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Liz Ryan Contributor

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. full bio →

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com

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Leadership 2,777 views

Are These Signs That I'm About To Get Fired?

Dear Liz,

I’ve been on my job for four months and it’s been a rocky start. I’m in a new position that they created because the company was having trouble getting its products delivered and installed to our customers, which are restaurants and coffee shops across the country.

Part of the problem is that I can’t get access to anybody I need to talk to. The company is growing fast but as so often happens they are spending way too much money right now and so everyone is freaking out.

None of the managers I met in my interviews four months ago have been able to spend more than a few minutes with me. It’s the kind of place where there are so many initiatives and projects going on that you can’t keep them straight, and everyone here is a stress case.

In my first week I laid out a 30-60-90 day plan for my manager and he loved it. He said “Next Next step is to get this plan in front of the executive team.” That was a red flag, because the plan is exactly what you’d expect the person in my position to propose.

Then, the management presentation never happened. My manager keeps making excuses. He himself has almost no time for me. What is the hesitation? I can dive into my plan by myself, but they want me to get every VP’s approval on it.

I don’t need a budget. I just need to get some time with these higher managers and my emails, calls and personal visits to their offices haven’t helped so far.

My manager is pretty juiceless. He doesn’t seem to want to impose on anybody’s time. I have some other things I’ve been doing to keep busy but my big agenda, to coordinate the shipment and installation of our products from locations around the country, is definitely stalled.

I am not sure where to turn next and I’ve been thinking about bailing on this job and starting over someplace else. Now, I’m starting to think I might get fired. I think they want to spend my salary on another salesperson, even though their  back-end processes here are a joke and the more sales they generate, the worse the bleeding becomes.

Well, that’s not my problem. Would you say these recent events are signals that I’m about to get canned?:

1. I was supposed to make a presentation to the semi-annual sales meeting in Chicago, and now my boss tells me to stay here instead. He didn’t give me a reason except that they’re trying to save the travel expenses. There’s one other guy who was supposed to go to Chicago and who isn’t going to go now, apart from me.

2. I still don’t have business cards after four months.

3. When I call our suppliers to talk with them about my project, they say “I haven’t heard from Lou about this.” Lou is our national VP of Sales. I met Lou at my job interview four months ago, and since then I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the guy. He’s always on the road. I must have left him ten voice mail messages and I’ve never had a reply.

4. They promised me when I started the job that my name, bio and photo would be on the company’s website under its Management Bios. I couldn’t care less, but they told me how important it was for our customers and other visitors to our website to know that they’d hired somebody to coordinate the shipments to our customers.

That has never happened. They’ve never even asked me for a bio. They have a photographer they use for company photos, and he’s been here once since I started, and they didn’t ask me to have him shoot my photo that day.

What’s your read, and what should I do?



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