Killing My Career…with Witnesses
“I wrote the Book”, by Beth Ditto is what I listened to, a lot during this time. Sometimes the words fit what I’m going through and sometimes, it’s not quite as literal.
Subtlety is not really a specialty of mine. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone, when lighting the fuse to the bomb, which was my successful career, it was lit, in a room full of people. If you’re going to kill your career, kill with witnesses.
I realized, as my mother often said, ‘same circus, different ring,’ wasn’t just a cute saying, it was my reality. I mentioned in a previous post being put on PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) at 93% to quota, which would be like getting kicked out of college for too low of an A. I’ve been told, by an HR Executive, if a company wants to get rid of you, they can, and will. I foolishly thought that working for a startup would be different. It was worse since there is a widely held belief they are less regulated by the government since they are smaller.
The easiest way to do so is put an employee on PIP, whether justified or not. PIP, which may have started out as a constructive tool, all too quickly became a destructive tool, in the hands of middle managers using it as a weapon for retaliation. Managers, under the corrupt monarchy, management style of ‘do as I say (even if illegal and especially if it’s illegal), or it’s off with your head,’ do not want to be questioned, and if they are, the employee is labeled as difficult, and eventually removed. During my career, one manager said that I made him look like an ‘asshole,’ trust when I tell you, he did an excellent job of that, all on his own. It probably wasn’t in my best interest to also tell him that, but, well, again, my mouth usually engages before my brain, and is when I usually do my best work.
The PIP, is structured in a way that creates hopeless in the employee, because the tasks asked, in order to keep their job, are all but impossible to overcome. Job loss is eminent. That hopelessness is what the Company counts on, and that the employee will quietly leave before getting fired. I know it goes against what we are taught; but, do not let a Company off that easily, and make them fire you.
As, I mentioned previously, I got off of PIP that time, mainly in part, because of a new product that our Company was releasing. Desperate to keep my high paying job, and having tried the HR avenue unsuccessfully; I was not willing to accept being fired for being 93% to quota, (I would not give anyone the satisfaction), and, I did whatever was necessary to keep my job. Even if it meant, doing the first surgical procedure on the moon (and my PIP was far off from that), or championing the new product, designed to be used one way, and being instructed by the Company to sell it another , which in the industry is known as ‘off label.’
I cannot ask others to take accountability, without first doing so myself. I would like to say six years out from this incident, that there’s clarity or a right answer, but I’m not sure that’s the case. When I think about what I could or should have done differently, I am left with only one answer, I should have quit.
I was not raised to quit, especially when I wasn’t in the wrong. I am a fighter. When I was eighteen, I was having crushing chest pains, and was taken to seven different doctors , some of whom charted I was a hypochondriac , only to find that I actually had a tumor on my heart. If I had just accepted what seven other physicians had told me, when they handed me a 64 pack of Crayola’s and told me to color a picture of Jesus, (See earlier blog Jesus and His 64 Pointy Disciples,) I wouldn’t be alive today. It’s that type of determination to right injustices that has propelled me successfully through my life.
Several years later, I once again found myself on PIP, but I was hopeful since the start-up I was working for had been purchased one of the largest Pharmaceutical/Medical Device Companies in the World. Again, going through the proper channels of HR, only to be disappointed (same circus different ring), I realized the end was near. Company-wide sales where dismal since the sale of the Company, where reps were unfairly blamed for a poorly designed Executive plan. One of my favorite quotes if from a friend who said it best, “Do they think the entire sales force just woke up one day and decided that we didn’t like money?”
While many reps were in lower standing then me, I was put on PIP at 43% to quota, and it still had nothing to do with numbers. Ironically, and to illustrate my point, one of the people administering my PIP, was later, that same day promoted to VP of Sales at just 46% to his quota. If we were going off of the standard school grading system, we were all getting F’s, and should have been kicked out of school. I can’t recall a time when anyone I know was promoted for receiving a failing grade; but, it does demonstrate the larger problem within an organization. More on that topic later.
- If a Company is willing to overlook or act dismissively towards EEOC charges, they are likely to be willing to engage in far greater illegal activity.
- When a Company, blames reps without taking any accountability, then you may be working for a corrupt monarchy that employs a sociopathic business model.
- Never sign anything you do not agree with (especially a PIP), even if the Company states the signature only denotes receiving and not acceptance (see earlier blog A 360 that makes Linda Blair’s Head in the Exorcist look like Child’s Play).
- Do not give a Company the satisfaction of running you off, that’s what they want. Stay, fight and get fired! The day I was fired, was, in hide sight the best day of my life.
- Do not let the Company off the hook. Document everything that was done illegally (preferably as it is happening). Note the times, dates, parties involved, and corresponding emails for each incident. If a Company isn’t doing anything wrong, then they have nothing to fear. Why do you think so many Companies now only allow email boxes to hold a small number of emails?
- If you’re going to kill your career, do it with witnesses. You can however, be more subtle than myself, and not use C-4; but, really, what’s the fun in that?