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.
Keep Up with TechRepublic