Friday, September 21, 2007

Fired by a Bad Boss

I was fired from my job. I worked for a boss who made me quit the college classes I was taking online to earn my degree on my own time. He wanted me to concentrate on my job and told me that if I didn’t quit taking these courses I was taking …there was the door. He said if I wanted to succeed in this business (I worked as an admin) I would have to do what he said and be a team player. When I told him that I had no problem taking classes that he wanted me to take to help me understand our business better but I still wanted to pursue my degree as I didn’t have one and it was a personal goal I wanted to achieve. He told me the only reason I wanted a degree was to show it off. I quit my education per his request.

I also got yelled at on an occasion when other people heard. I got reprimanded because I was in the ladies’ room once when he tried to call my company cell phone and I didn’t answer it (as I left it at my desk when I went to the ladies’ room). He was in the parking lot getting to work when he must have called me to check his calendar for something. He was at his desk by the time I walked back from the ladies’ room (that is how quick it was as I was only gone for maybe 3 minutes} and he yelled at me for not having my cell phone in the bathroom with me to answer his calls as he told me I am to be available to him 24 hrs. a day 365 days a year at all times including when I am in the bathroom. His words exactly.

When I went on my honeymoon (I got married when I worked there) I had to call in everyday to see what was going on. He has jokingly (I use that term loosely) called me names such as “dummy” and has insinuated that I am bulimic when I AM NOT when I don’t eat lunch (because I lose my appetite working for him).

Another admin position within the company opened up and the manager of that dept. came to me as they thought I might be interested in the position, which I was. Company rules are you can inquire about a job without your manager’s approval…once you want to go for it, you then tell your manager and go through the interview process, etc. After the manager of the open position came to me about the job we both went to HR. HR asked me why I wanted to leave my current position, and did I want to pursue this new position. I told her yes, I was interested but I didn’t know what the salary was in the new position. If it was much lower I didn’t want to go for it. HR agreed with me and told me to wait on telling my current boss about wanting to go for this open position until I knew what the salary was. (I also want to add that I did not bad mouth my boss in anyway to HR--I just said I wanted a change in my career as I had experience in the new admin position from a previous job years ago and it was something I would love to do.)

Well here is where things went wrong….. 2 weeks later the manager of the open position came to me (instead of going to HR) and told me they would match my salary and offered me the job. The person in HR I was dealing with was on vacation so I had to wait 2 days before talking to her to tell her what happened. When I did she immediately told me this wasn’t supposed to happen this way. (Meaning the manager of the open position should have never come to me to offer me the job without going through HR). After talking to her we both agreed I had to tell my current boss but advised me to tell a little white lie -- that I was “applying” for another position within the company and not that I was offered the job. So I did. Well he let me go 2 days after I told him as he was shocked that I was leaving him and told me to go home, clear my head and clean my house. I had a tentative start date of 2 weeks to begin the new position within the company. Well within that time my old boss (who is also a Partner in the firm) found out that the proper procedure was not followed and I was let go with a very nice severance package from HR. The person in HR I dealt with and the hiring manager in the new position got in trouble but still have their jobs.

Now I have to start applying to new jobs and have no idea what to tell a new employer as to why I was let go. The old employer where I got fired agreed to tell any prospective employer that I resigned and not that I got fired. I don’t know if I could trust their word but sort of believe they would say that…I hope. I plan on signing up for college classes online again for next semester and thought about telling a new employer that I left my last job because I was unable to pursue my education in my current position. Any advice please?

Thank you!

by Honey Smith, Professional Life Coach

First, I must say: Congratulations on getting out from under your controlling and destructive boss.

Moreover, though it must have stung, being fired from the company of which he was partner was likely a blessing in disguise. Poor communication and highly inappropriate behavior on the part of upper management could easily have continued to cause you serious headaches and further erode your self-respect.

You wrote that the "old employer" would refer to your “resignation” rather than “firing.” Did you mean the HR person you dealt with originally? Given that she got in trouble for how your case was handled to begin with, to what extent will she stick with her promise to say you resigned? Is there some way to get such testimony on paper, as in a general letter of reference that will commit her to abide by this promise?

I also want to applaud your desire to further your education. It's not easy when you are working full time. As you look for the next position, please consider the following:

Who will really value your commitment to bettering yourself? What type of organization, industry and management will see your ambition as an asset and not a threat?

It sounds from what you wrote that you are a dedicated employee and are torn between your educational goals and your desire to do the best possible job at work. Your first boss no doubt saw how conscientious you were and sought to take advantage of this wonderful quality.

So, as you look for the next job, take some time to step back and consider what your boundaries will be. Are you clear on how much you can devote to your job and your studies, respectively? Are you being realistic about your goals and the time-frame for accomplishing them? What are your priorities and where might you compromise, if need be? Importantly, how will you include your husband in this decision-making process?

Honey Smith, Ed.M., is a Professional Life Coach who helps job seekers fast forward their careers, master life transitions and fulfill their potential.

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