E6S-027Special - I got fired 8D - Part 2

Intro:  Welcome to the E6S-Methods podcast with Jacob and Aaron.  Your source for expert advice on Lean, Six Sigma, and performance improvement methods. In this episode number 27-Special, I relate my experience in dealing with the initial shocks of losing my job describe how the 8D methodology can be used to get out of it. 

Situation Review: I was let go of my job in April 2014. Despite expert advice I had less than 3 months of income saved for such an emergency (rather than the recommended 6 months). There was no severance package or payout of unused vacation.  Unemployment benefits pay out for a maximum of 6 months and are only 42% of the initial income. In addition, my wife was unemployed and attending college full-time.  We have 3 children and live in CT, where the cost of living is very high.  If we do nothing, we will be out of cash in about 5 months, at which point we would need to decide which assets to cash out.  

Disclaimer: Whining alert.  Contained within this analysis is conjecture, self-reflection, and opinion based on actual events, and may be misconstrued as the whinings of a victim or disgruntled worker.  These opinions are my own, and I recognize that there are three sides to every argument, (my side, their side, and the truth somewhere in-between.).  I made every effort for balanced reflection to uncover opportunities for improvement. If my previous employer would like to voice their own side of this situation, they are welcome to create their own podcast..... These whinings contain lessons that may be of value to listeners who my find themselves in similar situations.


D4: Determine, Identify, and Verify Root Causes and Escape Points:

 3-legged 5-why

Escape Cause:

Bottom Line: I was kept out of the loop, and I ignored the signs of trouble, and underestimated the true threat level

1)      Why did I not detect getting fired, before the fact? -Because I did not engage in office politics –AND- I was systematically excluded from management meetings and discussions.

2)      Why? – Because I focused on the objectives of the role, per instructions and my altruistic nature, which allowed a major internal stakeholder to gain political momentum against my methods and to retake her old job (which was mine) –AND- I was kept uninformed of any issues anyone had with my work.


System Cause:

Bottom Line: This company was immature with policies and systems, and held nothing as a standard.  All decisions came straight from the top, and trumped any other strategies.

1)      Why did the system allow me to get fired without detection? – Because there were no formal HR/management reviews, feedback or communication processes – AND- Management team meetings were consistently cancelled (or managers wouldn’t show) without notice

2)      Why? Because human factors (other than bare minimum for legal compliance) was a low priority –AND- the management team was immature/undeveloped. Opportunities to develop were lower priority to the whims of the day or the owner.

3)      Why? Because that’s how they always did it to bring the company from $0 to $12M in 10 years. That is their benchmark for success


Root Cause:

Bottom Line: We were a bad fit from the beginning.  My reasons for taking the job were too heavily biased by half-truths during the interview process, an overwhelming desire to simplify my life, and a desire to learn the “secret” of entrepreneurship.  The company had an anti-customer culture and showed all the classic symptoms of so many companies who plateau and fail to sustain and real change. Upon recognizing this, I put minimal effort into pushing for change, and went with the flow. All rolled up, seniority and “the old way” ruled.

1)      Why did I get fired? – Because I was a poor fit for the company.  What I wanted and what they wanted did not mesh.

2)      Why?  - Because what they said they wanted and what they actually seemed to want were two different things – They hired me at a premium price-tag (by their standard) as a Quality Manager but used me to fight fires, Junior Engineering level work. They had no process or quality engineers.

3)      Why? During the hiring process, both parties thought they were “buying” something different.  I thought I was buying the opportunity to learn from a genius entrepreneur who grew a business from nothing.  They thought they were buying a “magic bullet” to transform the company overnight, without making fundamental changes.   – AND- the revenue fell by 30% immediately after my hire, and hung there for many months, due to previous practices of customer abuse.

4)      Why? Once I could tell true transformation was not possible I opted not to sink my effort into changing the points of views of the owner and other team members.

5)      Why? In 10 years they chewed through 6 other quality managers.  They attempted and failed, and bailed out of 10+ attempts at kaizen or visual work place, but kept the same managers in charge.  No regular consistent all-hands communications to the operators. No communication among managers, and finally, after the management team and the owner bought off on my plan, it still remained “MY PLAN” and when I requested feedback and ideas I got none, but when I presented my own ideas, I was vetoed.  I was not part of a team.  I was the low-ranking member of the veto-committee. 

D5: Choose and Verify Permanent Corrections (PCs) for Problem/Non Conformity:

Corrective Actions:

·         Improve my political savvy and immunity against sabotage

o       Revisit Organizational Savvy self-assessment www.survivalofthesavvy.com

o       Apply lucid stakeholder analysis to my career

·         Trust my gut better early on

o       Don’t ignore obvious signs of dysfunction

o       Take quicker action when I see something out of whack

D6: Implement and Validate Corrective Actions:

·         Organizational Savvy score improved from 2.8 (vulnerable) to 3.2 (capable)

o       Additional gaps to revisit

§         Self-promotion

§         Ethical Lobbying

§         Handles Sabotage

D7: Take Preventive Measures:

·         Improved job opportunity selection criteria

o       Mitigate biases,

o        find better long-term company culture health indicators

o       Take heed to glass-door comments and other company research

D8: Congratulate Your Team:

·         Dinner with the wife!

Recap on Lessons Learned:

·         Actively understand stakeholders and office politics

·         If a company’s culture conflicts with your core beliefs and robs you of your integrity and ethics, and you don’t have the power to change it, get out.

·         Try to recognize your biases when you’re comparing opportunities.  Know what is driving you.  An in-depth analysis is only as good as the data or assumptions made.


And the good news:  Yes, I got a new job, and didn’t have to sell my house. After 2 months of looking, I moved from a $12M company that sapped my soul to a Fortune 500 Company that embraced a Customer First pillar of excellence.


Outro: Thanks for listening to this Special episode. We will continue with the conclusion of the 8D, determining root causes and corrective actions, in couple weeks.  For next week, we’ll return to our regular program plan.  Thanks for listening.