Got fired for "talking to the CEO"

New / Product
Lallan

New Product

PRE
Xerox
BIO
Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
Lallanmore
Dec 5, 2019 29 Comments

TL;DR
I was fired in 4 months from a product manager position. While firing me the boss told me the reason being that I had met the CEO without her permission.
EDIT: I want to add here that this was just a pretext. My boss had told me verbally a week prior that she was okay with me meeting the CEO

Intro
Just posting my story and wondering if anybody else has seen something similar. I am a product manager in Austin. 10 YOE total, with around 8 as a SWE in mid-size companies, and 3 as a PDM.

Backstory
I joined a sister company of Keller Williams 4 months back as a Product Manager. In a team of 8 people, I was the only tech person, all others being women in their 50s hailing from real estate. The idea was to create a Zillow-Offers like tech company. I was given a 5 member remote dev team that sat in Poland.

From the get-go I tried to educate everyone, including my boss, about how tech companies work. I introduced them to scrum, weekly standups, and other stuff to streamline the business. I also handled 2 products (large to mid-size web applications) and delivered a POC on one in 2.5 months. Just to keep things in perspective, another similar sister company took exactly 1 year to bring out their POC.

I used to get monthly reviews from my boss who told me at least 3 times that she was planning to promote me to a director position.

Suddenly things changed after 3 months. I bumped into the CEO (incidentally CEO was just 2 levels above me; he was my boss's boss) and realized that my boss never told him about the software POC I released. I sought a meeting with him and explained on what I was delivered, and that the other software would be released in a month.

Soon after this I started getting tremendous pressure to deliver the second software in a few days. When I tried to explain why this wasn't possible ("I can add a payment method and some text pages on my WordPress website in a day, why can't you") I was told that I wasn't a good leader because I am not able to push my team enough. Really frustrated and burnt-out by all the work I was doing I made a quick-and-dirty WordPress website for them to hold them off for a month while my team worked on a NodeJS/React app hosted on GCP.

The next day I was fired for "talking to the CEO" and "not being able to work fast enough". I suspect I was made a scapegoat for some office politics.

(Extra: To make things more interesting my boss sent a legal notice to me accusing me of having deleted company info. This was, of course, false - I sent a legal reply and shut them up)

I am wondering if anybody here has had a similar experience. Am I missing something here?

comments

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TOP 29 Comments
  • Qualtrics / Eng qul
    Consider yourself lucky. They saved you time, so now you can invest it somewhere more worthwhile.
    Dec 5, 2019 3
    • New / Product
      Lallan

      New Product

      PRE
      Xerox
      BIO
      Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
      Lallanmore
      OP
      Thanks! I have now started my own gig.
      Dec 5, 2019
    • New lbnx16
      @qul is right. That place is broken AF. The higher you go the worse it gets.
      Dec 5, 2019
  • JPMorgan Chase fk32sda
    You going to sue?
    Dec 5, 2019 4
    • JPMorgan Chase fk32sda
      For the dollar bills
      Dec 5, 2019
    • New / Product
      Lallan

      New Product

      PRE
      Xerox
      BIO
      Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
      Lallanmore
      OP
      My attorney advised against it. Apparently in Texas there is not much you can do as an employee. Moreover a lawsuit will be public info and can affect my future employment prospects. Companies would probably want to avoid a guy who sued his previous employer. (Just my perception)
      Dec 5, 2019
  • OpenTable Meliodas
    Yeah, you did an end run around your boss and she didn’t like it.

    Next time work with your boss. Perhaps she wasn’t telling the CEO, for the exact reasons that got passed through to you.
    Dec 5, 2019 9
    • New / Product
      Lallan

      New Product

      PRE
      Xerox
      BIO
      Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
      Lallanmore
      OP
      Got it! My theory is that since she was from a real estate background she wasn’t able to adequately explain to her boss what her tech team was doing.

      I have some evidence that demonstrates that she was a total non-tech person; starting from not knowing what a “release” means, to not knowing the difference between a usb and hdmi. I am not over exaggerating and am not trying to disparage her.

      Every time I offered to come along for the tech discussion she refused, so I used to give her copious amounts of diagrams and PPTs. It didn’t work obviously.
      Dec 6, 2019
    • OpenTable Meliodas
      Totally hear you. I once had a client say, “we don’t want a backend. We want an app, like Uber, but for ...”

      You’ll look back on this and know it was for the better.
      Dec 6, 2019
  • New / Eng lHpK84
    Yeah dude exact same thing happened to me, down to.the Zillow product. Crazy world.
    Dec 5, 2019 1
    • New / Product
      Lallan

      New Product

      PRE
      Xerox
      BIO
      Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
      Lallanmore
      OP
      Wow! Seems like a lot of these companies exist. Would you mind sharing a bit more about your situation? If it's okay I can message you. I am just trying to figure out how to identify companies like this and avoid them.
      Dec 6, 2019
  • Did your boss ever explain why she didn't tell the CEO about the POC that was released?
    Is there a reason why you didn't tell your boss that you would be meeting with her boss?
    Dec 5, 2019 1
    • New / Product
      Lallan

      New Product

      PRE
      Xerox
      BIO
      Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
      Lallanmore
      OP
      My boss never explained why she didn’t tell the ceo about the progress of the tech team.

      I did tell my boss that I met with the ceo. She told me explicitly that she had no problems with me talking to the ceo. A week later she fires me for the same thing.

      Unfortunately I don’t have any evidence of what she told me, it was all verbal, in a 1-1 meeting.
      Dec 5, 2019
  • Microsoft
    Tier 1

    Microsoft

    BIO
    #1 in Prestige
    Tier 1more
    Uhh sounds like it’s good that you got out of there.
    Dec 5, 2019 0
  • Collins Aerospace / Project Z!
    Sorry to hear. Something similar happened to me a few jobs back. There are some common themes namely that my boss was also female and she had a history of being two faced and then throwing her subordinates under the bus. Then sent me a cease and desist for stuff not even related to my job. Just move on. It’s a bitter situation that will only feel better with time
    Dec 6, 2019 1
    • New / Product
      Lallan

      New Product

      PRE
      Xerox
      BIO
      Product Manager in Austin TX; ex-coder guy, MS-CS, 11 yr WEX including 4 as PDM
      Lallanmore
      OP
      Wow! I wonder if these things happen because of the boss, or the workplace culture.

      In my 10+ year career I’ve had 3 female bosses. One was brilliant and was great to work with. But the other two were downright assholes.

      One banned pair programming because it “decreased productivity”. Another one had a team building exercise during which she explicitly told her team “I compare the loyalty of my employees to my dog’s”. I-kid-you-not.

      At times you have a bad experience regardless of the gender of your boss, and I’ve had my fair share as well. But I feel that some female bosses try to overcompensate by acting even more dickish than their male counterparts.
      Dec 7, 2019
  • New HXwF46
    First off. F KELLER WILLIAMS in every way. However what may have happened here is you showed unfinished product to CEO. CEO slammed to your boss. Your boss canned you.
    Dec 25, 2019 0
  • New zwnE34
    Send an email to the CEO explaining the situation. You have nothing to loose.
    Dec 17, 2019 0
  • Amazon RangerT
    You are better off getting out of a toxic place like that.
    Dec 13, 2019 0

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