So another person just got fired from my company. She was a marketing person. Truth be told, I never really understood what she did, and eventually she had to leave. Marketing people get told to leave fairly quickly. There was this guy who had been working in my company for 3 years, and he was there since before I joined, and he was also told to go, told to pack up and leave. Actually, not pack up and leave, since his table still had all his crap, and they had to remove it. (I called him P back then, so I’ll do that again.)
And when he was told to leave, that was partially because they hired someone they thought as being his replacement. Now, on the other hand, she was told to leave.
She had been given a few privileges from the get go. She had children to raise, and apparently she was able to work from home quite a bit. At the beginning, she seemed to herald a change in the way that my organization did marketing. She had conducted a session in which we asked ourselves, what does (company name) see itself as?
There were attempts to hire a “creative director”, and I don’t really know if they were successful. What I do know is that we hired two other people that had to do with marketing after this lady. One of them was a real graphic designer, who did posters and drawings, and tried to get the artistic side of our product. Another one tried to make our user interface look great, and our product has a very slick veneer, and the user documentations are done very well.
It’s not that our company does not care very much about coding and engineering – it does. And I think that our engineering team is doing OK. I wouldn’t say that we’re at the same level as Google or Facebook, but we have people who are solid and capable. And the two founders, the people who built this company from the ground up during the first 5 years of existence when it was still a start-up, they’re still around and are my bosses. So to a lesser or greater extent, they understand the process of coding.
But for some reason the latest hires are the business development, one or two sales people and some design people. I suppose if you want to hire engineers, you get them in early, because they’re going to take some time to get accustomed to your system, and they’re going to explore around your code base.
I suppose it’s always a little easier if you’re doing something technical, or you’re programming, and you’re contributing to the main product. The email that went around explaining her firing stated that she wasn’t a good fit for the organization. There was probably a shift in emphasis around the time when she was hired, and she did help bring people in and probably played some small role in revamping the sales and marketing side of things. But unfortunately for non-technical jobs, you’re always trying to justify what you can bring to the organization, and you are always trying to fit into the vision of the founders. When you’re in the technical side, they’ll tell you to do something, you do it.
If you looked more closely, there would be signs that she was on the way out. The shame was that she was instrumental in bringing in the people who would eventually replace her. For some reason, she was the person who wrote the introduction emails when a few of the newer people came in. She used to have a table that was near the founders’ table, but when the office expanded, her seat got moved. I don’t really know what’s going on. Maybe she accepted that because she was working from home. Maybe she understood that her time was up, and maybe she didn’t. If she did, then maybe she was just waiting for the severance package.
We just launched the latest release of our software, and I understood that if anybody was going to get fired, we would know pretty soon. During the celebration for the release, I was seated opposite her, and she didn’t seem to be too unduly worried, although there were some interesting questions: the company, which used to one where everybody knew each other, started organizing themselves into – well, if not cliques, then you could call them tribes. Why wasn’t she in her own tribe? And the other thing about her – I roughly knew about people and what they did. At the time when P was fired, he was the one guy for whom I was a little bit hazy about what he did. For everybody else, I could point to them and said “they did this” or “they did that”. It wasn’t like that for P, and it wasn’t like that for her.
So the email that was sent out after she got fired thanked her for her insights and knowledge, but also said that she wasn’t a good fit for the company. I don’t know about that. Perhaps they decided that she was just there to teach them one or two things about how a business was to be run, and then they decided they weren’t going to retain her. Perhaps she was just used up as a consultant. Perhaps, they felt, if she couldn’t contribute anything more concrete, as in put some actual work into the specifics of product development instead of talking around in generalities, she had to go. Perhaps the marketing job in my company is a revolving door, subject to the whims and fancies of the latest fashion. The first person to quit my company (and so far relatively few people have quit my company) was also the first employee, and she was a marketing person. Perhaps marketing people are always destined to not have job security.
Also the other thing is that terminations take place with such regularity - there's one every year - that sometimes I wonder if that was the plan, where the founders would pick out one guy every year and tell him or her to leave.
NB: I got linked by Daily SG and while I write about Singapore from time to time I am now in the USA and this blog post is about something that happened in the USA.