Q: I was hired at a large company through a department head and was never told to go through the formal hiring process, not even to fill out an application. My immediate supervisor had just been hired several weeks before me. When I started, no one introduced to me to anyone — not co-workers, colleagues, other supervisors or other department heads, so I started introducing myself to employees in my area. Several weeks later, human resources called me into their office to say they had complaints about me being overly friendly. I apologized and promised to keep a low profile.
My newly hired supervisor wanted me to work evening hours due to teleconferences that were to take place, so he would juggle my hours accordingly. I accommodated his need for continual changes without complaining. He also forgot nearly every assignment he gave to me. When I reminded him of each one, he would say he didn't recall and drop the subject.
After one month, I was let go due to poor performance, blamed for the erratic work hours, and given one month's severance pay. I was shocked. I had made two mistakes in that first month of employment, but during that time my supervisor told me I was doing "fine." I'm upset about being fired, especially due to the reasons given. How should I handle this?
A: Your hiring process was as unusual as your firing. Even though a department head recommends a job candidate, that person typically goes through the proper channels for applying, interviewing and receiving a formal job offer. Companies ask candidates to fill out applications, even if it's only a formality. Skipping the entire HR process leaves the new hire out of the information-seeking interviews that help both the company and the candidate find out about each other, the corporate culture, policies and procedures. Asking questions about a job, the people one would be working with, even the turnover rate can offer important information in deciding whether a job is worth taking.
It also sounds like you hadn't researched the company or connected with some of its employees through LinkedIn. Networking with employees could have offered insights into that corporate culture. And employees not connecting with you may have signaled all was not well from within. In the future, know that corporate culture is the most important aspect to research before accepting a job. While some companies are noted for their casual, friendly culture, others may follow a strict hierarchy-protocol or anti-social atmosphere that doesn't suit a person who wants to feel part of a community.
A separate problem may be that your supervisor, who was also a new employee, is uncomfortable with the open, honest performance conversations required for managers, which may be why he never introduced you to your colleagues (people who lack in communication and social skills should not be given supervisory positions, but this is not always followed). It was easier for him to tell you things were fine rather than to confront you. His forgetfulness could signal other serious problems, so perhaps your termination with a generous severance is the best thing that could have happened to you.
A one-month job does not go on a resume, so you needn't worry about it. If you feel better clearing your name and short record there, write a brief letter to your department head connection to express your appreciation and your regret for it not working out. He may be the only reason you received a severance check after only one-month of employment.
To know what to expect in proper job searches and positive hires, author Rosanne J. Thomas' "Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette" serves as a workplace bible for all workforce newcomers and those who have long since forgotten what demands to expect in proper job searches, interviews, and hiring processes. Thomas also covers how to adapt to the various workplace environments, from workdays spent in a cubicle to open offices to working on teams. From new employees to Baby Boomers, it is important to know what can be reasonable expected of an employer and what can be reasonably expected of employees. Knowledge helps one foresee into one's own work life and helps all avoid the situations that throw employees into shock and perhaps anger when presented.
Email your workplace questions to Life and Career Coach [email protected] For more information, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak