often it is others that see it before you do.

Lee T
Lee T

I hate office politics just as much as you guys, as every firing I've been through was a result of them. I have learned a lot from each time--first and foremost is that you have INTEGRITY and always be true to yourself and everyone around you. People will respect you, even if they don't like you, and if you do absolutely get fired, then you probably were with the wrong people anyway. Here's my three firing stories: The first was in college or high school at this small-town restaurant. Being a small town, a LOT of the people working the place were related to the assistant managers, and some of these relatives would slack huge and dump their work on everyone else. This happened once when I was a waiter with one assistant manager's sister, where I was getting stuck with work I was told in training that would not be my responsibility. I protested to both her and her supervisor sister, and told them that I would not pick up the slack--so they fired me. The other assistant manager was on duty that night too, and she was aware of what happened, and though emotional, I was apologetic but stuck to my guns. The next day, the other assistant manager called when the shift I was initially scheduled to cover was supposed to start and asked if I was coming in :-) hehe so I thought, why not! Let's go in and then and see what happens. I worked the shift, talked for a while with the general manager, who chastised me, but didn't uphold the firing and was usually good to me before that--so I stayed--and the nepotistic assistant manager or anyone else NEVER tried to pull anything on me again and everything actually worked out quite well. The second time, I was working in tech support in Cleveland for this PC rental company based in Cincinnati. The CEO hadn't heard wonderful things about me apparently, but on a visit, he said "My feeling was way off base!" and said I had some excellent ideas and he wanted me to send an email every day I worked to his management to share them (as if I was a Hollywood writer with an endless string of creative thoughts to entertain the viewers). I did my best to comply, but when I started knocking certain aspects of the way they managed inventory, and the fact that I was feeling grossly underpaid (they would CONSTANTLY dump schedule changes at the last minute on us and were consistently disorganized and out of touch with the market we were in--and I took the job with idea of helping them grow it, but they never really gave me any latitude to develop it), I had a conversation by phone where the CEO and COO ganged up on me and told me how upset they were that I was complaining about money to someone who may have been paid less (?!) than me. I stuck to my guns, and the next day I came in and they asked for my keys and my pager. I felt REALLY bad about this and felt like it was a catastrophe, but in reality, the CEO was pompous (the company only had 50 people--but he acted like he was Bill Gates) and the job was a bad fit, as I went in knowing I was way overqualified. I learned that 1.) you should never continue to give away good ideas to someone who doesn't express appreciation for them, you should instead use them to set up competition and bury them, 2.) you should complain to someone who can help you, especially when it's about money, and 3.) change the boss when the old one was great, is when you should expect to need a new job. The other thing that happened with this job is the old boss quit, and she made the job tolerable since she allowed us to vent our frustrations without feeling compelled to tell the home office all about our ranting--which was the opposite of the new boss, who was a "company woman" and told them about EVERYTHING--that's where #3 comes from. The last experience I had was at a college where I was once again desperate for a job (I was SEVERELY depressed and out of work for 2-3 years, thus the desperation) and took one in tech support where I was grossly overqualified. The good thing was that I knew this place and figured with a foot in the door I'd be able to move to a much more reasonable position. I rapidly found out from coworkers that my boss and her boss were both EXTREMELY incompetent and EXTREMELY political--and I just knew that at some point my disdain for the polical game would eventually motivate them to fire me. I am proud to say that it took about 2 months before they yelled at me for anything in spite of asking my boss to give me the hardest assignments she had, which she did. I also made friends with as many people as I could in my department and out, since I knew that would help my upward mobility. We were in the midst of a HUGE migration to Windows Server 2003 and Outlook, and I reengineered the entire process on the workstation to make it take a fraction of the time. Although this made them look good, after while they exaggerated reasons I was doing a bad job and eventually maneuvered things so I would fail because of their own poor planning. When I failed to get this complicated workstation migration done within a ridiculous timeframe for another piece of software to be upgraded, I was brought into the conference room and called a liar and a bad team player and told I should own up to my sins and beg for mercy. I did no such thing and told my boss's boss that I could have communicated and managed my time better, but told him that my supervisor was aware of the timeframe and never bothered to assign the work to me until the last minute and never bothered to communicate the complexity of the assignment whatsoever--further I told him that I was tired of him turning every mistake I made into some political thing. He spit fire and yelled at me in a way that made me glad we weren't in the room alone together since he seemed very close to losing control. I left and went back to work and started calling all of the friends I made who I thought could help. Later in the day, I got this call from the guy who chewed me out asking me when I would be in tomorrow, and saying that "we're gonna be making some changes, so we'll meet tomorrow morning". In my volunteering for every hard assignment, I'd made friends with the head of the programming group and apparently she rescued me from the firing squad when they tried to fire me. I was assigned to work for her (and I was trying to make my way into software and out of tech support anyway!) and IMMEDIATELY following the day I was told I was bad for the team, my old boss asked my new boss if I could help them finish more of the migrations that I had supposedly messed up to get me into this jam! (A line from Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars entered my mind... "If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!") I worked there almost another year, broke my way into software way faster than I expected, and eventually ended up getting invited to the network group staff meeting, because that boss liked my work too, and even my old boss's staff meeting, because they wanted me help solving a problem they had! So everything came full circle and again, INTEGRITY won. I learned that 1.) you can't have enough friends in high places, and 2.) good friends beat good politics any day! Getting fired may be the price you pay sometimes, or quitting when the seas get rough, but if you like to sleep at night... Be true to yourself, be true to everyone else.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Being in my field, marketing, sales, startup management, being fired, 'let go', 'parting ways' etc. is something of a reality. generally people last 3-6 months in this field of work, with good positions working out to a little over a year before the company makes more changes. So have I been fired? yup, bunch of times. Was it due to my in ability? Not really, in my line you get burned out pretty fast, going a year with oen company is a stretch. When working in IT full time, it was a little more stable. Besides temporary contracts I took on, I found that 4 or 5 years seemed the norm. Anythign beyond that falls into the 'complacency' category that makes my skin crawl. I have always found that I moved forward after each change, have made mor money with each new endeavor, so in essence I welcome it (being fired) with arms wide open. We also don't get 'fired' per se. as companies use me to get over marketing holes, evolve new products, develop new branch offices etc. In some cases, my job is to put myself out of a job, takign a struggling company and boosting its image and sales to make it more attractive to potential buyers. once bought, I'm outta there. One thing I have learned though, no matter what teh company, no matter what teh industry or position i held, the job finding process that follows is identical each time. Workign hqard it shouldn't take mroe than two weeks ( in a good work economy) or 4-6 weeks in a tight work economy, to find a replacement gig and earn mroe dough. It's the same old tried tested and true formula, lots of work (somtimes more work tahn the job itself) lots of drive and some good phone skills will see you reemployed in no time, regardless of who you are, what certs you do or do not hold, the competitive environment etc. If you need some help as to how to start moving ahead to find the right career, let me know. First one is free, after that I have to send you a bill though. :)

kevin
kevin

I worked some time ago for a small bank, which got lucky, and gobbled up other banks in the area. Within one day we literally doubled in size, not in support personell. They never spent what they should have on infrastructure and computers. Then we had a new CEO who promised no one would get cut...yeah...BS! Then my old boss quit and we got a new one. Of course we never saw him. Literally I would see him once or twice every 2 or 3 weeks for about 2 hrs. I was young and opinionated. I didn't mind telling them that they stunk. Eventually, they got tired of it and "outsourced" me. After working another job for the next 4 or so years for another ungrateful boss...I am now at another small bank. I love it here. People are great. They take care of us. And most of all they listen. Moral of the story...ride the wave while it lasts and look for the sings of impending doom. Noone wants to spend money on IT but we are the first to get hammered when the bosses internet goes down.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

I was a top performer system wide in a national company, in my position as a technical instructor. The director of standards and training was planning to have me provide the operational standards for all others, a much needed system wide standardization that had been contemplated for some time. I was told the way I naturally conducted myself had resulted in a curriculum that was going to make the task easy. (I have to confess I'd developed it all on paper, on the fly... the first job was going to be to digitize my resulting 'manual') When I was hired I established my position by personal agreement and a handshake with the founder and president of the company at the time. But a new management took over via hostile takeover. Bankers were brought in to head a tech company. For some reason my agreement with the company was a major bug up their keesters. The new CEO particularly despised my agreement with the company. (it sure wasn't about pay, which was less than most others at my level, in exchange for my not having to travel) So he schemed to screw some customers, to cause a temporary shutdown of my operation, to lay me off... all to bring me back under his "standard" contract. I told him, after some discussion, that he was in fact not qualified to run this company.. to his face. He fired me, my immediate manager protested vehemently, he relinquished but offered the same deal. (plus I had to apologize) I had already concluded I wouldn't work for him under any circumstance. He and his cronies eventually drove the company down the tubes, seriously marginalized it, whereas before they came along it was growing by double-digit leaps every 6 months or so. (probably why the bankers took notice) I'm a firm believer in "don't ever be afraid to speak your mind," even if it means certain firing. Better to be right but looking for another job than silent but working under a cloud of any variety, any day. Who knows, maybe one of your managers will turn out to be one of the "two Bobs" of "Office Space" fame. Sometimes "harsh reality" resulting from brutal honesty is appreciated by higher-ups. (maybe even 2-3 layers up, i.e. an indictment of your immediate supervisor?) No regrets, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I found subsequent work, even after informing them of the above. Honesty is the best policy for sure. In the end the only thing that will really matter to you is whether you maintained your integrity in every instance. A little advice from an old fart nearing the end of the line. I really loved that job I lost. But my guts told me it would never be the same, the atmosphere would have been poison... mainly to my self esteem, maybe even my eternal soul. If you lose a job, and you have conducted yourself with clean hands throughout, good things will happen to you down the road. Tough to see and believe it when suddenly the bills can't be met. But such has happened to me, more than once.

maurimev
maurimev

I was working for a local bank as a project leader when the new IS Manager arrive with the brillant idea of using my salary to contract three analyst/programmers instead of me and he will manage the project.

nmcdermaid
nmcdermaid

Please, oh please learn to spell.

jdlisa
jdlisa

I was hired in to work as a contacter for a hideous migration process involving 3 different infrastructures all under one roof - and I was the only engineer. I should have walked away and told them the truth, which was that is it could not be done with any less than a team of fifty. I took the job, wasted time, strung their patience out as long as they could stand it, feeding misinformation to the various managers (the company was in the middle of a buyout) and then left them to drown after having lined my own pockets. This was a strike back at the 'managers' by a humble engineer. The company is now bankrupt.

DaveN59
DaveN59

I have been "laid off" twice in my career, once with class and consideration for me and my career and once in a manner that still irks me. The first time, the president of the company called me in to tell me they could no longer afford to keep me on the payroll. This was a small telecom firm, and the year was 1999, when every telecom firm in America was downsizing. I was taking classes towards a BS degree and had 5 months left to finish it. They gave me a month to "download" everything I knew for my successors, paid my salary until I was finished with school, and we parted ways on a very amicable tone. The second time, the project I was hired to work on was ending and my manager kept telling me they were moving me over to a different project -- right up to the day they called me into a conference room, asked for my keys and disabled my account. My manager, to his credit, allowed me to get personal stuff off my PC (but in front of the rest of the staff), and then I was escorted to the door. I got 1 month salary and a few very valuable lessons to take with me to my next position (the first being, don't ever treat an employee who is basically honest and hardworking like I was treated, especially in front of other employees). Another thing I learned is to always have an exit strategy ready, and be watchful for signs of the impending axe. Thanks for the article, and for the opportunity to vent a little. Davis

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

Why take a job based on assumptions and not fact. That is madness and your biggest mistake!

balasari
balasari

A real smart Boos got all possible work done form me with all pro misses i worked as hard as possible completed several tasks that even i didn't believe could be done alone and so fast finally when all done management started asking me hand it over to some other guys that gave me an indication ... of what was gona happen next and as far as my benefiters wear concerned they didn't moved up .. and finally i was not that worth for them to keep me paying a load of money they hired another guy 1/4th of my salary ... and i was very cleverly thrown away still their are things pending which i started and could have finished them but i didn't on purpose as i guessed the future... me being thrown away ... any ways for others i might have done wrong by not compleating thing which i could .. but per me thats the way i thing i did good finally some disaster happened in my absence ( after i left ) and the People responsible told management that i did it remotely ... can you believe it the management agreed up on and i was send threatening SMS over my cell number by the top management personal

tim
tim

Your are correct in that I do not play golf but I still don't understand how you knew that. Some techs do but I never have. I write in blogs to relax :-) Wow! I would have hated to work for a coke head. Sounds like the guy wasn't into the real world, or maybe he wanted to escape from it. Was the place that bad? Wisdom? That's what you get when you make mistakes, right? That's why old techs are supposed to be wise and young techs know everything - they haven't made any mistakes.

tim
tim

Some people get lucky and find a great job right out of college or tech training. I have heard about people that stay with those companies for years and years. Persoanlly I only know one or two who have done that. It usually takes the rest of us two or three tries to find a good fit. Keep that internet going for the boss Kevin, even if it is his home internet! That's what I have to do and I'll bet I'm not the only one to home on the CEO's home network.

online
online

I've been fired three times. The first, when I was a wet-behind-the-ears journalism school graduate, was from a small-town newspaper where I'd grown beyond their ability to pay me. The second, ten years later, from a bank job I was terribly ill-suited for, with a bank that was soon after caught in the savings and load scandals of the late 80s. From 1990 until 2006 I worked for lawyers. I was fired from my last job despite having successfully managed the IT portion of two office moves and gotten a large bonus for being an asset to the firm for nine years. I'm still not absolutely sure why I was fired. My boss, the firm's non-lawyer COO, called me into his office one day and told me we'd have to find me a new job. He wasn't happy about it, but he had to answer to the board. I stayed on for two months, helping train my replacement. It was in many ways an amicable firing. My theory was that one of the high-powered attorneys was upset when his laptop broke. He'd complained for months about various issues. I knew a re-install of Windows was in order, but he could never let me take his machine away for two days while I fixed it. It blew up at the worst possible time, of course, and took me five days of working at the remote site he was temporarily working from to get the system up and running. I'm pretty sure he yelled long and loud about my "incompetence." Now I work for a big multinational, not an 85-employee law firm, and I'm much happier. My scope of duties is limited (I don't have to worry about every bleeping computer, printer, server, or Blackberry) and I'm making a good deal more money. And it's four miles from home!

Pete_B
Pete_B

I?ve never been good at office politics and, to be quite honest, I never want to be good at that either! I served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years and, as was previously stated by a fellow serviceman, I was trained to train all of my subordinates to do my job because the idea was to maximize their potential and train them to make decisions. I was also taught some other principles that do not seem to be applicable to civilian life: 1. Don?t bad-mouth your fellow employees, earned respect of your fellows is the key to cooperation. 2. Don?t bad-mouth the boss, even behind his or her back. 3. As a manager, always gather the facts before you make a decision as contempt prior to investigation shows a lack of respect for subordinates. 4. As a manager my primary duty, above all else, is to support my subordinates. The civilian rules seem to be: 1. An employee?s value to the company is the sum of character defects whether the character defects are real or generated through the rumor mill. 2. Always bad-mouth your coworkers in a politically correct way because this is how you earn job security and establish yourself as being superior to them. 3. Hard work is 10 percent of success, 60 percent is office politics. 4. While you are wondering why the rotten, nasty, mean and non-productive person is still with the company, and you refuse to act this way because you have ethics and respect for other people, your manager is looking at your humility as a sign of vulnerability that they can exploit. I have been fired from two jobs. The first one was due to office politics. I was working for an airline as a maintenance scheduler. I was getting things done and my coworkers did not like this. The grapevine went into full swing to the point where I had three X marks carved into the side of my car which means 3 strikes, you are out. Actually I was glad I got fired because even though the CEO says that office politics will not be tolerated he cannot control his 20,000+ employees. After leaving that job I had to do something so I went to work for a trucking company as a dispatcher. My boss and I were supposed to pull weekend duty every other weekend. On his weekends he would not answer the phone so I had to run back and forth every weekend. This is when I initiated a new job search. Luckily I had a new position when I was fired. The reason I was fired is because I complained when one truck driver busted another truck driver?s jaw with his fist and I wanted to fire him. A few days later I took a day off to fly out for my job interview. My boss saw my bag which held my suit and my plane tickets on the seat of my pickup truck so he assumed I was going for a job interview. I was called into the HR representative?s office and fired. They said I was fired for complaining about having weekend duty every weekend. I?ll take that, as long as it happened after I started my new job. I am now a systems engineer and a project manager and am darn glad to have a career path that is not restricted to one industry. I still do not play office politics. I suck it up as it comes and when it gets too thick I move on to another job. I guess that this is how the civilian employment goes. I hate it but my family has this addiction to groceries and shelter so I have learned to be tolerant. Personally, I still have a great family, a great dog and a Harley Davidson; all of which office politics can never take away from me.

McMedics
McMedics

Hi, Thanks for your story, though valuable its really sad. What were the signs of the impending axe ? What did you do wrong ?

robo_dev
robo_dev

Worked for a computer broker (who was later prosecuted under the RICO act). One day they decided to eliminate all salaries and put everybody on straight commission. Had a not-so-pleasant conversation with the VP of the company, who was the president's brother. The next day, 3/4 of the sales people were fired. End of the exit interview was not pleasant. I knew that the guy kept a loaded .38 in his top right desk drawer, so when he told me to "get the ___ out", I decided that would be a wise career move.

tim
tim

I continually asked for a job description but never received one so I wrote it myself. That's another lesson learned from my short life in this publically held company - always, ALWAYS insist on a job description up front. You are held to that in reviews. It's tough to perform if you don't know exactly what is expected of you.

previso
previso

Above they make policy over golf. That "bonding" akin to a HS football team.It would be difficult to get fired if you play golf with the Dept. head. Furthermore, it allows for inside info on what is in his head. Especially if you pay for the beer. The cokehead boss period was a nightmare. I enter a position with a "We are the champions" attitude. The Musketeers. Boy, what a wakeup call!

Double DeBo
Double DeBo

I got called out to an Attorney's Office when I ran my own IT Consulting Business a few years back. The were having some problems with their server and a few of their desktop computers. After fixing the computers and the server I did some updating and some more configuring to allow for better running of their network. All of this was approved by the main attorney of the firm. After all was done and said I handed him the bill and informed him that all requested work had been completed and that I had also fixed a few more things I had found wrong on his network. He thanked me and then gave me the weirded look, then he said ok have a nice day, I'll see you later. I asked him to point me in the direction of who would write the check for payment. That is when things got unpleasent. He informed me that he was not going to pay the bill and there was nothing I could or would to about it. I sat down in his nice leather chair and informed him that if he wanted to go this direction then I would be forced to go talk to every IT Person I know (I know a lot of IT people in my area) about his firm. That they were not to be trusted when it came to payment for services rendered. He smiled at me and said "you would do that?", my response was "you bet your 5th point of contact I will". As we use to say when I was in military service, "**it roles down hill and you are nothing but TP at the bottom". Needless to say we sat and had a nice conversation of how to do business and not screw others over in the process. He did finally write me a check for the services I had performed + another 10% for standing my ground and teaching him a few things with how to deal with people in general.

tim
tim

I do some consulting for a law firm on the side. I do not recommend it, especially if they are trial lawyers. There must be something about being a trial lawyer that makes you see everyone as an opponant. Glad to read that you swung a good deal. Thanks for sharing.

storch
storch

I have been fired more than once and neither time did the firing have anything to do with the quality of my work. I am not good at office politics either. It's often confusing. I feel like I am getting mixed messages. I am female and for many years, I have worked for male bosses and with predominantly male co-workers. I have not had a problem with that. As soon as the men saw that I did not expect special treatment and was willing to work hard, I was totally accepted. I became accustomed to working with the guys and am very comfortable with that arrangement. Now I am working for a female manager and I am having a devil of a time. I seem to always be getting into trouble because I don't pick up on her subtle hints and assumptions. I know not all women are so indirect but this one is a master of the subtle. I feel like I have to spend a lot of time digging out of her what she wants from me. I have a bad feeling that I might get fired, and this time it will be because I can't read her mind! Seems a bit unfair. I am rather at a loss. storch

Amnezia
Amnezia

Family ... DOG ... Harley Davison? The Harley's gotta go above the dog!

tim
tim

I especially appreciated your comparison of the rules. Ain't it the truth! Respect, earned or unearned seems to have lost its place in the world today. I can take a lot of crap from co-workers and bosses but show a man a little respect and you've got his loyalty. Show him a lot and he'll die for you. You won't find that in the civilian world. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Pete.

Mr_Fen
Mr_Fen

I have only been fired once but made redundant twice. My firing was because I developed a time saving process that shortened a 2 week task into 3 hours and demonstrated to my boss that I was now free for additional tasks. After documenting it I was asked to take my stuff reception and was relieved of my pass.

jdlisa
jdlisa

I'd have walked back in with a 12-gauge (or better yet, a 4-bore).

bfrankenhoff
bfrankenhoff

the best thing you can do is be aware: 1. when your manager starts micro managing you get out 2. when you are "bullied" into objectives/deliverables that absolutely have nothing to do with what you have control over. or numbers for the sake of numbers unless you can handle "giving what is asked for, regardless of the outcome" see Deming's opinion of mgmg by objective 3. watch if the folks above you, directors/vps are getting antsy about their jobs, odds are you are a threat 4. encourage your staff to keep current skills and a current resume. (shows trust and they will also be prepared for the mass exodus) I have been "fired" twice, laid off once (but this was a HUGE layoff and nice severance package and IP transferred to the home office) and I have jumped ship 3 times before the writing was on the wall. I have become very attuned to the signs of an incompetent director/vp and move as quickly as possible. Always keep your resume up to date and your contacts handy. Most of us are good folk and care about our customers and our employees. However, in the corporate world your focus needs to be on upper mgmt, regardless of how clueless they may be. That is a very hard lesson to learn.

Victorw
Victorw

Hear, Hear! If you are not getting a (& I would add the word detailed) job description up front you are setting yourself up for a very painful fall. Because once they get you without a job description, what is to say that they will not just add duties on more & more, all the while telling you that it is part of your (imaginary) job description.

melias
melias

Do you have specific information, or are you generalizing?

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

The ONLY clients who have ever stiffed me ave all been lawyers. One of them ad the gall to very casually tell me that to sue for the money would cost me more than the money I was due, so I should not bother. I'm surprised he didn't charge me for the advice. Lawyers are the bane of this world, always have been. "Lawyers are plants that will grow in any soil cultivated by the hands of others, and once they have taken root they will extinguish every vegetable that grows around them. The fortunes they daily acquire in every province from the misfortunes of their fellow citizens are surprising. The most ignorant, the most bungling member of that profession will, if placed in the most obscure part of the country, promote litigiousness and amass more wealth than the most opulent farmer with all his toil..." Letters of an American Farmer; H. St. John Crevecoeur (1787)

Lee T
Lee T

I've worked for both men and women who were my managers. I've had the guys be all over the spectrum as to their quality, but the women have almost always been the easiest and most fun to work for, or they've been at the other extreme where you dread going to work, and when you go home they've been so nasty with their mind tricks they drive a grown man to want to cry in their mother's arms! I got hired by a library once and the librarian in charge of the computers became my supervisor. She was supposed to do the training and the website (more people-oriented stuff) and I was supposed to maintain the hardware and run the network. She for some reason must have felt threatened by my talent, since even though it was my first IT job, I ran things single-handedly with ZERO problems when she went to a week-long conference only a week after I started working there. She would let me make mistakes and then DAYS later, after I'd made someone powerful very happy, she would dump all my mistakes on me at once and chastise me like I was a bad little boy. It was my first professional job, and a predominantly female environment, so between my two-faced boss and HR, the politics ate me alive. I was offered another job before things got bad that paid better with a tough but excellent boss (who happened to be a guy this time). One of my last bosses was one of my favorites though--she brought out the best in everyone who worked for her and she took care of problems we had to overcome to get things done in a very lethargic environment. Star Trek sums it up best--women in one episode ("Spock's Brain") are called "givers of pain and delight".

tim
tim

I've just got to comment on this one. It was so refreshing to read your post. I especially liked the part about having to pick up subtle hints from your female boss. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. I have worked for several female managers, almost all of them CFO's. I fought all the time with my first one for almost the very same reason you noted. I tried my hardest to get a straight answer on budgets and limits on authority. Why couldn't she be direct? I think it was a power thing. The next CFO was much better to deal with. She was still quiet when I thought a decision needed to be made but I learned to wait until she was ready. Sometimes I had to schedule a meeting just to make a decision because the face to face thing was so important to her. I can understand that. My current CFO is a blast. There is no way you can miss her direction. There is nothing subtle about her. I like that. I always know where I stand with her. She yells at me when she thinks I am off base in my budget requests or project authorizations. But she does it with a lot of love so it's no big deal. Go figure.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Nike, Dog THEN family....but where does beer fit in? Okay, family can be a close fourth to beer then, hang on...... METAL! now metal beats out family too, hmmmm. I guess the best idea pseudofamily, they THINK they sit on top but really it is just a virtual reality to make them feel important. ]:)

davidsont
davidsont

Like you I was fired for speaking up when the majority would recommend keeping your mouth shut. I worked for a growing company which had about 1000 employees over a large region. The bottom line was office politics. It was apparent that management was trying to create the work environment where you would tell your teammate to f**k off instead of help and that wasn't a very pleasant environment. I had just received a major salary increase for my annual review with "exceeds expectations" everywhere. About 3 weeks later I felt that I should talk to management about the work environemt because instead of quietly bitching about it it may be better to look at form a different angle - can't expect things to be better if you don't tell someone their is an issue. Although I had experienced riffs in the past with the CIO over projects or direction we had a pretty good relationship. The conversation went well and everyone in the department was very glad I took a stand to try to create a more positive work environment. A couple weeks late I came to work and was met in the lobby, escorted upsatirs and fired. There reasons were that I wasn't happy with my job and then they tried to dump 2 of their project short-comings on me as additional reasons. Within 5 minutes I had everybody in the room shaking. The VP of Human Resources was obviously misinformed about the reasons to fire me, the CIO needed to set the coffe down before he shook it all over himself and my network manager, who did not agree with the firing but needed to keep his job, had pushed himself over by the door as if to leave. I told them that they were in the wrong and it would be esy for me to go down to a local leagal firm and get a 6 figure settlement - but I was not that type of person. Instead I explained that I simply wasn't supposed to work there anymore, my life was going exactly as it is supposed to and dispite them using me for a scapegoat, when I walk out the door they are still going to have their problems. I decided to take a break for a few months just to make sure that I was a good employee for the next company. The people I worked with could not believe that they would fire me - especially since I had built the network and was a valuable resource. Nobody said anything after that and the environemt got steadily worse until they separated the IT department into 2 divisions and put them in to different buildings. I did meet with several of them on the weekends for about a month and a half to help them continue on with their projects and complete some stuff. We would meet at someone's house and work while enjoying a football game and pizza (with no knowledge of that getting back to management). Even with them firing me I wanted them to succeed and passively helped with what I could for my teammates. It ended up being a great thing down the road since i was able to strees to potential new employers that teamwork and a positive work environemt were my highest priorities. I have worked in my new job for almost 4 years and my COO is extremely happy with the services I provide. They let me do my job. They hired me for my experience, knowledge and ability to learn quickly. It has restored my faith that there are companies out there who do value there workers and understand that creating a positive work environemt AND utilizing your resources can be very advantageous to project completion, accountability and ROI. ..but it does suck to get fired. Being kind is not a weakness, it is harder to do as the years go by and employer/employee loyalty fades. Great post - I thought I would share my short story. Good luck to all. terry

robo_dev
robo_dev

the president of the company would bring car stereos and radar detectors to the office to sell on Monday morning. These items somehow got damaged, such that the serial number plate was somehow removed or filed off.

storch
storch

I like your 4 point warning signs. Very helpful. Thanks. If I had paid more attention to them, I wouldn't have gotten fired. I should have departed when I observed point #1 happening. Wiser now...

ctaylor
ctaylor

Always always always keep in good relation with the shipping and receiving staff. These are the ones who see first hand when shipments drop and/'or progressively decline. These people are the true bellweather of whether the company will be having revenue problems in the near future. Ready anticipation facilitates positioning. It's up to you to decide whether to buckle down and ride the storm, or read the writing on the wall. I've never seen mass layoffs that were not forewarned by decreased shipping and receiving actiity. The other note I'll add is to always drive by potential employers during nights and weekends - assuming tht the company is not a 24/7 operation this will tell you a lot more about the true expectations of staff than anything they will tell you in an interview.

Double DeBo
Double DeBo

due to those same signs. Good thing I can see, these new glasses are working great.

Wizard-09
Wizard-09

After working for a company for 3 years i was looking for a change, i was a department security coordinator & intergation owner dealing with IBM /AS400 and desktops, servers, and networking. I was looking for a change went for a interview got the job they were really impressed with me 2 months later i get fired the reason not performing " well you can't perform on something that you in't shown it was a software company i was to be a software support engineer i did all the research and i nailed it on the interview but they never invested the time i did in learning the company and what its task best thing ever happen me i am in a better job that i no how to do desktop server networking :D

mackay_723
mackay_723

I fell into the trap of no Job Description, as a result am now wearing more hats than I would like. Best thing that happened for me though is a key person left the business, and Management started to realise what I was actually doin, and so reviewed my renumeration to the tune of $7,000 a year

grouper
grouper

to take my current position without a job description. Or at least, they had a job description, but it was one written in 1998 by someone with no technical background. This job went neglected for so long, I just took it upon myself to write my own description because after I redesigned the infrastructure and overhauled everything, who else was going to do it? I'm the only technical staff out of 130 so I also put that in our technology plan, which I also wrote.

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