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Does it seem like I’m at risk for losing my job?

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 11:57 am
by James Tyler
I work at a biotech company as an RA. A few months ago, I made a huge mistake that cost the company about $50-100k and hurt the company’s reputation. I had a one-on-one with my boss and he told me that because of the incident, he was concerned about my honesty (in the past and present) and thought that I didn’t care about the job. It was a mistake that made me look lazy and like I was lying about my work, but during the meeting, I let him know that wasn’t the case. He also brought up feedback that he got from my direct supervisor; he said that I need to increase my work speed and my flexibility, but he’s never mentioned this until now. My slow work speed and my lack of flexibility are caused by a mental illness that I’m being treated for, so it’s very likely to not change very much within the next year.

On the positive side, during the one-on-one meeting, my boss said that I’m a very valuable employee and the meeting isn’t him saying that he’s telling me that I’m being laid off or fired. My boss has been friendly and social with me for the past month, just like he was before the incident (he’s not avoiding me or being cold towards me). My direct supervisors and senior coworkers aren’t being cold towards me either. I’ve been at the company for a little over 2 years and I’ve never had any huge issues aside from this; I’ve received mostly positive feedback and I get along with everyone. My direct supervisor and coworkers have told me multiple times in the past that I’m a hard-working and honest employee.

Our company is growing because there’s lots of new work coming in, so we hired a few new RAs in the beginning of the year. The new employees that came in are only staying for 2-3 years before they go off to grad school or med school, and everyone at the company knows I want to work there long-term and not leave for grad school. I’m currently proficient at a skill that no one else can do well, but our general practice is to get multiple people proficient at a certain technique just in case a person is sick and can’t do an experiment, so I’ve been training two employees on the technique.

Before the incident occurred, I was occasionally trained on complex techniques that senior employees knew, but since then, the techniques that I’m learning aren’t that complicated and relatively easy to learn (although the new RAs weren’t trained on some of the techniques that I’ve learned). The new RAs have learned a few complex techniques that I still haven’t been trained on. However, I haven’t approached my senior coworkers or direct supervisor about learning any new complex techniques. I haven’t had any one-on-ones with my boss or direct supervisor since the incident, but I rarely have one-on-one meetings. I have them every few months max and they’re always mostly positive, and sometimes it’s just my direct supervisor checking in and asking me how I’m doing or if I have feedback for them.

I’ve read many articles about generic signs that you’ll lose your job, but none of them apply specifically to biotech or RA positions. I was wondering if I could get some input from you guys regarding red flags about losing your job, especially personal examples of signs that led to someone being fired or laid off. What should I look out for in the future that might be an indication that I’ll lose my job soon?

Also, does my situation point to any red flags about me losing my job in the future? What do you recommend that I do?

Re: Does it seem like I’m at risk for losing my job?

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 10:08 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi James, there's nothing in what you say that sounds fishy to me or that sounds like the company intends to fire you. Your mistake was a nasty one because it had financial considerations, but the amount is within a limit that I think they can handle. Just imagine of you were the tech that destroyed the contents of a 10,000 liter bioreactor, including the final therapeutic that sells for $10,000 a dose? Now, THAT's a mistake.

I think the mistake you are making could be that you are not approaching senior staff and acting like you want to learn some of those new, sophisticated methods. If I were you, I'd try to come up with a personal development plan of where you want to be in a couple of years, and implement it. The first thing that plan would likely include would be learning more of the technology that only the senior staff can teach you.

Nothing the company has done points towards impending doom. The only doom that could come would be of your own making, where you become obsolete in the lab. You can prevent that from happening.


Re: Does it seem like I’m at risk for losing my job?

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 2:04 am
by D.X.
Hi James,

Let me give you one of my Favorite quotes - "Reward excellent failures, punish mediocre success" - Tom Peters

Sure you may have made a mistake but as Dave mentioned contexualize it. Sometimes mistakes People make can be blown out of Proportion, and the Person at risk for really blowing it out of perception is generally the Person who made the mistake = i.e being hard on one self. When in reality on the Grand order of things, ist not that bad.

On my side of the fence, People make mistakes far greater than one you've alluded to with much greater Budget Impact. Much much greater Budget Impact and even I've seen some with that have impacted the Company reputuation...publically! With Fines! Where they were fully accountable by regulatory/legal codes but..guess what, they're still around - sherked it off, deflected and re-bounded.

On the upside, when you fail or make a mistake there is a learning opportunity- hense the Reward Excellent Failures part of that Quote. Seems like you're ok and not at risk of being fired, that would have happend already.

You are in a Situation where you will Need to re-build your crediblity so go to it.