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Reeling from being FIRED. What just happened here?

By marysonthego ·
I've been out of the computer business for about 5 years. I thought I was on the hot career track, but life happened. Nuf said, that's not why I'm typing away here for the first time, anyway. After a long, hard search, I managed to snag a little IT job with a small local company. Help Desk for about 130 users. IT department consisted of 4 people total, myself included. We had a server admin - female, a database guy, a manager guy, and then me.

I was excited but nervous about my new job. Having been out of things so long I felt kind of intimidated and worried that my knowledge was way out of date. I figured logic and research would save me - it always had in the past. In that distant past I'd had a stellar career spending 8 years at a huge company where I worked and studied my way to the "buck-stops-here" level of tech support before moving up to development. This was followed by 3 years at another big place where I reveled in doing original Java development. R & D was such fun! But after 5 years doing nothing much more than setting up a wireless network in my house, I was worried about being able to handle support for the XP boxes and Windows servers.
Best I can figure, the people at the new shop were a bit intimidated by my heavy resume. What they didn't realize was that I was just as intimidated by them! Things got off to a rocky start when I discovered the sad state of their SOPs for building new user machines. They used a lot of apps I'd never heard of and between my lack of knowledge and their lack of documentation I spent a lot of time taking notes and asking questions. It took me. I tackled the task of rewriting some of the worst SOPs, until I was told that wasn't my job. I wasn't trying to step on anybody's toes, it just seemed logical to me that the person using the documentation was in the best position to update it. Right from the start the other female in the department seemed to be on the attack. I've worked with lots of different people in my time, but never with anyone so nasty! I didn't believe she meant all the mean things she said at first, and just smiled or shrugged it off. But, you know, it started to get worse. She would tell me to do something, which I'd do, then when the boss came along later and yelled at me that I'd done it all wrong, she denied ever telling me to do it that way. I may be naive, but this was a first. A co-worker who tells you to do things the wrong way then lies about it?

About 3 weeks in to my new job, I finally decided I had to tell the boss what was going on. I'd never had to approach a boss with this kind of thing before and I didn't know how to go about it. In the end, I sent him an email detailing a couple of very specific incidents where I was blamed for nothing more than doing exactly what she told me. Can you guess what his response was? Nothing! I might as well have sent my email to the bit bucket! He never mentioned it at all. It was as though I had used the wrong fork at a formal banquet and everybody knew about it but no one was going to say anything. This went on for a few days until it was time for a review. He seemed very angry with me, and I thought for sure he was going to fire me right then. But no. He actually couldn't come up with anything bad to say about my work other than those specific things I'd put in my email. These he didn't mention at all, and in fact told me I was really keeping that ticket queue down very well. He looked like it killed him to say it. I kept my head up and finally realized that I was in big trouble. I started sending (polite) confirming emails to the other female everytime she gave me an order. I wanted things documented for my own protection. But after a couple of days of that he called me into his office and told me in no uncertain terms that I was to stop sending emails. If I had anything to say to him I should come to his office and say it.

I was fired six weeks into my new job. I was on my way to work Monday morning when my cell went off. It was the HR manager calling from the company to tell me that I was fired. When I asked her why, she said I made too many mistakes.

One other bit of info I should tell you is that the last person to have my job (a guy) was also fired.

I want to know what kind of experiences you others have had in the workplace. I'm sure this is not the worst thing that's ever happened to anybody on the job, just the worst that's ever happened to me!

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give yourself some recovery time

by B9Girl In reply to Consider yourself lucky

"A co-worker who tells you to do things the wrong way then lies about it?" They usually call this psychopathic behavior... Most of us feel a bit guilty when we tell lies, even small ones. A true psychopath cannont feel guilt or remorse. So I'd agree with buschman, count yourself VERY lucky you don't have to work with that woman.

Now the hard part for you is getting your self-confidence back after being fired. Like getting dumped by a new boyfriend (after a few datss), your ego is bruised, but not crushed. Take the time you need to get over it before you start looking for another. I know people are saying do it right now, today, but you need to be ready. It's a very emotional thing to be fired, no matter how long you've been with a company. Acknowledge that and give yourself the time you need to recover from this emotional workout. It is not playing victim to give yourself a little time to compose yourself. You want to do this so that when you go on your next interview you aren't tempted to unload about how you were wronged by the company. Be honest when asked, but give yourself enough time that the topic of firing is old news.

A book I've found helpful is Emotions Revealed by Paul Eckman. It's not quite what you'd think - he writes about how we, universally, reveal our emotions on our faces. In one of the later chapters he goes into a situation where a person is fired from both the perspective of the firee and the firer. A flash of anger, resentment, disgust on both sides, and what does it all mean?

Good luck!

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dignity and respect

by jhogue In reply to Consider yourself lucky

None of us deserves to be yelled at for making a mistake in the workplace. Everyone is entitled to be treated with respect. A boss should sit down with an employee and calmly explain the problem and how to correct it. Regardless of the details of the situation with the female supervisor, this boss is a first class jerk. You will be better off with a job where you are treated decently.

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Only Six Weeks

by dbertsche In reply to Reeling from being FIRED. ...

I've been in somewhat similar scenarios and I can't add a whole lot to what's already posted. On the bright side you were only there six weeks so I wouldn't even list this on my resume. I think there's some good advice in several of the other posts to go a little slower and establish the trust but even doing that might have only gotten you a little more time with this company. So consider yourself lucky that you got out before you were subjected to anymore stress.

Good Luck with your new job search and hope you land some place where you get treated better.

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Ignore politics at your own peril

by amcol In reply to Reeling from being FIRED. ...

You were doomed from the start.

Your experience was not consistent with the position you took. It's certainly possible to go from a big company to a small one, and vice versa...people do it all the time. However, every organization has its own unique corporate culture and the differences are a lot more pronounced when comparing two companies of vastly different size. You were unprepared for those differences, and it sounds like you didn't do very much to understand the culture nor try to fit in. You may have been rewarded in the past for taking initiative, correcting errors, raising the bar, and generally doing things right, but you can't assume that's how things work all over. This organization sounds more like a status quo, don't rock the boat type of place, and there you were slapping paddles. No wonder you got thrown overboard.

It also sounds like you didn't do very much to understand the interpersonal dynamics. The person you ran afoul of obviously wielded more power than the boss. It would have been interesting to have found out why. Was she there a very long time and considered indispensible? Was she related to the company's owner? Was she getting it on with the boss? Was everyone just afraid of her? Had you taken the time to figure this out, you could have modified your approach accordingly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not beating you up here. For your own sake, I'd like you to avoid the victim syndrome and take personal responsibility for what happened. If you can do that, you'll not only feel better about the whole thing because you'll feel more in control, it'll also be a much better learning experience and you can avoid a similar situation in the future.

All in all I'd say they did you a favor letting you go, although the way they did it was ridiculous and unprofessional. This is a situation that would have deterioriated to the point where you would have been totally miserable...better to have it end quickly than twist slowly in the wind.

Don't let this bother you. You know how good you are, this is just a case where a small number of people couldn't recognize that. Their problem, not yours. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get right back up on the horse and ride away into the sunset. Do it today.

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different culture

by pivert In reply to Ignore politics at your o ...

I agree. In big companies, everything is more structured, if not it's pure chaos. Smaller companies are more flexible. I'm not saying you can hide yourself in a big company but what you do is much more a group/department effort.

Small companies do it in another way. No hiding, every buck counts. The story of the SOP's is quite characteristic: they don't have time to follow nice procedures, just insert the cd's and go for it. Sure it can be done better but how much does it take to keep such a system updated and experiment with new and untested procedures. But as you experienced: in smaller organisations the feedback (pos or neg) can be real quick and direct.

I don't think people can switch between big and small. It's a completely different culture. I hate endless meetings, rigid procedures, being a grey mouse, waiting for others to take a decision,...

I like being the person that can make a difference and make decisions. And yes this means struggling with a printer in the morning and in the afternoon discussing the direction to take for the next years. It sure means you have sleepless nights sometimes :-)

And yes I was fired once. Worst experience ever. Be objective about it. Try to learn from it. It still bothers me sometimes although I was just one of the pieces on the chessboard in a mgmt-fight.

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I agree with Pivert

by gphoto45 In reply to different culture

Switching between different sized companies can be a real bear! The cultures and rules are so different. I was self employed, as a computer consultant, got a job in a larger corp., and was miserable. I had to leave the job. I am now once again self employed, as a computer consultant. In the morning I may be a help desk, afternoon installing a server, and the evenings removing the newest virus from home computers. I couldn't, and have no desire, to adjust to a large corp. I can not deal with the office politics. Just pick yourself up, and get right back in to the industry. If you what to update your skills, there are a lot free classes on net, like the ones at HP. I have several friends that work, for free of course, in chat rooms, that help with tech problems. I spend some free time there, myself. Great ways to polish up your help desk skills, learn the newest technology, and teach other people what you know. Get the right room, and you can have a lot of fun, along with learning and teaching. The industry is growing way to fast to worry about the last job. So many opportunities! Get back on the horse, and Hi Ho Silver!

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Peter Principle -- good office politics book

by mgordon In reply to Ignore politics at your o ...

You might read a small book, "the Peter Principle" by Dr. Lawrence Peter. He explores office politics in a very refreshing way.

IN words: "Everyone rises to his level of incompetence." Competent persons are promoted until they are no longer competent. But are they demoted to their most recent competency? Not usually. They get stuck at something not well suited. Eventually a whole company can become incompetent EXCEPT the new hires and the very top.

He also explores mentors and who will be your enemies. Your enemy is your immediate supervisor whose job you are in line to take. The more excellent you are, the greater the threat to your immediate supervisor. Your friend is HIS (or her) immediate supervisor, who feels good about promoting you one step -- THEN beware! Your co-workers at the same level are not enemies, but they ARE competition, and will step on you if they can.

Good teamwork happens when supervisors have a clear path for themselves and do NOT feel threatened by a subordinate; but rather see the excellent subordinate as an opportunity for the supervisor to advance (and take vacation). I spend an hour or two pretty much every day teaching my new hires everything that I know, that they are capable of learning. It's a lot. I fully expect one of them to take my place. I'm not exactly sure w.

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Countermeasure

by jkameleon In reply to Reeling from being FIRED. ...

> She would tell me to do something, which I'd do, then when the boss came along later and yelled at me that I'd done it all wrong, she denied ever telling me to do it that way.

If you ever come in such situation again, there are two things you should do:

1) Do only what you are told to do IN WRITING, and nothing else. Only in writing. Insist on it.

2) Look for another job.

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Absolutely

by tim.doyle3 In reply to Countermeasure

I got fired from a non-IT Position after a WEEK for doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. ALWAYS get job offers in writing, make sure they document what you exact job requirements & tasks are. It'll make things easier if they try to fire you for not doing your job, etc.

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Run for the door

by MWatch In reply to Countermeasure

In order to protect my own sanity

If I'm in a position where I feel I must protect myself from people I'm trying to cooperate with the game is over. Someone is going me or them and if it's a struggle trying to figure out who then it's me. Life is way to short to stroke out because of a job.

Thank your preferred supreme being for intervening so quickly. You could have smeared political butter on everything in sight and all that would end up happening is you get greasy.

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