Most Of Us Have Been Fired From A Job At Least Once
It’s usually this terrible, awful occurrence that kills your professional libido. It amplifies your stress level by a bazillion (totally a real number), makes you doubt yourself and your accomplishments, and, if you’re not careful, can torpedo you down a dark path of unemployment.
Now, I’m USUALLY a big proponent of working for a company that treats you with respect and dignity. You haven’t gotten a pay raise in 3 years? Uh, it’s time to move on! Did your male co-worker with less experience AND less tenure get promoted over you? Not coolio! You can do better!
Unfortunately, I Didn’t Take My Own Advice and Ended Up In A Toxic Work Environment
I had been working with this company for almost two years. It was a pretty typical company, nothing special. But, I soon began to see the signs that this was a toxic work environment. While not exact, these are some of the things I heard on the reg (colloquialism for “regular”).
“That’s A Wonderful Idea But Ima Need You To Get Back To Your Desk”
A good leader is supposed to encourage new ideas, ignite creativity and promote others. They look out for the members of their team and rarely put themselves on a pedestal. I quickly realized that my leader was the exact opposite, too wrapped up in her own projects and quick to turn away a new idea that deviated even slightly from day-to-day tasks. After seeing a pattern of total dismissal of my ideas (I was given a pat on the back, a patronizing “wow, that is such a great idea” and shooed off back to my desk), I decided to do what any career-minded woman would do; I took on the execution of some of these ideas alone. It worked, temporarily.
“I Love The Effort That You Put Into This Project But Ima Need You To Give Some Of That Work To Others So We Can Distribute The Credit Evenly”
I’m pretty experienced in SEO. It’s something I took an interest in about 6 years ago and fell in love with! So, naturally that’s one of my first projects that I undertook. You have to know that I’m an extremely thorough and analytical person. I create business cases for every project I want to undertake, making sure that value is clearly attributed and results are measurable. So, my analytical self began to do research, create spreadsheets, present my business case and get to work. Then, in a meeting one day, my project (which I did all the researching and spreadsheeting and business case creation for) suddenly became “our” project that was being shared to our CMO. I’m not a showboat-kinda person so I let that slide.
“I Love That You’ve Got All This Experience But Ima Promote This Inexperienced Kid Over You Because He’s Been Here A Whole TWO Years Longer Than You”
Tenure is great. Knowing the history of a company really gives you an edge. BUT, when you’re a kid who has never run a meeting on your own and thinks the most crucial part of being a manager is ensuring people’s timecards are 100% accurate, tenure really means nothing. I’m sure most people know this, but working for a terrible boss makes work nearly unbearable. But again, I decided to be patient and focus on doing good work and producing results, and let it slide.
“That Sucks That You’re Not Feeling Well But Ima Tell Everyone That I Think You’re Pregnant Because Of How Your Urine Smells”
YUP! THAT HAPPENED. I was about 3 months pregnant but holding off on letting my employer know because I wanted my family to be the first ones to hear the great news. Once we got around to telling my family it was time to let my boss know. So, I walked into her office and say down with a deep sign. I said that I had some great news and that it’ll explain why I’ve been so quiet and distant these past few weeks. She started to smile as I began to get the news out. Of course, her first words were “congratulations”! Then she proceeded to tell me how there was some speculation that I was pregnant because someone walked into the bathroom after I had used it and noticed that my urine smelled like I was pregnant. WTF, right?!?
Then, before I opened my eyes to see just how bad things had gotten and just how much better I could do, I got fired.
It was pretty much the end of the day, and I got called into my boss’s boss’s office. I got the news, packed up my things and drove home. I cried for a few minutes (mostly because I was 8 months pregnant and in month two of a 6-month long deployment), then suddenly realized that I felt lighter (again, 8 months pregnant so feeling lighter was pretty surreal). I immediately ran through the past nearly two years and it hit me like a freight train to the vocational groin. WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I DO THIS MONTHS AGO?”
I slowly realized that I kept making excuses for how terrible things were going that I got complacent. I, for nearly two years, forgot about what I wanted and deserved as an employee and it culminated in my termination.
Most companies have their flaws but if your ideas aren’t valued and your boss cares more about the fact that you took an extra fifteen minutes on your lunch break than about the business case you just pitched, it’s time to get outta there.