You’re Fired!

Mike Hyatt posted his lessons learned from being fired and asked what we’ve learned. I commented on his blog and thought I’d share.

So here’s my story and my lessons from being fired.

I worked for an outdoor advertising company, I was the first woman ever to work in the shop and some of the egotistical men thought I should be harassed. I stood my ground and proved myself as the master of billboard paste. 😉

I had just graduated high school and after a year of working and attending college, I felt the need to move on. About six months later the shop foreman called me to offer my job back plus a sizable raise. I accepted. This actually happened three more times. I was making more than anyone had ever made in that position and had restructured the process so that efficiency and output were at an all-time high.

The corporate office restructured management , my boss was demoted and they brought in a man with twenty years experience at the steel mill–to run a billboard shop? It didn’t make sense to anyone. They asked me to train him. I asked for a raise. They declined.

I told the Executive Supervisor the new shop foreman could watch and take notes, but without a raise I wouldn’t formally train him, they should find someone qualified to fulfill that need. They fired me.

I packed up my files and went home. If I remember correctly, it was about a year later they were acquired by another outdoor advertising company and the Executive Supervisor and the new shop foreman lost their jobs. I got a call to come back to work. I declined.

I was young, so my actions might not have been the best choices, looking back though, I learned that if you allow people to walk on you and take advantage of you, they will. I wouldn’t stand for it from the guys in the shop and I wouldn’t stand for it from the supervisors. Yes, I lost my job, but I gained the respect of everyone else working there and became rather infamous. This all happened over a decade ago and I still get calls from new shop foremans making pretty decent offers.

The most important thing I learned, though, is that a formal education doesn’t teach you how to deal with people.

As low man on the totem pole, when you approach someone in upper level management with respect and honesty, you’ll find the depth of their character and integrity simply by the value they place on you. I’ve found the greatest have walked a mile in your shoes and remember the feeling, therefore they treat you with respect and they’re more than willing to help you succeed. I’ve also learned that this type of person is rare, but a blessing when found.