“The stupidity of brilliant people never ceases to amaze me.”

 – Jeno Paulucci

Read these doozies…

March 23rd, 2016

My company has a catering firm that we order lunch from during the week. Last year an employee of mine called in sick with the flu and said he was too ill to make it in to the big client meeting we had scheduled that day. Later, I received an email receipt for all the lunch orders that had been processed. Despite “having the flu”, the sick employee was on the list of orders and had an entire lunch and desert delivered to his house that afternoon. I have no idea how he could be too sick to make it to the meeting but had no problem devouring a plate of pasta, salad and cake that day.

Hint, Hint:  I guess your employee didn’t think he actually had to show up to get the goodies. If he attended the meeting virtually, it would have been acceptable to request some food, although admittedly a bit unorthodox considering he claimed he had the flu. Let’s just assume the best -that he was delirious from a fever and didn’t realize how this would make him look. The next time he’s out sick, let him know that there is no “free lunch.”

March 16th, 2016

Many years ago I became an entrepreneur and started my own business. A production associate I worked with was also planning to leave the company we worked at to eventually join me and become a partner. Instead of giving due notice and quitting professionally, she went out to lunch on a Friday, cleaned her desk and just left – never to return. But she forgot there were projects in progress that she hoped to continue with the new venture that were still being produced under the control of the original company. The company was so incensed about her leaving in that way they sued her for several counts of “stealing confidential information.” She had limited resources so I helped with her defense, and the third check I wrote for my new company was a $5,000 retainer to a Law Firm. The total legal fees after one year were over $37,000-which I paid because she had few resources at the time.  To add insult to injury, several years later, she screwed me in a business transaction, totally forgetting that I had spent $37,000 of my money to protect and help her.

Hint, Hint: I was curious to know if the author had gleaned any lesson from this situation, so I reached out to him and I got this response, “ I learned you never really know a person, and it’s important to be aware that people experience reality through their own lenses. The way she saw it, what she did may have been unprofessional and unwise, but it wasn’t illegal.”

I agree that while you may never really know anyone, it would have been wise to spend a lot more time discussing the situation and delving into this woman’s professional values and ethics after witnessing her unprofessional behavior. Often, in our excitement to fill a much needed void in our ranks, we overlook obvious warning signs that would normally cause us to rethink or retract our position.   It was a costly mistake twice over, both professionally and personally, and one I bet he’ll be really careful not to make again.

March 9th, 2016

I think it’s harder to admit your own stupid career moves (I couldn’t think of one, anyway) so I’m going to tell you one from my brother-in-law.  He was a history teacher and baseball coach at a Florida high school.  One year he took the team all the way to the state finals, and around that time, the principal asked him if he would like a big pay raise and promotion to Vice Principal.  Without a lot of consideration, he took the job, even though he knew that the new position would entail things he didn’t like, such as working summers, interacting with students only when disciplining them, and finally, giving up coaching baseball. He went to work in his new job in September, and by October he had already quit after a parent came in and punched him in the face. I think you could say that taking that job was a pretty stupid career move for him.

Hint, Hint: This is a great lesson about doing your due diligence for any job or promotion you’re offered. When the carrot gets dangled in front of us we often forget to do both a critical analysis and a gut check about the pros as well as the cons. A major pay raise is never worth being miserable at your job, especially if you are so unhappy you don’t last longer than a month in the position. If I were your brother-in-law I would have considered other options first, such as asking for a raise in his current position or looking for a similar position with better pay at another school. Hopefully by now his face has healed and the only swing he’s near is from a bat!

March 2nd, 2016

Talk about a helicopter mom:

I dated a guy in college who was the type of millennial employee that makes my whole generation look bad. While we were dating he called in sick to his on campus job at least twice a week. His boss let him get away with it for months but eventually put his foot down and warned my ex that he would be fired if he called in sick one more time without a doctor’s note. My ex of course thought this was a huge injustice and threw a major temper tantrum about it. A couple days later he actually had his mom call into work and explain to his boss that he could not make it because his stomach hurt. He was fired the next day and I dumped him shortly after.

Hint, Hint: I don’t know who’s worse in this situation, the boss that let his employee get away with this for months, the guy who was too immature to make it through a full work-week or the overprotective mom who clearly didn’t teach her son how to take responsibility for his actions. The good news is this guy is now your ex and hopefully you learned a valuable lesson about choosing a partner.

February 24th, 2016

This Guy is Out to Lunch…

One of my colleagues had the habit of stealing  lunches out of the communal refrigerator at work and we were always gossiping  about who it could be. One day a few of us caught him red handed, mid bite, in the break room eating someone’s sandwich with the owner’s name written in plain sight on the bag. From then on, he was the office outcast.

Hint Hint:  I wonder if he wanted to get caught.  I mean, eating someone else’s lunch right out there in public is so incredibly blatant not to mention stupid. You aren’t going to get ahead in the office if your colleagues don’t like or trust you,  and taking people’s food is not the way to win friends. Obviously, for this guy as for us all, there is no such thing as a free lunch!

February 17th, 2016

What a fumble…

Over Super Bowl weekend, one of my real estate agents cancelled his Sunday afternoon appointment with a potential client claiming he was sick. The appointment was rescheduled for the following week with no harm done, or so we thought. That Sunday the agent posted pics of himself on Facebook doing tequila shots off a Panther’s ice sculpture at a Super Bowl party. Later that day, the “jilted” client was on Facebook telling our agent not to bother coming over for their rescheduled appointment.  We lost the game and the sale!

Hint, Hint:  Double Ouch!  It’s always a bad idea to lie in these situations because it can easily come back to bite you, like it did with this guy. Plus, we don’t know how many people the client has told about this little incident, which will certainly impact the business. I’d be interested to hear in the comment section what others have to say about this situation but my guess is that if he had just been honest, explained his devotion to the team and offered to meet either that morning or the next day, the client would have understood (even if they’re not football fans). Sorry for both losses.

February 10th, 2016

I’m 65 this year and am in the final stages of closing out a successful career in HR as an executive.  I still gleefully chuckle over a mean little stunt I pulled many, many years ago to kick sand in the face of a particularly nasty male boss.

I was in my early thirties, female, and working for a majority middle-aged male engineering company in Denver, CO. My boss had recently quit and I was reporting to a manager named Bill, who was a nasty piece of shyte, extraordinarily adept at loudly and publicly berating his staff for minor infractions and telling them that they didn’t have the intellectual prowess to succeed in life, much less at the company.

One day he showed up at my cubicle and proceeded to outline in great detail a reorg he had dreamed up that had me training approximately a dozen new hires, all of whom were being brought on at higher levels than me.  When I asked why I wasn’t being promoted, he blithely proclaimed, “It would mess things up.”  Well, after hearing Bill’s plan to completely take advantage of me, I quickly found another job in a nearby town, and the next weekend I came into the office to empty out my cubicle and fill out a resignation form. I contacted my former boss and had him backdate and sign a vacation permission slip that served the purpose of the traditional two weeks notice. When I didn’t show up the next Monday, a friend told me that Bill was beside himself, screaming a stream of swear words about me along with thinly veiled threats about what he was going to do when he found me. Fortunately, I never saw him again and nothing adverse ever happened to me nor my career as a result of my actions.  Messes are sometimes so very necessary!

Hint, Hint: You know, just sometimes, what goes around comes around and in this case, “Bill The Pill” got his. While I would have suggested that you lodge a complaint with HR (it would have been easy since it was your department) and go talk to his boss, I have to say I applaud your ingenuity and cheekiness, and I love that your old boss was an accessory. Monster Managers, let this be a warning: if you are rude, condescending, a bully or in other words, if you treat your employees like shyte, that’s what you’re going to get in return.

Have you ever messed with a Monster Manager or, do you have a stupid career move you’ve experienced or heard of you’d like to share? Send them my way to stupidcareermoves@gmail.com! All submissions remain anonymous (unless you want us to out you).

February 3rd, 2016

“I’m a 33 year old woman and until just recently I was a lawyer at a very prestigious firm in San Francisco. I was there three months and hated going to work. One day, I decided I couldn’t handle the job anymore and I just didn’t show up. I didn’t call or email anyone and ignored their attempts at communicating with me for the next few days. I know it was wrong and I know I should have handled it differently, but I also figured I would just leave this job off my resume and no one outside of that firm would be the wiser. I soon realized how wrong this assumption was when I was in my first interview with another firm.  The interview was going really well until they asked me why I had acted so unprofessionally in leaving my last job. Turns out, word gets around quickly among law firms in the city. Needless to say I didn’t get that job, or the next three I applied for in San Francisco.”

Hint, Hint: I hear reports of companies using and spitting people out, then hiring the next and often cheaper batch. While that’s despicable, it’s still never a good idea to make a bush-league exit. Too bad that law school didn’t teach conflict resolution. And did you really think your disgruntled ex employers wouldn’t mention this around town? Next time (if there is a next time), communicate your feelings with your boss. Who knows, maybe you can work things out? But, if you can’t, work together with the firm to insure an easy exit for all.

Have you ever quit a job badly and felt justified? I’d love to hear about it. Or, got another #stupidcareermoves you’ve heard or experienced firsthand you’d like to share? Send them my way to stupidcareermoves@peggyklaus.com! All submissions remain anonymous.

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