I once had a personally troubling experience where I was let go from a team for failure to fit in. The team, as it turns out, did not "gel" properly. It seems it was determined that I was the cause or at least one of the causes of the discord. Rather than speak with me about my behavior, provide me actionable feedback, or offer me an opportunity to alter my behavior, the team lead chose to instead make a recommendation for my dismissal.
When I got the call to let me know that I was to be relieved of my duties pending the completion of the current project, I was blind-sided. Stunned, and trying to remain calm, I asked about my performance of duties. I was assured that I did the job well. That there were no complaints about my ability to do the work or my actual work performance. The issue was that certain members of the team didn't feel like I was a complete team player. Asking for specific examples, I received vague and strange feedback; things about how I behaved at social events, observations on my lack of attentiveness in the team room during times when we were all doing individual work, and favoritism toward a specific team mate such as talking to them more than others or bringing them a tea when I got one for myself. Most of the feedback included phrases like, "...just kinda felt like...." or "...sorta seemed...". Few concrete examples and nothing that warranted termination.
I thought it over, and rather than accept the situation, I appealed to the management committee. I asked for the opportunity to speak to the specific points that warranted my termination, or to at least be provided such points in writing so that I could clearly understand the basis of the recommendation for my termination. No such information was provided. Instead, the management committee overturned the ruling, allowing me to stay in the position.
As the project was coming to an end, a new Team Lead was announced for the next project. This new Team Lead had a professional relationship with the prior Team Lead. Whenever a project begins, there is an opportunity for the Team Lead to adjust team composition, if it is deemed necessary for the success of the project. It is kind of a "fire somebody for free" card.
As you might guess, I was again let go for failure to "gel" with the team. This, according to the new Team Lead, was based on their personal observations of the team and was not influenced by any other factors. This new Team Lead had worked previously with every member of the team except me; I was the only new(ish) member. This Team Lead had not been present at any team meetings, outings, or interactions with the team since I'd joined. In other words, the new Team Lead had no possible personal observations about my interactions with the team. None.
When I asked again for feedback, I was simply told that the team failed to "gel" and "needed a little shaking up". I was again assured that my performance of duties was not the issue. And again, when I asked for the observations that warranted my termination in writing, nothing was provided.
This time, I decided not to fight it.
Clearly, I was the wrong person for this team.
In hopes of avoiding such a situation in the future, I think it important to identify what exactly it is that you're getting if you decide to add me to your team, committee, or board. As this is my only experience of the sort, my examples of how I might be the wrong person are a direct reflection of the behavior and expectations of this specific team. If I have another such experience, I will certainly expand the list.
- If firing someone comes before providing them feedback in your leadership model, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If being buddies is as important as (if not more important than) doing the job well, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If getting food for one team member, but not all is grounds for termination without warning, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If refusing to allow a team member the opportunity to share their own perspective before firing them (or ever) is part of your management style, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If providing mother's rooms "will encourage the wrong kinds of people to be here" is part of your culture, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If trivializing Code Of Conducts and victim blaming is acceptable, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If "the manager feels personally close to you" is a job requirement, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If your hiring process is done by a committee to help avoid bias, but the team lead can overrule the group to bring in a "dear dear friend who just needs to be here", I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If the nature of one's personal relationships outside of work is used to evaluate work performance, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If the team is expected to attend social outings in sexually charged atmospheres, I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If people who express discomfort with sexually charges atmospheres need to "lighten up", I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If jokes about a man forcing a woman to commit a sexual act against her will is "harmless adult humor", I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If the manager motor-boating a member of the wait staff is "just good fun", I might be the wrong person for your team.
- If receiving late night photo texts of other team members in bed with each other helps your team "gel", I might be the wrong person for your team.