Termination for Cause (Part 3)

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The main purpose of middle managers, in my opinion, is to lead, guide, motivate and coach their direct reports. Vision casting is the job of senior management, and doing the day-to-day operational work is the role of individual contributors. Middle managers so focused on becoming visionary leaders that they don’t invest in their staff are a bane to organizations, as are micromanaging middle managers who who create a disconnect from their staff with their meddling.

My team at work has recurring meetings with our primary vendor every Tuesday from 7:00AM until 9:00AM. Every week, we spent two hours talking through status updates for each of the various projects on which we collaborate. If an employee were to resign and this was her last Tuesday team meeting (hypothetically speaking, of course), this would be a great time for her manager to give a small speech or simple public farewell thanking said employee for her eight years of service.

Did this hypothetical manager publicly thank this hypothetical employee during her final group meeting? No. Has she privately wished me well? No. Did she even take the opportunity to let everyone know it was my last meeting? Yes. But all she said was, “This is Aurora’s last time to join this meeting, so if you have any questions, now is the time to ask them for purposes of transition. No? Okay. Then we can go ahead and end the meeting. The rest of us will talk next week.”

Thankfully, one of the vendor representatives inadvertently shamed my boss by interjecting and saying how very nice it’s been to work with me for the past two years and that he wishes me all the best. The vendor initiated this comment. Not my boss. Not even one of my teammates. A vendor who lives in Germany and just dials in to the meeting, who had no responsibility to step into this leadership role and bid me a fond farewell – he was the one who did what my own boss could not. I wasn’t expecting my boss to take me out to a goodbye lunch or goodbye coffee (in fact, I preferred that she didn’t), but I did think my boss would at least give lip service to her managerial responsibilities.

On Wednesday mornings, we have another team call, but this one is purely internal with no vendors admitted. Thinking she may have learned from the way the vendor shamed her in the Tuesday call, I figured my boss may at least thank me for my service during this gathering of just our four immediate teammates. No. She didn’t. And I realized that, in order to be shamed by the vendor’s behavior, she would have had to be socially adept enough to realize that there was shame to be had.

Fortunately, some of my other coworkers are thoughtful and clued in to the social niceties of fond farewells. However, though most of my coworkers are friendlier and more attentive than my boss, several of them struggled a bit with the whole social intelligence thing, too.

A surprising number of my colleagues who normally have no trouble booking meetings and conference calls seemed to suddenly forget that we have visibility to each other’s Outlook calendars. Conversations like this one happened an unfathomable number of times:

Chat

I appreciated that my colleagues wanted to meet up for one last coffee, and I know they were probably just being informal and talking out the scheduling rather than looking at my Outlook calendar to book a formal meeting, but the number of times I had this same kind of conversation made me wish people would just check my calendar so I didn’t have to tell eight different people per day that I was out of office Wednesday, already had lunch plans Monday, was in back-to-back meetings Tuesday morning but was free at time X, Y or Z.

But the catch up coffees and lunches were nice. And in just a few days now, I’m about to be really free – with no Outlook calendar or vendor meetings or team meetings or anything. I can’t wait!

Authentically Aurora

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9 thoughts on “Termination for Cause (Part 3)

  1. I’m glad the vendor said some kind things. I’m not surprised your manager missed the boat.
    Forty or fifty years ago, someone named Laurence Peter wrote a book called The Peter Principle, describing what was wrong (and evidently still is) with American business. The premise was that, in a typical American business, people who do well in their job are rewarded with a promotion to a higher position. This continues to happen until they reach a job they can’t handle. At that point, where they are incompetent, there are no more rewards, no more promotions. The result is that most businesses are rife with people stuck in jobs they cannot handle. I don’t have enough information to know what your manager did well in her previous position, but I sense that she is probably stuck in her current position, and miserable to boot. Good for you to escape this type of company. (Sorry that you’ve been stuck there eight years, but in the future you will probably look back and realize what you learned from it all.) J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES! This is exactly what I see around me – although, from my perspective, almost every single person who has been promoted to a “job they can’t handle” is someone who would be a brilliant subject matter expert and individual contributor but was promoted to a management role, despite the fact that they have absolutely no leadership skills, no emotional intelligence and a complete inability to manage people well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is something to be said for the idea that people need to know what they company is doing from the inside before they become managers. But skill in management is vital also, as you have perceived. Perhaps every seven years a large company should shut down for a month and assess its structure and personnel, putting workers where they are best suited without regard for promotions, demotions, rewards, or punishments. J.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I swear that lady is going out of her way to make you miserable from the time you started being under her management (management being a loose term) to the time you leave. Hopefully, she doesn’t get her claws in you after you leave. Ugghh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since I’m completely changing careers and industries, I can’t imagine she would be at all involved in my life after I leave the company. I didn’t include her name on any of my applications or list her as a reference anywhere; I always used my prior supervisor, who has agreed to be my reference going forward!

      Like

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