Friday, July 2, 2010

Don’t Burn You Bridges

burn I’ve been with the company I work for over 10 years.  During this time, there were many people I worked with that came, went or even came back.   Many burnt their bridges.  I’d like to share two stories of two past employees this mistake came back to haunt them. 

How They Burnt their Bridges

Past Employee #1

There was a period of huge growth. Within 18 months, I was promoted twice in 18 months.  There was one assistant who kept getting passed over.  He didn’t have the experience or skill set but he felt he was ‘entitled’ as next in line.  After the 3rd or 4th newer employee got promoted over him, he found another job and left with no notice.  My manager at the time was in a meeting so he submitted his resignation to the CEO and simply left the same day. 

Past Employee #2

We hired one employee who had no idea of personal space and struggling to meet his job demands.  He took offense when I brought it up with our manager after ignoring my repeated requests not to take my hat and scarf off my desk and wear them.  The combine stress of not fitting in and job pressure was too much but didn’t relay this to our manager.  Within 6 weeks of his 3 month contract, he found another job and gave us 2 weeks notice.  My company decided not to enforce the contract.

In both cases, we were left in a lurch and the workload of course got dumped on the rest of us. 

How the Burnt Bridge came back to haunt them

Since we just went through (or still going through in some industries) the worse economic downturn since the depression, many of us were let go and looking for job.

Past Employee #1

This happened 10 years ago.  Last year he called to find out who was still here.  He wanted to apply for an open position in the same department and ask not to divulge how he left. 

I am one of two who were here during that incident.  I professionally told him I won’t put my reputation on the line and was better not to use me as a reference.  Even with this hint, he asked me to personally forward his resume directly to my manager and bypass our HR.   So I did with a note to check to look up his past records and talk to me . 

My input put him on the do not interview list.  This employee was never aware that he lost this opportunity.  The cheeky part?  He contacted me again in 6 months to apply for another open position.

Past Employee #2

For about one year or so he put myself, my manager and various ex-team mates as his references.  He even used high level managers who never worked with him.   We were shocked, he never asked us to be a reference!  One high level managers just forwarded the calls to me since I actually worked with the guy.  We just stated the facts: he was hired on a 3 month contract and he violated that contract.  From the industry grapevine, he was immediately removed as a candidate.  Since this happened over such a long period, we think he never found work for that year.

Moral of these stories

Obviously, don’t burn your bridges!

I remember in school people used to say that it was illegal for people to give you a bad reference as it can be considered libel.  Maybe my old peers thought this way.  It’s not libel when you only disclose the facts.  These events were documented on their employee records. 

Not every workplace will be the right one for you.  I enjoy working here but I’m aware it’s not for everyone.  If you are unhappy, go ahead and look for something new.  Just make a gracious exit.

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