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Fairness Commitments Ethics Communication Training and Education Terminations

Until recently, I was a sales manager for a technology start-up. I had no idea where to go or how to sell the product. I was not even trained in the basics. I taught myself and made presentations, but I was paid very little. Just before the end of five months with the company, the vice president of sales terminated me for failing to bring in sales. The company has many employees who are dissatisfied and trapped in a heap of unfilled promises. What could be the reason for my boss's irresponsible behavior? Is this typical of how start-ups treat their employees?

On the one hand, it would be easy to conclude that you are a sales manager who did not produce sales, so you were terminated. On the other hand, the orientation and training were missing, the pay practices were questionable, and there was no guidance, feedback, or support.

Your manager's motivation for terminating you may have resulted from his desire to take action on a performance issue on his watch, but could just as easily have been a reflection of his desire to show management that he can be strong, make tough decisions, and act forcefully on problem situations. However, the real problem situation is this company.

It appears that there are questionable management priorities and practices, unclear goals and strategies, cadres of dissatisfied employees, and a lack of communication at all levels. Importantly, the behavior that you described is not exclusive to start-ups, but it can indicate that a start-up is about to become a start-down.

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