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.