A lot has happened to me since I left my first corporate job 6 months ago in January.
- I moved back to my hometown in New Jersey from Minnesota in February.
- I decided to take a chance moment to travel and surf the beaches in Central America in March and April.
- I redeveloped my projects and reconnected with fellow entrepreneurs in May, and went on a short journey in June to Portland, OR that solidified my desires to move to the West Coast.
Now that I’ve been working full blown on my projects …
Why the reflection on my first job, 6 months later in July?
While I was doing my usual browsing around in LinkedIn, I noticed that one of my connections that worked in the same company and same department team as I did, had recently left. That connection worked at the company the same exact amount of time (half a year), before having to leave.
Luckily, I didn’t even need to do any sort of prying of information, as this person was connected to some of my mutual connections at this company. I had briefly heard she was having similar troubles with team dynamics back in February. So when I saw that she was recently working at a new organization, I wasn’t surprised to know why.
Sometimes, you’ll never know the real reasons.
To this day, I’ll never know the real reason why my team manager let me go. The constant contradictory reviews, and inconsistent, ambiguous feedback … to the point of mental harassment is what confuses me.
From week to week, I’ll get typical feedback that I’m doing well and performing. But then every one month, there will be the out-of-the-blue moments where the review would cite that I wasn’t doing anything right.
Constructive criticism is great when there are examples to back them up, but when managers can’t really come up with one … and start ambiguously creating some (even ones that have been downright lies) … then that gets me thinking.
And when I say thinking … I did a lot of thinking.
To the point that each round of reviews that yielded the same ambiguous feedback, made me think … wow, I suck … and maybe there is something wrong about myself.
At first, I thought this was usually a routine way of managers to see if an employee can handle pressure mentally. I thought, Oh I’m working on the apparel division, must be the cut-throat environment.
But no matter how hard I tried to change myself to the ways my boss wanted me to be, I seemed to not satisfy the requirements of the so-called “ideal employee attributes” that they constantly threw at me during review times.
I knew in my gut that the end was near.
Strangely, when they let me go, they did so quickly … where I could leave and they’d still pay for several future weeks of salary without myself having to set foot into the office. I also didn’t need to pay back relocation funds.
That’s when I realized, if my performance really was as bad as they thought … why would they be paying me to leave? Shouldn’t they simply have fired me?
Those questions, I won’t know the answers to.
But what I do know, is that I wasn’t alone with the struggles with that specific team at that company … as the next person who took my spot had similar problems as I previously described in the beginning of my story.
Why now, do I decide to reflect on my first job?
For several reasons.
- Silence is NOT always golden. I remember first not knowing who to share my experience with within that company. I wasn’t sure who I could trust, or who else had experienced similar situations. I didn’t want to be that person that outwardly appeared to complain about my manager, or be taken as a whiner. When I finally was able to connect with people that also went through similar experiences, it was too late by then. If I could do it all over again, I wish I had spoken to someone else, instead of keeping the issue to myself.
- It’s not about you, it’s the company. Although each organization will have their talk about how they will help build your career and all the goodies that come along with it … in the end of the day, you’re just another pawn in the game of chess. From lower level positions to the upper management, shuffling in and out is constantly happening.
- Really takes a toll on your mind. You know your gut feeling when an office or team environment isn’t working out anymore. You try all different techniques and methods. You even try to reach out to other employees to seek advice on how to succeed and prevent common mistakes. But sometimes, you won’t know or understand exactly why you receive certain feedback. Some of it, will be ambiguous. Overtime, it can build up to feeling like its a mental mind-f***.
Now the convention in the career world is never to burn your bridges with anyone, for whatever reason including possible future opportunities. While I believe it’s great to always maintain connections, I personally won’t maintain those that I can’t trust.
Therefore, I’m going to be frank about my adjustment to the above phrase, which should be:
Don’t burn your bridges with anyone, but feel free to add a roadblock where needed.
I still keep in touch with fellow colleagues there, and glad to have had their support during the rough times I endured in those months.
Lastly, I’m amazed that I’ve kept my composure for the most part throughout this post … otherwise what I really wanted to say about my last experience is probably more likely along the lines of: go f*** off boss with your ego (and middle finger). Ah, feels good to let out some past built-up steam.
I’m glad to put a final closure to this past part of my life, and super stoked to continue to move forward on to my next journey! I hope to never encounter a cruel and power-tripping manager again in my life.
Have you had jobs where lack of trust and ambiguity with communication were a problem?
What keeps you moving forward in your life?
Stoked about this post?