Monday, March 14, 2005

Can't fire me

Now that I'm a SAHM, I think I can spout off stories about people where I used to work. Don't you think I'm safe? What are they going to do? Fire me? Ha!

I worked for a phone company. I started out as a temp in their construction department. I was finally hired on in their accounting department. More background here

My boss (Frank) was a great guy. He was very supportive. He was one of those bosses who could figure out a problem. He wasn't afraid to dig deep and find the cause of something. He was also one of those who'd show an employee new things. Teach us how things worked. Always helping us become more knowledgeable about the department. The company. This way we'd become better analysts. Better decision makers. All good, right?

One day our CFO, Diane decided to change the configuration of the department. Frank moved over to supervise four other people. Tina became my new manager. John moved along with me, as we did the same job but focused on different aspects of it. Angela and Sue, who already reported to Tina, became our new co-workers. It was fine. But I really missed working for Frank. Tina was a nice lady, but she lacked the motivation to dig into problems. She was one of those who always wanted to look good on the surface. I didn't feel like I increased my knowledge base when I reported to Tina.

Less than a year later, Frank got pulled away for a huge project. The department got reshuffled. Tina moved laterally and took Frank's spot. Someone, Sue was able to get a promotion and take Tina's spot. I was able to move up and take Sue's spot. We hired on Jane to take my spot. Soon after we had to hire Meg to help out Angela because the workload had increased.

Confused yet? I reported to Sue. She was in charge of John & Jane (who had the same position), Angela & Meg (who had the same position), and myself.

Now Sue was a good worker. Seriously. She worked hard. She'd work hours on end to find an answer. No problem. But she was NOT management material. She didn't communicate well with others. She didn't know how to support others. She didn't delegate well. It was a real challenge working for her. Let me tell you that when people in our company would find out that I reported to Sue, they'd say "Oh...I'm sorry." Can you imagine?

I really hated my job once I reported to Sue. It was so difficult trying to gain any kind of praise. You see, she was in charge getting me my raises. She was in charge of upgrading my job. Upgrading my job? Uh...that didn't happen. No matter how much I did. I helped out the payables and assets teams when they were time-crunched. I was one of the members of a four-person team that put together our monthly staff meetings. I was on a cross-market team trying to trouble-shoot our new software system. I assisted with the accounting staff training on our new software system. I did back-up systems when our software system support guy was out of the office. This was stuff that was NOT in my job description.

My job? I ran the monthly close. I put out a monthly schedule to the department. I made sure everyone in our 25 person department had their stuff in on time. I'd make sure all the data was in the system. I made sure all the data was in correctly. I made sure all the managers had reports to analyze the numbers generated by their group. I helped out with month-end analysis. I created new reports based upon managers' needs. I reconciled about 75 accounts every month. Sound boring? It was. That's why I did all that other work.

But did all my work influence Sue to upgrade my job? Nope! She focused on one thing. That I didn't create this one upload program. One program. This program that touched about 5 different areas of our software system. A program that was a bear to research. I just couldn't get it done. Along with all the other things I had on my "plate". What's interesting? When I asked Sue to upgrade my job. She told ME to do the write-up. Ummm...she's my manager. Shouldn't she know what tasks I'm doing? You would think so, right?

But what made it tolerable was getting along with my co-workers. Angela and Jane were my buddies. Those two gals cracked me up. It didn't matter that Angela was a in her 50's, a divorcee, a mother of 3 daughters, and a grandma to one. It didn't matter that Jane was in her mid-30s and a married mom to two elementary aged boys. Then there was me. The single mid-20s girl. We were quite a three-some. When we worked late at month-end, we'd bring in dinner stuff so we wouldn't starve. You know. One of us would bring sandwich fixings. Another would bring side dishes & chips. Another would bring drinks. We took care of each other. It was great.

Anyway, one day the $hit hit the fan. I was in the filing room one Monday with Angela and Jane. We were all putting away files. Cleaning off our desks from the previous week so we'd have empty tray, right? We were chatting away. Talking about weekends. Laughing. But working. Diane (the CFO) walked by the door. Then she walked by again a few minutes later. We just kept on working away. Then she walked by again. The girls and I looked at each other. Frowned. Shrugged and kept on filing. Then Diane stops at the door.

Diane: "I want to see you all in my office right now."

Us: "Okay..."

We're confused. We don't know why she seems upset.

Diane: "Okay. I don't appreciate you using the file room to talk about anyone in the office..."

Me: "We were filing."

Jane: "And we were talking about our weekends."

We looked confused. We were all frowning. We didn't know WHAT she was talking about!

Diane: "Well, you all need to get back to work."

Hmm...that's what we were doing. So apparently it was a crime for the three of us to be in the file room at the same time. It's apparently a crime to be talking & laughing with people you enjoy while you're working. What did we conclude later on when we were eating lunch together? That SUE thought we were talking smack about her. You see, her office is right next door to the file room.

Once this situation occurred, I knew my time to leave was at hand. I started to clean up my computer files. I started to clean up my folders. I wrote instructions on the different tasks that I performed. I didn't tell a soul. I made sure my stuff was organized.

I waited until a week before a week-long vacation. I came in early on a Monday. A Monday that was my day off. I walked into Sue's office, closed the door, and placed my letter onto her desk. She seemed surprised as she read the letter. I can't believe she was surprised!

Sue: "Is there anything we can do to change your mind?"

Me: "No. I just wanted to hand in my notice today. I'll see you tomorrow."

I don't know what happened the rest of that day. It's what happened on Tuesday that surprised me. Diane came up and asked me to come to her office.

Diane: "Is there any specific reason why you're leaving?"

Me: "It's my time to go & do other things."

In my head, I was thinking that if these people didn't know why I was leaving then they were plain crazy. Of course I was leaving because of Sue. But of course I had kept my resignation letter generic. I did not point any fingers. Any sane person would know the real reason I was leaving.

Diane: "Well, we're going to have to let you go today."

Me: "Okay. That's fine."

You see, I had turned in my notice on Monday. I was leaving on Thursday - taking 5 days off I was flying out of the country to visit my hubby. I had planned to come back the next week and finish handing off items. But no...they wanted me to leave immediately. I guess they didn't want to be responsible for me while I traveled? OR they were just so pissed that I had actually quit. Whatever. After working at that company for 6 1/2 years, they were asking me to leave the day after I gave notice. No two weeks. Just leave immediately. How classy was that? I just had time to go back to my desk. Collect my personal items. Write a farewell email and send it off. Thankfully, I had planned on quitting. My stuff was organized and ready for whoever was going to take on the task. I didn't have a farewell lunch. I didn't even get to see all my friends that Tuesday I left. I called most of them before I left on my vacation though. They all knew why I'd quit. Everyone knew. We just never said it out loud. I didn't burn any bridges.

The found a replacement for me. He quit less than 2 months into the job. Jane quit a month after that. Angela moved to a different department. Meg ended up quitting a few months later. Who was left? John and Sue. Two people that no one else in the company liked.

The moral of the story? Just because someone is a good worker doesn't mean that person will be a good manager. Corporations shouldn't be afraid of admitting they've made a mistake at putting someone in a certain position. Rather than have good employees leave, they should move a bad manager to a different responsibility.

A good manager has the following qualities: Nutures the employees. Educates the employees. Is a good sounding board for employees. Always sets up challenges for the employees to increase their abilities and their knowledge. Praises the employees. Rewards the employees. Appreciates the employees.

If you support your employees, then they will support you. Simple, eh?

No comments: