January 9th, 2006, I go into work knowing it was a special day. We had a board meeting early in the day, I think around 11am. The main topic at work had been finances, as the previous CEO (and 40% owner) had been spending more time with me. He had left the company a while back but I knew by his recent involvement, and trips to our parent company’s office about 3 hours away, that something was going on.
That morning he came into my office and shared with me that he was pretty sure I would be let go on the board call.
There was writing on the wall for a long time. Relationships had soured, which was probably the most painful thing of all. The owners wanted immediate changes, changes that I felt were not sustainable. Previous to the call I had been told I didn’t have enough gray hair (meaning, I wasn’t experienced enough), that all I did was think like an MBA (sorry for getting an MBA, at least you didn’t pay for it and I did it after work hours), and that I was not an entrepreneur (if I was, why did I have a job??).
Two of my key employees had recently resigned, which was really weird as I felt things were really turning around. But they knew better, and they both moved on to much better opportunities. I keep in touch with them regularly and am very happy to know where they ended up, and how happy they are.
It’s funny how myopic we can be about our current employer, thinking that we are safe and protected, and not realize how much greener the grass really is in other pastures.
It’s funny how we think we are being loyal to our employer, and that this is building up in some loyalty bank, and our loyalty investment will save our hide when others get the axe.
It’s funny how we can give 100% to our JOB, thinking that they will give 100% back to us, as employees. All the while we are neglecting our CAREER MANAGEMENT.
I realize what happened was a business decision. Sure, it was riddled with politics, stupid decisions, short-sightedness, etc. But I walked away from that job knowing that in the end, the numbers on the left side of the ledger had to match the numbers on the right side of the ledger, and senior management wanted that to have happened a year ago, and all of the problems from before I was general manager seemed to become my fault the day I became general manager.
For over a year I felt I had been given a big cow paddie and I was waiting for that special flower to pop up through the middle.
But my time ran out.
And I got the boot.
And I should be grateful – afterall, look at all the incredible stuff that has happened to me in the last two years! Look at all the amazing people I have met and touched! You can’t even imagine how you have impacted my life, and my family’s life.
But it still hurt, back then. And for some weird reason, as I write this, it still hurts now. Years and years of awesome relationships with coworkers – practically severed the day I was let go.
I didn’t do the infamous “walk of shame,” but I definitely felt like a leper. Eyes followed me as I tried to be in good spirits. Eyes that once were quick to look for me for lunch, or to talk about something important, now watched me in shame. And our relationships changed.
And that is probably what hurt the most.
Ultimately, I should be thankful that I was pushed out of that company, and that job. I had known for over a year it was time to look elsewhere, but I was too loyal to my team, and my company, and my customers, and the vision.
Look where it got me.
A couple of ending thoughts:
– I was not fired, just laid off. Although a 11 year old girl in church said “you were fired!” just a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t even know she knew my situation, obviously her parents did 🙂
– the level of stress I have now, as a business owner, is probably the same. But I consider it happy, or positive, stress. The stress when I was GM was the kind that put me in urgent care, wondering if I was having a heart attack (nope, it was just a pre-ulcer).
– my wife tells me I really need to get over this, and I know I do. But I don’t want to lose my passion for the message, the one about YOU caring more about your CAREER MANAGEMENT than you did yesterday. So I’ll hold on to a little bitterness, just to help me blog with passion – I hope you understand 😉 The truth is, I may “get over this” but I’ll never, ever forget what I went through.
Happy two year anniversary!