Q: I was recently fired for making too many mistakes. Although my manager followed the required disciplinary steps, I believe the entire process was flawed. In my opinion, I was targeted and treated unfairly.
Several months ago, I learned that my manager had directed a co-worker to review all my work. This person was not my supervisor and had no right to check on me. When I confronted my boss, she replied that an internal audit had shown I was making too many errors.
The mistakes my co-worker found were documented and used as evidence against me. I was given several warnings and eventually let go. When I complained to human resources and upper management, they supported my termination. How could I have kept my job in light of this unfair treatment?
A: Regarding performance issues, employees and managers often see things differently. What you view as “unfair treatment” your employer would undoubtedly describe as “preventing mistakes.”
Granted, your manager should have advised you that a colleague would be reviewing your work. Discovering this unexpectedly must have been embarrassing. However, the real issue is that you were making critical errors, so fixing that problem was the key to remaining employed.
When presented with a performance warning, most people react in the worst possible way. They argue, get defensive and insist their boss is wrong. But this automatic pushback, while understandable, only convinces management that the employee didn’t get the message and is therefore unlikely to change.
For job security, a better response is to acknowledge concerns, clarify expectations and request a time to assess progress. Employees who receive written warnings must also understand that HR and upper management will have already approved that step. Supervisors are seldom allowed to take disciplinary action independently.
For your own benefit, make an effort to detach from the past and start thinking about the future.
Q: I’m afraid the current political climate may interfere with my getting a job. After spending many years in government, I would like to find a position in the private sector. However, most of my experience has been partisan in nature, working either on national campaigns or in the White House many years ago.
Given the deep political divisions today, I worry that people with opposing views will automatically reject my résumé. What would you suggest?
A: Crafting a completely nonpartisan description of your background could render your résumé meaningless. However, emphasizing positions instead of politics might make it appear more neutral.
For example, if you list “communications director” with the White House as your employer, the dates will obviously reveal which party was in power.
But if you describe your responsibilities without using political terms, a prospective employer may disregard your party affiliation.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”