How do I know? Someone just tried to buy it.
I have been underemployed or unemployed for almost 14 months now. I’m broke. I’m desperate. I would do anything for some cash, right? Wrong.
Last week I was offered the perfect job. Pays exactly what I wanted, it’s 5 minutes away, a large company with a senior position, perfect for engineering my future in big “Corporate America”. I took the job gladly.
Day 1: Felt like jumping into a fast moving train. I loved the rhythm, the demand and the high responsibility and that was only the first day. A lot was asked of me almost instantly and I delivered. It earned me praise and compliments fast, but there was something wrong.
Day 2: Very early on I was told that the people placed under my direct supervision were lazy, inadequate and that a swift ‘evaluation’ needed to be made of them. I agreed to perform such assessments. I started pushing my team to deliver on past deadlines and catch up on their work. They were thankful and said they were inspired by my leadership and began to catch up. It’s as if I was giving them a ‘stress test’.
Day 3: The work my department was turning in gets recognition and begins to be noticed. Other department heads are coming to my office to ‘meet’ me and to tell me they are relieved that I’m ‘whipping the place into shape’. Later, more pressure to ‘evaluate’ my team, this time it feels more like a ‘search and destroy’ command.
Day 4: Now everybody is happy. From the sales department head all the way to the CEO. They are saying how impressed they are with my performance and how glad they are to have ‘found’ me. End of the day: ultimatum. I ‘have’ to let go of my team because they are ‘incompetent’.
Ok, so if you follow this chronicle so far, the people placed under my supervision have caught up on their work, produced satisfactory (some say outstanding) output and earned the praise from some of their harshest critics. Why am I being asked to let them go? Not only I think they are capable (at least most of them) but I also know 3 days is not enough to form an opinion for myself.
I said NO. I’m not going to let go of people that are making an effort. I’m not going to throw them into this cruel job market, especially when they are doing exactly what their job descriptions say they need to do. I’m just NOT going to do it.
Day 5: More praise, more ‘you guys are doing a great job’ from people. Canceled staff meeting where I was to be ‘introduced’. Something is not right. I smell a rat. Behold, the company’s attorney.
He tells me “the company has decided to go in a different direction and we’re going to have to say goodbye” (By the way, what a douche-bag! Can’t even fire someone with some dignity) I’m thinking to myself: “Direction”? They don’t even know which way is up…if you see their financial tracking you’d agree with me.
I’m asked to leave ‘immediately’ and get paid for my 5 days of work. I go to my new office, gather my iPod and graphic tablet (luckily still in the box as I had no time to install it) and leave. As I walk through the main door I feel angry and cheated but also sad because I know exactly what’s coming for the entire Marketing team.
One by one, they were ‘said goodbye’ to, with what I’m sure was a brilliant exercise of discretion and diplomacy by the weasel attorney.
If you haven’t figured it out by now I will break it down for you.
They just wanted an executioner. Someone the employees could blame (instead of the company) for having been unfairly fired. If you have had a chance to see “Up in the Air” (2009) you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The thing is, they picked wrong. I’m a tough guy, I may even seem like ‘mafia muscle’ but I will NOT sell anybody out to cover my own ass or just to get some money (even though I badly need it).
It was way cheaper to have me fire these people than to hire an outside company to do it (like in the movie) but in turn, I just inspired some people that were not valued to produce some extraordinary results in just a couple days. I knew I had done that when as I walked away after being ‘asked to leave’ each one of them looked at me and said “Thank you”.
I’m unemployed. I’m broke. I’m desperate. My dignity and integrity are INTACT.
I certainly hope dignity and integrity taste good and are satisfying as it seems I’m going to have to feed myself on them soon. What I know is that I wouldn’t do things any other way.
I work for a company that lends me out to cowards that don’t have the courage to sack their own employees” George Clooney, “Up in the air” (2009)