Today I got taught a valuable lesson in being the pawn in someone else’s office politics. It cost them some dignity, and it cost me my job. I wanted to pen my thoughts down to get out some of my frustration, and hopefully teach the lesson to others at no cost.
I won’t name the business in this post becuase my friends will already know it, and a name is worth nothing to those that do not know me. What you should understand is that I was working for a College as an Adviser for students, I had a Team Leader above me, a National Manager above her, and a Campus Manager who did very much of nothing, yet it seems was a major player in what turned out to be an unfortunate saga for me.
I’m only 3 months into this role. To be exact, 2 months and 3 weeks- mere days under my 3-month probation period, and so highly fire-able, if you’re akin to that kind of activity. I suppose it starts with conversations that I had with my National Manager the very day I got hired.
She told me that she could tell from my interview that I was proactive, that I was going to be able to do exactly what she wanted. When I asked what that was, she said to shake things up. She said that the Campus I worked at was in a lull, and the campus and its staff needed someone to come in with fresh eyes, and see old things with a new perspective. That I was to offer up as much suggestion for change and improvement as I could. And so I did.
Weeks into my position my Team Leader had a glowing review for me, she constantly gave me feedback, telling me that had I not started working there, it was likely she was going to quit: she was over the College and the micro-management from above, and that she was ready to pack her backs. But not anymore, not now that I had arrived.
A few more weeks passed and my National Manager told me just how happy she was that I had started, and she had seen improvements from the people I worked with already. Keep doing whatever I’m doing. It was about this time that a few small altercations occurred with my campus manager. No disagreements, no arguments- me merely asking him whose responsibility a few certain tasks were, as I was doing them yet they were very clearly defined as his role. He started doing them from that day, but obviously was not too happy about it.
Time passed and two months came up. I had my one-on-one performance review with my National Manager, and she gave me 10/10. I couldn’t do better. I disclosed to her that I felt like I was stepping on toes, though, and what her advice was for me in that regard. This was the single time that I asked for some mentoring. The only time that I asked to be mentored in all this time. I figured why ask for it earlier, I’ve been told I’m doing exactly what I should be. My national manager’s reply? The same as always: Don’t worry about it, you’re doing exactly what I thought you would when I hired you. This is the exact reason I hired you, and you’re fitting into the role perfectly.
Here we are, though, only two weeks after that, and I get to work to see an email with a calendar invite asking me to a meeting to “discuss your probation”. Even this fool knows what that means, and so rather than wait for the afternoon event, I pop my head into the office of my National Manager and ask her for a minute. I explain that the email is fairly ominous and I would rather not sweat it out all day, and so we had a talk there and then: I would not be making it past my probation.
I asked her for some council as to why she spent nearly three months telling me I was doing a perfect job, why she offered absolutely no help and guidance to assist me in going past probation; and it seems that all along her intention was to use me to try and find out who in the company needed to be reviewed, and who was ok. She used me as a fox down a rabbit warren, for her own political gain within the company, at my own detriment.
Foolish, and now unemployed, I don’t know where I head from here, but it’s a lesson I learnt too late. Retrospectively I can pick some of the signs, the shifts in attitudes and the closed-door discussions happening over the last couple of weeks, but no company-rookie could’ve been that clued on so early. I lick my wounds and carry on.
Now, to find a job…