A law firm partner who wanted me fired used to sing my praises, calling me a “golden boy” and going on and on about how I seemed to have a “magic wand” that would solve all the partner’s problems. Now, this partner’s inability to remember to take all their pills each morning was not my doing, but it was nearly my undoing (ever had a boss like this?).
One day I had obtained an especially good result for a demanding client in a challenging case. I was exuberant as I bounded into my boss’s doorway and blurted out “Did you hear how the judge ruled on our Rule 11 motions? Granted! We got them!” I fully expected my boss to jump out of their chair and hug me, or at least shake my hand and offer to call the client and give me credit for the victory.
Instead I got a cold emotionless stare, and a partly sneered question, “When am I going to see your draft of the summary judgment motion for the Kline case?”
The question didn’t hit my hears, it hit my gut. It took my breath away. “We won,” I said meekly.
“I heard you. I’ll inform the client. I want to see your draft before I leave today. I wanted to see it yesterday.”
This exchange depressed me for days. It was obvious my formerly skyrocketing career working under this boss had fallen back down to earth and crashed. I knew I was NOT going to continue to grow and move up if I continued working for this person. When I got over my shock and depression, I started trying to make a lateral move so I could work for a new boss at the same firm.
Luckily for me, this boss also alienated their own boss, and their own management level co-workers. My boss was asked to leave the firm before getting an opportunity to totally “get” me. Not long after, I learned that my former boss had wanted me fired. Given my boss’s total 180 toward me and my accomplishments, I wasn’t surprised to hear it.
Does your own boss act like you can’t do anything right, even when you are bringing him or her great results? Are other employees getting pats on the back for the same things you do, but you get no rewards?
This is the heart of “The Third Step of Walking the Plank Toward Termination”: a boss that no longer gives you any credit for your accomplishments, especially if he or she used to praise you regularly.
A close cousin of this scenario is when your boss gives you no credit for accomplishing something, while lavishing praise on your coworker for doing nearly the same thing, or less.
In either case, you should be aware that if you were a little doll, your boss would be walking you across the plank of the toy ship on his desk and smiling at the thought of dropping you down into the trash can.
What can you do? You can try to move away from the boss, like I did. I got lucky, and the Executives at my firm dropped my boss into their own trash can. Your boss probably has enemies too, but I wouldn’t rely on them to save you.
Another option is that you can leave your job and look for a new one. In this economy, I would not recommend that path to anyone. It’s hardly even an option anymore.
Or, you can learn to fight back by using the tools that the law provides employees — and which mostly go unused. The knowledge of how to fight back, and the friendship and encouragement you need to actually do it — those are the things this website and forum are all about. But even if you don’t choose that path, it’s good to be able to recognize the path you are on.
So now you know: when your boss gives you zero credit for accomplishments that used to get praises, it’s time for you to start thinking through your options.
You do, however, usually have a bit more time. In most cases their are other steps yet to come before the termination axe falls.
We’ll reveal another one of those steps right here on this blog tomorrow.