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Part I: I was let go unfairly. Should I tell Board Member?

Dear Office-Politics,

I have been working for four months as a database associate for a not for profit agency which is a social support community for those affected by cancer.

I cleaned up a mess left by a previous employee and was on top of my position delighting the CEO and Office Mgr.

Early on, I sensed some emotion from my OM. She was put on the spot in front of Board Members because of not running her reports to confirm information being entered into the database (my job and the employee before) was correct. She suggested I may want to do her job when she retires which was a little heavy for early on (it was my first week) in the position. I humbly told her I was flattered but didn’t think I had the experience to do her job. I said this as to not step on her toes and until this day I continuously rec’d compliments from everything from my outfits, to my looks, work performance you name it! I am a young woman with the looks of a model but am much more than skin deep and believe they started to think I was in the wrong place working in a social support community.

I believe my tact, professionalism, good looks, and efficiency made her uncomfortable. For months after, she consistently tried to ostracize me from the group, treating other members of the small office badly if they talked or acted friendly to me. They were all very intimidated by her.

I asked her a couple of weeks, prior to my dismissal, if I should be looking for another job because she was ostracizing me so badly and acting very cold.

She said it wasn’t her style to just leave me hanging not knowing my status and that I was OK. Weeks later she let me go stating that it would not be fair to me to have me in a position that didn’t fit me.

The biggest part and my question today is that I was very close to an important Board member. He and I worked very closely in my training early on. The Manager and CEO started to tell me not to call him or email him even though he was the person who created the database and would be my biggest resource to questions regarding the database.

I got suspicious but every time he was around he would tell me in front of all, to call him any time without hesitation. I believe they tried to limit my contact with him so I did not have him as my ally.

Bottom line, I think I was let go unfairly, and am thinking about letting him know the unfairness of how I was treated b/c in order to please my manager and CEO, I never told him of the contradictions in the messages I was receiving, i.e., manager and CEO telling me not to contact him and the member of the Board telling me to contact him anytime. Do you think he should know how I was strategically ostracized and the unfair treatment I believe I received? Could this make the Board aware of the culture in the office?

Please advise how I should handle this.

Thank you,

Miss Too-Good to Be Treated Bad

jennifer glueck bezoza

Dear Too Good to Be Treated Bad,

Your inquiry centers on whether you should connect with this important Board member and share your experience that you were unfairly let go, given mixed messages about your performance by the office manager and the CEO, and told to keep your distance with this particular Board member.

I would not suggest reaching out to this Board member specifically to explain how you were wronged and mistreated by the Office Manager and CEO. I personally don’t see how attacking others he works closely with and has had longer history with, would enhance his perception of you. Instead, I might suggest reaching out to this Board member to maintain the professional relationship and express your regret that your role did not work out with the agency. I also might suggest seeking this Board member’s understanding of what transpired with your particular role. You might express that you’d like to learn and grow, and avoid this type of outcome in the future and would welcome any feedback or input he has to share with you. You also could express your confusion about why you were let go, being that you were given such positive feedback about your performance and professionalism. I would be sure to take an open approach as opposed to an angry and defensive one.

While it may be the case that this Office Manager felt threatened by you and wanted you removed for that fact alone, it’s always wise, particularly when you are let go by an organization, to assume some personal responsibility in the situation and ask yourself how you might have contributed to the situation.

Furthermore, it sounds as if you are a very talented individual with a lot to offer an organization. You don’t mention whether you were particularly passionate about this job, but from your description of the role, I might infer it was not your life’s calling to be a database associate. Thus, I might advise taking the opportunity now to explore what kind of work you would be passionate about and what type of culture and organization would be a good personal fit. The fact that this particular role did not work out could be a blessing in disguise.

Thank you for writing Office Politics.

Best wishes to you.

Jennifer Glueck Bezoza, MA

Jennifer Glueck Bezoza has an MA in organizational psychology from Columbia University and a BA in psychology and humanities from Stanford University. She currently works in Organizational Development for the largest not-for-profit home health organization in the country where she focuses on succession planning, leadership development and coaching. Previously, she worked for GE Commercial Finance and HR consultant, Towers Perrin.

  1. 3 Answers to “Part I: I was let go unfairly. Should I tell Board Member?”

  2. Dear Miss Too-Good to Be Treated Bad,

    I am in exactly the same boat. My boss feels threatened by me as I am more educated and have a lot more experience than another individual I work with who it so happens is having the road paved for him by her. I was the last member to join this company. I started a management course as soon as I got in the door as this was my next step in career an I want to get it out of the way because of Kids etc. Anyway, my boss has been goading me for 2 years. It was last week I told her to be patient while I looked for something for her, but she kept goading me. In the end I turned round and told her if she carried on speaking to me the way she was she could do it herself. She stormed off down to HR. Head of HR is a good long time friend and has built up a number of people in the office who I thought were OK with me into calling me agressive and arrogant. In the two years I’ve been in the company noone has spoken to me about this (if it is true). Anyway, boss left offic and said she was going to get a first warning from HR. Spoke to HR and she advised me to leave the company (even though she got me on the mangement course – it may have been senior manager actually who signs it off).
    So, my father (Union Official) told me to say nothing to directors as they will only be looking after themselves….you are not their friend. Stick to the specific issue of why your boss stormed off. Do not get dragged into irrelevant issues in the past which is what they always try and do. I have a meeting Monday with Senior Manager and expect my first disciplinary. I cannot face the team members who said all these things about me – it’s going to be tough. I have to say the job is a doddle. In this area there are few job options so I would have to leave.

    Good Luck in your next job Miss Too-Good to Be Treated Bad

    N.B. Don’t ever suck up and maintain your integrity,common decency and dignity – that’s what I say. Money isn’t everything.

    By Mr possiblygonenextweek on Jul 21, 2007

  3. Well – had my meeting and shock of all shocks they terminated my employment with immediate affect. My Senior Manager said we were going to have a rough ride in the next hour discussing it. I was absolutely gobsmacked and felt that I have let my wife and kids down. I just told him I didn’t want to continue if he had made up his mind without hearing my side of the story. So I maintained my dignity, got up, shook his hand and said ‘Thank you very much’ and left the building (a bit like Elvis). Spoke to friends in Ireland (not where I’m living now by the way) and they all said ‘They can’t do that’ over a difference of opinion with your boss. As long as you were not rude. It’s going to tribunal anyways.

    By Mr possiblygonenextweek on Jul 24, 2007

  4. Our office is a typical case of mediocrity wins it seems! There is one mediocre (thats an overstatement!) but she goes to head office regularly and buys personal gifts for bosses. Pleased with her, the bosses listen to her gossip too. Having analyzed I know that my fault is that I do not call bosses regularly. If I do so, things won’t be so bad. But now that most relations are strained I wonder if it’s too late…

    By Sara on Jul 27, 2007

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