I just got fired for the second time this year and if anyone knows me they know that hearing me formulate those words into a sentence is by far the ultimate taser experience. Total shock. I have a proven history of excellent job performance, attendance, teamwork and good behavior so saying “I got fired” even for just the first time around would be the last thing you’d expect for me to say.
“So why did you get fired?”
That is the tried and true ultimate follow up question…everyone wants to know ….the why. Details please….details. It is my belief people want to know the why because it gives them the ability to formulate an opinion on whether or not the firing was justified (aka if I deserved it). Well before I recount the course of events or reason for the firing I will preface this by saying that as in anything there are three sides to the truth (your side, my side and something in between). Knowing this I can only provide you with how I saw things and what was told to me by the Human Resources individuals who so stoically broke the news to me.
Okay so here we go. In the first job that I was “separated” from I was a contractor with a well known staffing agency that provided the entry way into a placement with a financial investment company. I took this job to get back on my feet from moving back to my home state. While I had no interest in the financial industry per se, I was open to learn more about it and do the best job that I could do. That has always been my approach when taking any job: whatever my hands find to do, do it wholeheartedly. The job was 30 miles away from where I lived, but nonetheless I was committed to the trek as the pay was better than what I had been making the last five years. I would get up at 5am to beat traffic and arrive an hour and half early to work just so that I would not sit in an hour and a half worth of traffic. I would do the same thing on the back end which means I would not get home until 7:30-8pm. Despite the long day, I was committed to showing up everyday dressed and ready to do my best.
Without getting into the 11-page detailed recount of the course of events that I documented from start to finish, I will say that from the jump this job and this agency was both toxic and dishonest. Ultimately, what led to the firing was as a result of another individual who directly worked with me. There was another contractor who had been working there six months prior to when I arrived. This person decided to quit one month into my stint as they stated the role was “too stressful.” This person relayed to me the news and stated that I would be a great fit for their position and that they would advocate for me to get it. They also advised me on what the general pay range was for that role and that I shouldn’t settle for less than that. What I had come to find out is the only reason I was even hired (or the job was even available) was because this other contractor had originally been doing my current role but said that the workload was too much and they needed to hire another person. Of course, the roles and responsibilities this contractor no longer wanted to do fell into my lap of duties. There was no formal training, the only “training” done was by this individual which was based on their opinions of how they were previously doing it. I was literally dropped into a whirlwind of emails, condescending personalities, and ungrateful managers that I was supposed to show up, smile and “take it” everyday. For which I did the best I could do.
As this contractor, neared their exit date (which by the way was a rolling quit date that was never formalized because this person was trying to double dip – find another job while keeping the current one while also telling the company they were leaving…soon) I began to be the recipient of passive aggressive communication by the department I supported. There were several attempts to bully me into doing this other contractor’s job without providing me a proper offer (title change and compensation). At no point, did any of the managers have a proper face to face or email conversation with me to offer me this other contractors job title/position and pay. Instead, there were many talks behind my back to manipulate the situation to get what they wanted (particularly one controlling manager). Because I refused to allow this to happen, I received a phone call at 8pm on a Tuesday night after returning home from work from the staffing agency notifying me that “that was your last day at work.” The only reason they gave me was that “I was not a good fit.” That was code for, the controlling manager sees that she cannot control, manipulate and take advantage of you.
This phrase would be repeated again for the second firing that occurred months later. Only this time, the situation was slightly different. Again no job performance, attendance, or professionalism issues. I was merely the victim of a manager or set of managers who hid behind their desks and did not know how to engage with their personnel in a manner that addresses the issues brought up. Instead, it was easier to let the “nuisance” go or the person who advocated, spoke up and respectfully/firmly stated their position on things. I would absolutely love to detail the petty account of this separation but for the sake of brevity I will save the particulars.
Having never been fired a day or year in my life, and having experienced two in one year has been the ultimate test of resiliency. Let’s face it getting fired sucks. There’s nothing culturally admiral about it and the stigma that it carries is by far embarrassing to claim. Yet, in both instances I can say that when the dust settled and I truly looked at the course of events for what they were, I can peacefully say that I would not have done much differently. You see what the firings showed/solidified in me was this is who I am. I am a person who is not okay with being taken advantage of, I know my value/worth and I know the type of work environment that I want to work in. That is an environment that is transparent, respectful, and straightforward. Where people make the effort to have the tough conversations and do not hide behind power.
You see in both firings, neither of the managers had the backbone to tell me I was fired to my face. Neither of the managers gave me any warning. Neither of the managers were wiling to mediate or have anything to do with me after they felt “uncomfortable” with someone like me who they realized would not just accept being taken advantage of.
Many people say to me “well, there’s no such thing as a perfect job. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and just show up for the money.” This is not about finding the “perfect job” or “perfect set of people” but truly about where we are culturally. Where spineless leadership gets protected/promoted and courageous and forward thinking employees get financially penalized and verbally silenced. Where somehow THEIR character is dragged through the mud and made out to be the problem because how dare they cause someone in leadership to feel “uncomfortable” speaking up about the unjust policies and practices they are forced to work under.
I know that even posting this takes courage, because there will be employers/companies that will see this and think “oh we don’t want to work with her.” But I know that by posting this, it will bless others who may have, are and will go through the very same thing that I have just recalled.
Understand who you are.
And forgive those who do not know what they do.