Thursday, July 12, 2018

Someone else's bad day

A year ago, I walked into my supervisor's office knowing full well that the conversation would not be a good one. The month prior, as my colleagues around me received news about promotions or transitions, my requests for meetings had been met with silence. It was when one of my coworkers texted me about an urgent coffee meeting, alerting me that I no longer had access to an upcoming course's class website that I connected the dots about my contract not being renewed. The meeting with my supervisor confirmed my fears.

Over the next few months, I would learn how badly my situation was being handled, with those higher up in admin confessing that all of this was not only handled poorly but in a manner that made them worried about a potential lawsuit. On my end, I was determined to exit with grace and as many good reviews as possible, much to the shock of many of the professors and administrators I worked with (hence some of the candid confessions). It was hard to be the pariah walking those hallways, fighting to complete my work to a standard I would be proud of when others were actively avoiding me. But given I was the one with the paper trail for cause, there wasn't much that could be done as I prepared for unemployment.

This past week has been a hard one because today is the day that my new place of employment is firing one of our team members. The situation is entirely different as there is SO MUCH documentation about this employee, including action plans for discipline and documentation of clear goals/expectations not being met. Basically an open-and-shut case for HR. Yet it's been damn hard given my own experience and mistreatment, leaving me wanting to curl up into a small ball as even though it is the right decision for this organization; it's just going to suck.

Last night Grey and I had a long conversation about all of this, tying in with some news on his end. While in Boston, he had lunch with one of his former supervisors (who we call rockstar midwest guy) and learned about the drastic changes that happened when he announced he was quitting after they failed to hire him on permanently due to one asshole supervisor. That basically everything on the project of this asshole supervisor continued to fail, with her blaming others and firing people to cover her butt. That when the team finally decided to take Grey's advice and implement the plan from rockstar midwest guy that everything not only worked, but worked better than anyone anticipated. That rockstar midwest guy is also successfully shopping another device Grey created with him and word is getting around. And that finally the other member of this team was permanently hired after Grey's supervisors freaked out and declared they couldn't loss anymore people from a team that was getting things done. That it basically took him leaving for all this amazing change to happen.

Reflecting on all of this last night, I remembered that too often people stay in situations that aren't working. Whether it's a job, a career trek, a relationship or even roads to family expansion, often we stay because the unknown terrifies us and we are determined to find a way to overcome. But sometimes, the best solution is to cut our losses or be kicked out of the nest. The freedom from having the choice in continuing down a toxic path allows us to find new roads and grow in ways that can lead to opportunities and experiences we never imaged.

A year ago, I was miserable. I was teaching a summer course and gearing up to teach another class all in a manner that I deeply believe doesn't work. I didn't see a path forward and was going through the motions under the guise that it was just a matter of getting others to see my viewpoints. The moment I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed, I started taking chances that I didn't consider before, giving me connections and opportunities that have lead me to this current position that basically was created while I was in the interview for another one.

Looking at my team now, we have so much we need to do before the school year starts. Reagents to prepare, curriculum to update, an event to finish planning not to mention social media to get off the ground. All of which has been stalled by this current person and creating a lot of frustration, meaning it's not a good fit. But all of it is something that I am excited to be a part of as it meets a goal and mission I believe in and have long sought. And it's a team I not only enjoy working with but also believe has a shared mindset.

Today is going to be someone else's bad day. There will be tears, anxiety, anger and even some hatred. But my hope is that this low is the beginning of a new chapter for this person, leading them to things they could not have imagined. Just as it was for me.


  1. Such great perspective here. Allowing the flow of intense emotions, but also observing that there is growth that can come from tough experiences.

    I'm sending some good wishes to the colleague who had a bad day. May the perspective come soon.

  2. I am of two minds here... it seems like far too many incompetent/toxic people seem to get to stay in their positions while really good people get let go (leading to others to leave because of them...!). So I'm glad to see your company taking steps to get rid of someone who is clearly not helping the team and may in fact be hindering your work.

    On the other hand, though, I've been that person who was let go and it's not fun. In retrospect, I stayed FAR too long at the job I was let go from four years ago... I should have looked for something else (even within the company) long before they showed me the door. Dh says they did me a favour, and I suppose they did... I got to retire early, albeit not exactly when or how I chose, and I don't miss work -- but I still get a bit angry/hurt when I think about how it all unfolded.

  3. How incredibly difficult. It speaks well to your current organization that they are willing to take this difficult step, but I know from experience that a day like this will be bad in some way for everyone. I'm sorry you had to be there for it, but glad that this will give your organization a chance to move forward more effectively, and will give this person a chance to find a place that's a better fit.

  4. Such a powerful post. And I'm sending good thoughts to that co-worker; I hope that things went as well as they could.

  5. I love your perspective. And I love this quote and am crediting you for it when I quote it on my blog because I can so relate: "I remembered that too often people stay in situations that aren't working. Whether it's a job, a career trek, a relationship or even roads to family expansion, often we stay because the unknown terrifies us and we are determined to find a way to overcome."


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