Red Flags and Turd Sandwiches: A Friend’s Story of Misery

by Rich DeMatteo on February 7, 2012 · 12 comments

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A friend of mine recently went through a real turd sandwich of a situation.  She went from having a job she imagined would be incredible for her short and long-term career, to being fired and becoming the scapegoat for something that wasn’t the slightest bit her fault!
I’m going to present this story through “red flags”.  There are a number of them, and that’s where I want to focus the attention for this particular story.

Red Flags

  • On the interview, her soon to be boss used words like “C*nt”, “F*ck”, and “S*it”.
  • Her boss was recently moved into management and had still been in training.
  • After they sent an offer letter, they then decided to let her know she would need to be buying suits and wearing them daily.  They did mention she’d get a suit allowance, but they should have made that clear from the beginning of the interview process.
  • The person who was supposed to train my friend was too busy to do so and kept putting it off.

What Happened?

Because of the lack of training, she wasn’t aware of the fine details needed to perform the job.  She grew frustrated, which then caught the attention of team members.  With her supervisor being so new to the job, the situation spun out of control.  When my friend eventually made a mistake that was a result of not being trained, her boss’ supervisor decided to make the decision to terminate her.

You can bet your sweet bottom that my pal’s supervisor decided not to mention the lack of formal training.  Sure, this may have saved her job, but until they commit to formal training and a solid orientation process for new employees, history will repeat.

Be Aware and Act on Red Flags

When my friend wrote out her story, she made it clear that she wished she paid attention to her gut feeling and passed on the job due to the red flags.  When a possible red flag pops up, there are questions you may want to ask:

  • How long have you been a supervisor for this role?
  • What would you say your management style is?
  • Who will be training me and how long will it be before I’m fully trained?
  • Is there  anything I need to know outside of training to be successful?
  • What is expected of me in the first 30 days?
  • What are some areas that might make this job difficult for me without training?
  • Why is this position open?  Where did the previous person in this role move on to?
While these questions are important, don’t let their answers steer you away from your gut feeling after discovering red flags.  Another job will come along, but a situation like the one above will simply waste your time and leave you even more frustrated.
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10 comments
Joni
Joni

I too have had many of these experiences over the years, and the most recent was a real 'turd sandwich' -- as you would say. I was hired by a manager who worked in an office over 200 miles away from where I was hired (headquarters). I received regular training via phone and all was well for 2 months before he quit for a better job. The company hired someone new at a VP level nearly one year later. He was an ADHD type (self admittedly) and we got along OK but he gave no real guidance and travelled many months of th year. So he hired a manager to work with me. There is where the problems began and after a long story and another year (3 in total with the company) I was fired. In retrospect, I should have left after this last manager was appointed because looking at Rich's list of Red Flag questions now, I would have known my life was going to be a living hell once he arrived. He had yet to be trained as a manager and on our company first. (i.e. He wasn't really yet available to me) His management style was dictatorial. My job responsibilities and job description changed dramatically without any notice, guidance or training, or even a rewrite through HR As the HR pro said before, I suppose some companies have tossed training aside and it is no longer an 'included' (which is a shame), but there has to be a way to ask about management turnover and whether they provide any internal management / leadership training. Thanks for the insight Rich.

Danielle Lynn
Danielle Lynn

I hear ya, I've had several interesting experiences working with several companies. And whether it's business, relationships, or the musty smell of the meat sitting in the back of your fridge - the red flags should never be avoided.

Dee
Dee

I hate to burst your bubble but I am a seasoned HR professional with over 15 years of experience as a recruiter, consultant and job seeker. Although this article does have a lot of merit and I agree that you should look for red flags it's not feasible to "expect" or ask for formal training. In a bad a economy training departments and tuition reimbursement programs are the first to go because they are non-revenue generating departments. In all the jobs I've had in my life time and there have been A LOT, I've only had ONE job where I got formal training and was shown the ropes. To survive in this world you must be smart enough to "figure" things out for yourself and ask a lot of questions. Don't expect people to hold your hand. Companies don't want to spent the time, energy or money to TRAIN you. You have to already be experienced in what you were hired to do. If a company has to train you then they'll simply hire someone they don't have to train. Don't take jobs that may be over your head.

Alexandra the Tsaritsa
Alexandra the Tsaritsa

If it were me, I think the first time I heard the word "cunt" come out of my male superior's mouth would be my first indication to look for new work. We all have to be aware of red flags, even in this crappy economy.

Meg
Meg

This is actually my story and thank you to COTJ for posting. Word to the wise... trust your professional gut instincts because 9 times out of 10 your guts are probably right! Also after reading the Fill the Gap article I will definitely look in to doing so!

David
David

I must disagree with you, and will pray for whatever company you are serving. I've worked in organizations with that attitude and they always fail. Training should be a priority, and it's not unfeasible. to ask or expect training. If anything, knowing that they won't be formally trained will give the candidate an out. Using the economy as an excuse is pure laziness. You want results? You have to develop a winning team. You do that by not just hiring the right people, but pushing them through development to break past their performance barriers. Companies are coming around and realizing that college only goes so far, and that there is a "real world" training that has to occur. No applicant is a silver bullet. There is always something to improve on. Yes training costs money, but the HR costs associated with hiring and terminations is much higher. Invest in your employees and they will respond with loyalty. Their relationship with their job changes as the company becomes more than a paycheck. Try it and see it for yourself.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Dee, thanks but honestly... ? "Companies don't want to spend the time, energy or money to TRAIN you" Yes, you're right there, but it is then THEIR fault for hiring someone who has zero experience. The person who was meant to train her kept blowing off the training and this company DID want to train her. I too am a seasoned HR professional and I tend to disagree with you. Formal training may only take a few hours here or there, and in this story the new employee received NOTHING. I really feel like you're missing the point here, but I thank you for your comment.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Alexandra, me too! Thanks for your comment!

Megan
Megan

I agree - it was actually a female, my former boss, but still. I was just trying to convince myself that she was just really comfortable with me :(

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Thanks for letting me discuss your story, Meg!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] favorite post I've read this week: Corn on the Job's piece on looking for "red flags" when considering a job. I can think of one example in my recent past that comes to mind; I did not [...]

  2. [...] Watch out for red flags at new jobs. [...]