“You’re fired!” yells my director. “Pack up your things and don’t come in tomorrow” he continues. “HR will sort out….”
The room starts to spin. How did it come to this? I was the star employee at the company, outperforming all my peers two years in a row. I had excelled in every single performance review ever since I’d started working here five years ago. The long hours and unpaid overtime – all up in flames. Gone. I sacrificed everything to get to where I am today; well, where I was yesterday, before the disaster. I championed project “ickyweb”, which saw company productivity triple over the last two years. The board was so impressed that they promised to promote me in 18 months if I kept up with my performance. This would have made me the youngest staff member in the entire upper and senior management team… and yet here I am today.
“Are you even listening to me?” The director yells at me again. He slams his fist down on the desk… hard. “Do you have any idea how serious this is?” “You have just destroyed the entire…. shareholders are furious… lives may be at stake…” I tune out again. I can feel the warm knot in my stomach – the same feeling I had when I found out my SO of five years was cheating on me. I desperately hold on to the table to prevent myself from passing out. Trying to compose myself, I look at Matt – my manager. He gives a blank stare. How can he be so heartless?
What happened wasn’t even my fault. I was merely following orders. For months I have protested against the decisions made by upper management. I have repeatedly warned Matt of the potential consequences of their actions. He reassured me that everything would be fine. I can’t believe he is throwing me under the bus now that everything has gone south. Alas, IT (applications) falls under my responsibility and management wouldn’t have it any other way. They won’t admit what had happened as poor judgement on their behalf. They ignored all my warnings and opted to take huge unnecessary risks to reap short term profits. Now they are just looking for a scapegoat – someone to blame. I happened to be the perfect target.
When you rise up to the top too quickly, you tend to make enemies around the workplace. I ruffled too many feathers and now I’m paying the price for it. Project “ickyweb” was my baby. When it went live, “ickyweb” pretty much displaced the entire operations team. Even though nobody was made redundant, the board had to restructure the entire company. Steve, the senior manager who looked after operations was beside himself when he found out that the board was going to dismantle his entire team. Steve’s been in the company for 15 years. He grew operations from a group of 5 guys to a team of 63 employees. Quite an impressive feat – if I say so myself. Almost everyone in the company likes Steve. He is very kind and patient. He takes the time to listen to other people and he relates well to all the problems his staff present him with; work related or otherwise. Steve is a natural leader.
The company reassigned Steve to logistics when “ickyweb” went live. He is no longer the charismatic man he used to be. Steve pushed paper for about a year and half before opting for an early retirement. I felt sorry for Steve. Surely he saw the writing on the wall. It was only a matter of time before the company decided to replace operations with technology. If I hadn’t championed the move, someone else would have… sooner or later. It’s the only way to stay competitive.
Operations weren’t the only ones effected by “ickyweb”. Everyone in the company was. Some teams were split in two or moved onto different projects to accommodate the extra staff from operations. Team leaders and supervisors from various departments were also reshuffled. Several staff members were inevitably demoted, because their background and experience didn’t quite match the available positions. While it was the right move for the company, not many people were thrilled at how things turned out.
“Clear as mud?” the director yells. I nod. I wasn’t too sure what he just said, but I’m not going to ask him to repeat himself. “Now get the hell out of my office” he continues.
I open my mouth to say something – to defend myself – but no words come out. I am still stunned by what happened. I am angry that they blame me for it, especially after all the warnings I have given them. I have sacrificed a lot for the company and this is how they treat me.
Caroline approaches me as I walk out of the director’s office. She is the union representative assigned to my case. “I am sorry James. I know you have raised concerns about changing how ickyweb works, but this is way too big.” Great. Just great. What is the point of joining a union? I would’ve been better off spending my union member fees on booze.
“The Commerce Commission will be carrying out their own inquiry into the matter” Caroline continues. “They may decide if further action is required… we expect you to cooperate fully with them”. My anger quickly turns to concern. Why is the Commerce Commission involved in this? I thought the fallout was…
“Uh James?” Sarah from front desk interrupts. “There are two policemen here waiting to see you”.
**End of Chapter One**