It seems like companies don't trust employees especially those leaving as much as in the past. Thanks to technology, it's too easy to reformat a hard drive to erase all the data, share proprietary information with outsiders and do other activities that scare the IT security department staff and lawyers who must comply with laws like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.
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True story: A consultant to a Fortune 500 company was the only one who knew how a small, but important, application worked. He was the developer, and no one else worked with him. He took advantage of this situation to force his company to give him a massive raise no exaggeration. He got away with this for a few months until he did something unethical, and the company fired him. He managed to lock up the application and other programs to make it difficult for another programmer to take them over.
Today, a company would take precautions and ensure the employee doesn't know he or she is being canned, then whisk the person away without having a chance to do damage. Not many employees we hope do this sort of thing, but companies can't be sure who can be trusted. So they're even starting to take resignations into their own hands for security's sake.
This doesn't give comfort to anyone, especially the good employee who gets walked off the company premises without warning after investing years of high-quality work in the company. We can't help feel poorly when it happens to us. You can try two things to help ease the pain:
Reconnect with the manager
Getting in touch with the manager is probably the more difficult of the two choices, but a conversation could clear the air. Graeme Phipps, managing director at CoAlignment Pty Ltd, makes an interesting point of view.
Strategies and Tactics to Grow
Tuesday, October 24 -
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Day One: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Day Two: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Chicago, Illinois
"Unfortunately, you are experiencing the classic symptoms of the victim/villain syndrome. The story you are harboring is that you are the victim, and your ex-manager is the villain. Because our feelings are generated from the stories we tell ourselves, you won't be able to change your feelings whilst you continue to hold this view. You say that you'd like to have a good recommendation from the manager if ever you need one. Obviously, it would be a good idea to approach him/her about this. However, before you do, you'll need to have a change of heart about the ill feelings you currently hold. To achieve this change of heart, you'll need to tell yourself a different story about the manager.
"My advice is view the manager in a positive light someone who is going to give you good references and assist you with the development of your new business. Make an appointment to go and see the manager, outlining that you wish to discuss the contribution you made during the five years you were at the company. Explain how you would like him/her to support you with references, should the need arise. Discuss how you might want to use this support and any process for advising him/her when you do so. If you have the meeting and it's positive, you'll probably find that you'll have forgotten your previous negative feelings.
"If you haven't, yet want to keep the good relationship, you could always raise the topic in a non-accusing way, saying something like, 'I'm curious to know why the company had to cut short my notice ...' On the other hand, if the manager refuses to help, my recommendation is that you approach his/her boss and ask for the same assistance, letting the boss know you have previously approached the manager who has refused to help. Using the same process as above, you could raise the topic with the boss, should the need arise."
Because time has passed since the employee's departure, you may want to ask the manager about what motivated the actions behind the whole situation, says Ron Cascella, owner of Form One Apps. "If you feel that you were treated differently than most others who 'retired' from this company, then maybe you do have a legal case."
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Let it go
For some of us, letting go just doesn't work. We try not to think about a situation, but because it was painful it sticks with us longer than we'd like. But longer does not mean forever. Tom Nosal, senior manager with Beyond Telecom, advises letting the matter drop.
"You decided to move on, so do just that. A lot of companies today will do just what yours did: let you go before your two weeks are up. They do this for many reasons, mostly to protect their property physical and intellectual.
"I would also suggest that anytime in the future that your paths cross with this company, you should keep up a friendly front. Like you say, you don't want to burn any bridges, and you never know when you might need them. That is how to maintain a sense of dignity.
"Complaining will do nothing more than label you as a complainer. Get deeply involved in your new business, and you'll soon forget all about the past. And as for your manager being disrespectful, let me just say that anyone can be a manager. Not everyone can act like an adult."
That's a perspective many of us may not think about when we're deep into a situation. One reader thinks the manager acted like a jerk, which can happen when managers respond negatively to losing an employee. These types of nasty experiences help us learn that people don't always act the way we expect or would like them to.
Another reader states our response to a situation could be one of three things: "I don't like it, and I'm not going to take it; I don't like it, but I'll live with it; or, this is good, and I accept it. The third response is the most positive and has helped me deal with things. It may not be a natural response, but oftentimes we can learn from such a situation. In this case, you've learned how not to treat an employee. It also helps to remember that you're responsible for your actions, not the other person's."
Michael Desai, managing director at Aus1 Pty Ltd, can relate to the situation. He was leaving the company to start a business. On the last day, Desai told HR he would turn in company property at 10 a.m. The company paid him up to 10 a.m. "There are people in the world who are born 'low level' and live and boast about living that sort of life hardly any morals were taught in their lives. Fair enough 'What goes around, comes around' as the old adage says." The company he left lost 20 talented people in the next six months, along with two big customers.
We hope that looking at the situation from different perspectives helps ease the pain of a sudden dismissal that makes a solid employee who simply wants to leave feel like a fired one. If nothing else, take pride in keeping silent about the company and treating it with more respect than its managers did. For additional reading, here's an excellent article about "What is done is done."