Was fired last week-- did I try too hard?

Page 1 of 1 [ 12 posts ] 

KevLibraryGuy
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 3 Feb 2010
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 128
Location: Canada

18 Apr 2015, 6:10 pm

So, I was fired last week.

Back in January, I got what I felt was in many ways a dream job: a Sunday Supervisor contract position in a public library branch in a neighbouring township. I was elated, as this was the sort of job that I had been trying to get for 3 years. It felt like my efforts had finally paid off.

For the role, I had to supervise the library staff, ensure effective coordination of library services, and to answer customer queries and complaints. My manager told me that I should never isolate myself to a desk, and to manage by walking around. However, very soon I caught myself doing things wrong. I tried to be everywhere at once, and was too hands-on with customer issues and workplace tasks. All of the staff there were seasoned professionals, and so my extra involvement wasn't needed, but all the same, I found myself feeling anxious, and not wanting to be found wanting on the job. I was terrified of being seen as useless or unprofessional.

Halfway through, my manager held a meeting with me and informed me that I was being too hands-on, and to ramp it down several notches. I did just that, and soon found myself with very little to do each Sunday, as there were very little things that required my attention.

Then, finally, last week, I was informed that my contract had been terminated. Was I trying too hard? Or was I doing too little? I don't know myself, but all the same, it came as a horrible shock to me. It felt wonderful to be employed after three years, and to have it all ended just like that hurt like hell.



carthago
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 15 Nov 2013
Gender: Male
Posts: 140

18 Apr 2015, 7:08 pm

It's a tricky situation, being the new guy and have seasoned veterans under you. Perhaps there is something you could have done differently. Instead of walking around and being hands-on, taking charge, and being the kind of proactive boss that the title suggests, you could have been just as involved, but in a support/learning capacity. Let people do their jobs, but tell them that you'll stand in to assist and learn, since you are new to the job. Eventually you would have seen enough situations to take the most serious/highest priority situations, allowing your staff to carry on their more usual work. Just a thought.



MollyTroubletail
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Oct 2010
Age: 50
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,185
Location: Canada

18 Apr 2015, 7:14 pm

Hugs to you. Being fired is so dejecting especially if one loves the job. It's nothing to do with trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Managerial positions require more social finesse than technical finesse.



KevLibraryGuy
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 3 Feb 2010
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 128
Location: Canada

18 Apr 2015, 7:21 pm

MollyTroubletail wrote:
Hugs to you. Being fired is so dejecting especially if one loves the job. It's nothing to do with trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Managerial positions require more social finesse than technical finesse.


And I think that's what killed me. I had no idea what was the "right" level of supervision, or how really to deal with people who, by rights, should have been my peers.



[email protected]
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Mar 2015
Gender: Male
Posts: 709

18 Apr 2015, 7:25 pm

Honestly, I'm not sure it had anything to do with you. It sounds to me like they thought they had a need for a position that it turned out they didn't need after all. At the very least, they did a poor job of communicating exactly what they expected from you.

I had one job where the manager hiring me was going out of town on vacation to scout another job and didn't know whether he'd be coming back, so he didn't tell me the position might only be temporary. Just about the time I was getting familiar with the environment and routine he came back and let me go, because he decided not to take the gig in the other town. The only thing I did wrong was be naive enough to get used as a tool.

Then there are those unwinnable situations, where you're tasked with a specific goal, but not given the tools and resources you need to accomplish it. That usually turns out to be a manager covering their butt by creating a scapegoat. They know the project isn't going to work, they just need someone to blame their failure on.


_________________
"I don't mean to sound bitter, cynical or cruel - but I am, so that's how it comes out." - Bill Hicks


SocOfAutism
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 2 Mar 2015
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,538

20 Apr 2015, 2:14 pm

KevLibraryGuy wrote:
I had no idea what was the "right" level of supervision, or how really to deal with people who, by rights, should have been my peers.


I struggled with this problem when I was a manager. I have a motivational style of leadership and I'm always more concerned with people's wellbeing instead of the company's bottom line. My higher ups didn't care for my approach.

It just takes practice and it sounds like they didn't give you enough time to figure things out. I'm sure the company I used to work for would have gotten rid of me if they could.

The next time you work in a job like this, you could ask more questions about what is expected for your job role. If you get vague answers, ask more specific questions.



kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 64,672
Location: Queens, NYC

20 Apr 2015, 4:18 pm

Hey Kev,

Could you use them as a reference? Maybe have them tell future employers that you were laid off rather than fired? I know it sounds unrealistic--but I've heard it has been done by people who haven't "burned bridges" with the other company.

Maybe you've learned, in a way, from this job.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,260
Location: Houston, Texas

20 Apr 2015, 7:27 pm

SocOfAutism wrote:

I struggled with this problem when I was a manager. I have a motivational style of leadership and I'm always more concerned with people's wellbeing instead of the company's bottom line. My higher ups didn't care for my approach.

I have read that successful business units often need one boss of this type and one boss who is more task-oriented. For example, one can be the main manager and the other the assistant manager, and the team-builder could well be the main manager and the task-oriented the assistant, or vice versa.

The thing that sad, frustrating, ironic, crazy is that companies often preach, 'We believe in taking care of our people so that they can take care of our customers,' but they sure don't practice it!



LabPet
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 4 Jan 2007
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,824
Location: Canada

20 Apr 2015, 7:40 pm

So very sorry for your loss, and especially that it's effected your psyche so much. In actuality, I doubt you 'tried too hard', instead you may be up against authoritarian forces beyond what you knew. Some employers fire without giving much thought, or care, as to how it effects their employees. It might have been helpful had your employer been more forthcoming with expectations. With discretion, maybe you could ask your now former employer if they'll still give you a recommendation?

Like others have posted, just pick yourself up and keep moving on....you'll find better.


_________________
The ones who say “You can’t” and “You won’t” are probably the ones scared that you will. - Unknown


SocOfAutism
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 2 Mar 2015
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,538

21 Apr 2015, 1:45 pm

AardvarkGoodSwimmer wrote:
SocOfAutism wrote:

I struggled with this problem when I was a manager. I have a motivational style of leadership and I'm always more concerned with people's wellbeing instead of the company's bottom line. My higher ups didn't care for my approach.

I have read that successful business units often need one boss of this type and one boss who is more task-oriented. For example, one can be the main manager and the other the assistant manager, and the team-builder could well be the main manager and the task-oriented the assistant, or vice versa.

The thing that sad, frustrating, ironic, crazy is that companies often preach, 'We believe in taking care of our people so that they can take care of our customers,' but they sure don't practice it!


I had an co-worker who was an undisclosed aspie. He and I made friends toward the end of my career there and we had plans to create a usability department. We were going to pitch that he be the head of the department and I work under him. In retrospect, I don't think it would have ever happened, because it would have been much more efficient for the company. Non-profit companies sometimes create work and positions it doesn't need in order to justify paying the higher ups more.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,260
Location: Houston, Texas

22 Apr 2015, 3:30 pm

SocOfAutism wrote:
Non-profit companies sometimes create work and positions it doesn't need in order to justify paying the higher ups more.
Ah, yes, empire building to justify higher salaries.

There's a book which philosopher and animal rights (animal welfare) guy Peter Singer wrote about his friend called Ethics Into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement, which I think is just one of the best books about activism period. Henry didn't build an organization with by-laws and a board of directors. Instead, he did activism from his kitchen table. He was a seasoned activist, including some time in the Socialist Workers' Party with a former girlfriend. He seemed to have a good feel for what projects were winnable and would also help push the ball forward. But even very commonsensical reforms about the way animals were treated took like a year and a half of pretty solid, steady work to bring about. For example around 1975(?), Henry got a small group of activists to protest New York's American Museum of Natural History use of experiments where they damaged part of a cat's brain and then observed mating behavior. These experiments were published in journals, but they weren't referred to by very many other published papers, and that's a key part. And the experiments were paid for by taxpayer dollars, and that was another key part. So, Henry's group had people picketing with signs and one clever thing they did was this: the museum at that time asked people visiting to drop a donation in some plexiglass square. And Henry realized people would be driving into the city, often with their children, and asking them not to visit the museum would be asking a lot. Instead, he asked them to make a donation of one penny. The museum later changed their admission/donation approach, and presumably Henry shifted strategies in response. And also, sometimes there was more protestors, sometimes there were fewer. But the importance of having at least some protestors there most weekends. And Henry appealed to a number of politicians to end this poor expenditure of taxpayer money. And Ed Koch, who would later become mayor of New York and was then a Congressman, spoke about this from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Even with all this going in their favor, it took a little bit longer than a year and a half. It can take a lot of patient work to get things done.

I hope Henry tried to listen to other protestors and run his organization in a non-authoritarian way even though he was the leader. I don't know.

I have spoken out as a citizen against war. I mean, I protested the build-up to and war itself of first Desert Shield and then Desert Storm back in 1990-91. This was the first Gulf War. And believe me, I'm quite aware that it was a popular war. It was hard, difficult, at times scary work. Try and stay within your comfort zone, maybe a little bit beyond. Try to be backed up by other people, and also you back up some other people if possible. And try to stay in a group and stay safe at the end of a protest. Going back to the cars from the protest site. Nothing happened, but it could have. And I've heard about some bad stuff from other protests.

I would love for us to have our own Aspergers-Autism Spectrum Networking and Resource groups. For example, I'd love for a group to help me get a halfway decent job. And I don't mean preaching at me from the sidelines. I mean helping out with much of the legwork. And I in turn would try and help out other people. There's also the deal where it's very hard for a musician or writer to sell their own work. It's much easier emotionally for an agent or manager to do this. Well, we on the Spectrum often take things rather seriously and can take things hard. Of course I do. My work is personal to me. So, I think it's a good strategy to have someone look for the job for you. And executives do this when they hire a search firm and all this. (and in a negotiation often the party who cares more loses, and all that standard stuff. But some of this, not all of it, can be anticipated and better decisions made earlier.)

One more example about nonprofits. In the very long --- and excellent --- documentary entitled A Kalahari Family, this farmer needs rocks and cement to protect his windmill and irrigation system from the elephants. Now, he's not going to shoot the elephants. But they are leaning and pressing against his equipment in an attempt to get to water, and he wants to protect his equipment. It doesn't seem like it's too much to ask. I think the nonprofit should have found a way of getting this man the rocks and cement he requested. Instead, after several months of meetings(!), they got him railroad ties and thick cables which did not really work. So, they're great at publishing reports, but they're not very good at delivering practical help. And maybe they think of all these meetings as partnering with the man, but it sounds like they ended up second-guessing him. And rocks and cement could be viewed as a nice cheap early experiment, much cheaper than all these meetings! In addition, the nonprofit agency had this idea that since most of the Kalahari persons were then only one generation removed from being hunter-gatherers, they would make great ecotourists. A beautiful idea, except . . . most of the Kalahari persons had already said no thank you, they were interested in being farmers. But it's like the agency could not hear this and thought the dialogue was still ongoing. They should have helped them succeed as farmers which is what the people themselves wanted, and maybe as a secondary effort keep multipaths open, something like this.

Don't mean to write a book, but this is something which really interests me! :D



aspinnaker
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 14 Feb 2013
Gender: Male
Posts: 41

01 May 2015, 5:17 pm

Sorry to hear about this.

You may need to provide a little bit more detail into some situations and how you dealt with them. But I'll take a crack based off the info that you've given, and if I'm off track at any point you can let me know.

To manage, you need to provide either "direction" or "support" in varying amounts to your subordinates, and the amount that you provide depends on the skill and experience level of that subordinate for the specific task.

Direction = "this is how you do this" or "these are your top priorities" or you personally dealing with specific tasks that your subordinates are meant to handle if they aren't sure how to
Support = "is there anything I can do to help you do your job better?" or just listening to your subordinates and providing them with guidance and emotional support

So, this is from the situational leadership model:

1. For very subordinates who are very new to a task, you provide them with mostly direction (+ a little bit of support)
2. For subordinates who have a bit of experience you provide them with large amounts of support & direction
3. For subordinates who have quite a bit of experience, you provide them with mostly support
4. For subordinates who are confident enough to be independent, and are of very high skill, you only give very small amounts of direction or support

From your story, it sounds like your subordinates were stage 3. I'm thinking its not likely to be 4, otherwise one of them would be a supervisor or they are self sufficient enough to deal without a manager.

In any case, from your story, I'm guessing your leadership style moved from 1 (in the beginning) to 4 (at the end), when the optimal level would be 3. So firstly, you may have just been giving straight directions (being too hands on), when your staff only needed support - they would have been unhappy with the high direction-focused management style when they feel that they have been there for a while. Later, you probably dropped down the direction, but still gave no support, and therefore it may have seemed like you were not doing much.

So potentially, your actual role was just meant to involve maintaining strong relationships with the library staff, act as the point of escalation, and be the person that ensure everyone else performs to the best of their abilities. If this is true, I actually think your role is very difficult for an Aspie - its super relationship focused and probably involves alot of chit chat, and you have no specific tasks or duties where you can prove worth outside of developing relationships. Not to mention that you need to be an excellent listener and know what to say at the right time.