Tailoring the Big Alarms
My friend was just fired from her job and called me immediately. We used to work together and she left that position because her direct supervisor was a bully. There were legal courses of action that she could have taken but was in no condition to. I did my best, at the time, to protect her. I knew we just needed to keep her employed until she could find another job. She eventually did and it seemed like a very good opportunity … except it wasn’t.
She was expected to perform a job that she wasn’t hired to do. In fact, she never got to do the job she was hired for. The people she worked with were generally unpleasant and dumped project after project in her lap. She asked for training and she got none. She asked for the job she was hired to do and she got a cryptic response that led nowhere. So, she went to HR to express her dissatisfaction only to receive her walking papers today. Her direct supervisor told her that she didn’t appreciate being thrown under the bus. She got fired for going to HR but she doesn’t have a leg to stand on in proving it for several reasons.
The thing is, I wouldn’t have played my cards that way and I could have told her that her actions would result in this outcome. She had been there less than a year and it wasn’t going to work out in her favour. I would have fought until the bitter end for the old job because in my opinion it made sense and it would have felt to me like the principled thing to do … fight the bully. She was there for 12 years and the old boss, which was a relatively new employee, was breaching Bill 168 and despite only bullying my friend, had angered several of her own employees. I would have just looked for another opportunity if I was dissatisfied at the new workplace. It would be a losing battle over something I hadn’t invested enough of myself to care and they didn’t actually do anything that could be classified as bullying, or as constructive dismissal with the existing reorganizational changes occurring at her latest workplace.
The thing is … I know her. I know her and she was going to do what she was going to do. They wanted to give her two weeks but she wasn’t thinking clearly so I advised her to speak to a lawyer because she’s entitled to more. It was a termination without cause.
I’m big on strategy and despite being passionate in nature, when it comes to business and politics I generally look ahead to how things are going to land after considering the options. Not everyone is like that. My friend is an incredibly hardworking person with a lot of integrity and that’s something I really respect. Unfortunately, she’s impulsive in these situations. We can all be but it’s her MO. I’ve taken a stand when things go against my moral fibre … but with a clear head and understanding that it could mean a pink slip for me. I believe she thought this would work itself out in her favour.
We’re two very different people and what I’ve come to realize is that it serves no purpose to ask someone to be something they aren’t. Sometimes advice is welcome and sometimes it isn’t … sometimes it’s actually just absolutely pointless. One has to be cognizant of the fact that people are all different and where some want brutally honest advice, others just want someone to be there when things fall apart. It’s wasted energy to approach all friends in exactly the same way because it won’t satisfy or support them, and it also robs us of the opportunity to make the situation about the person in need instead of how we would deal with a matter.
So, I gave her a pep talk, the name of an acquaintance in the placement field in Toronto and told her that she was going to get emotional when she gets off the phone but that by getting the ball rolling she’ll be a heck of a lot more hopeful. I reminded her that movement is survival and she’s a survivor. These were things I knew she could hear … but I couldn’t have stopped her from being let go.
Sometimes we see some real alarms and if it means being blunt to keep our friends safe … that’s what we do. Often, though, the best thing we can do is tailor our support style so it truly comforts our friends … and that may mean waiting until we’re needed. We can’t always fix things but we can be ther to help clean up the wreckage and slap on the bandages. It’s the decent thing to do.