Me and karma vibe like that
Sometimes the universe steps in
Terrible things happen at work, and there’s often nothing we can do about it. Furthermore, there are systems in place to protect people in power. It’s not a level playing field.
It’s a fine line to walk between actively wishing for bad things to happen to a manager or a company that has harmed people and knowing other people may be harmed as a result. But I truly believe that bad companies shouldn’t exist. Their damage can be significant. Better that they crumble and those employees find jobs elsewhere. Same with bad managers. They shouldn’t have jobs where they exert power over others.
But sometimes karma comes forward. “What goes around comes around.” I asked some people I know to share stories of workplace karma, that we may all relish in knowing that sometimes, just sometimes, the universe is looking out for us.
“I left a company that had truly terrible people. They were vicious to each other and never worked as a team. So much drama, all the time. Leadership ignored the problems. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and quit. I gave a really generous notice period, wanting to be helpful with transitioning my role but the CEO was insulted that I had decided to leave so I was pushed out.
The company sold about a year later for a ridiculously low price. One thing the company did really well was workplace flexibility, but the new owners took that all away. Sales are abysmal. Employees have been laid off. I knew it was a sinking ship, but now it seems to have reached deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic stage.”
“I worked for a company that let me go because they found someone cheaper. The new person got the company’s Instagram account banned. I had built that Instagram account to a reach of over 3k in one month…
A month after I was let go, I found another job at 5x the salary. Said company crashed last year due to mismanagement.”
“I worked for the same design agency for 11 years. The agency had an enormous client, for which I handled all email marketing, concepts, design, etc.
The agency let go of nearly all its staff to cut costs. I was one of the few remaining. Then the company stopped giving out raises. As a senior designer with experience working with large e-commerce brands, I was really underpaid. I asked for a $5,000 bump. I was told no.
I quit my job and got a new job paying over $100k. With no one left who could do my job, the agency lost the large client and a whopping 65% of its annual revenue.”
“My company ignored its employees on vision and direction and decided to shift focus to web3/NFTs. Almost 100% employee turnover in three years. Now the company is in a sunk cost fallacy with the web3 stuff. They will never IPO and they’ve run the company so poorly in the past three years that I can’t imagine anyone buying them.”
“Early in my career, I worked at an ad agency for a creative director who talked endlessly about his track record of mentorship and how passionate he was about mentoring women, in particular. In the year I worked for that company, I received direct feedback from this creative director three times and met with him 1:1 once.
Then came performance review time and I was put on a performance improvement plan (PiP) for not logging enough billable hours. I pushed back and pointed out that I had received no direction, assignments, or feedback from my creative director the whole time I had been working for the company. The HR leader apologized and said I never should have been put on a PiP.
Later, I found out from another woman at the agency who had been “mentored” by this creative director that the “mentorship” amounted to him “coaching” her on the kind of clothes she wore and offering to take her shopping. He also gave her a weird shoulder massage.
The creative director got fired shortly after I left the agency and is now working at a level several rungs below creative director.”
“I was working my first full-time marketing job after moving to a new city. Three months into my time there, the company laid off 30% of staff, myself included. Two weeks before my wedding. With two weeks of severance. And just over a month after spending $200,000 on a massive Christmas party.
The company went under within a year, partially because of gross mismanagement of their investment funding. The startup had received around $50 million in funding just before I joined. Fuck mediocre leadership who fails up.”
“I once worked for a company that said I was really valuable and hinted I would get a promotion. When I applied for it, I was told I didn’t have enough experience and they didn’t have the budget for it anyway. I would need to learn more, be there longer, yadda yadda.
Later, I found a new job that paid almost 50% more and gave notice. They tried to get me to stay by offering the promotion they said they couldn’t give me before. I said no and moved on. The company hired a replacement less experience and lasted less time than I did. Turnover is a bitch.
I’ve learned the best way to get a promotion is to leave.”
“While writing for a client, I was forced to work with their freelance editor. This woman was incredibly rude, often refusing to finish reading an article because ‘the content is too boring’ (even though the client assigned the topics). She made unprofessional comments and talked down to me, implying I knew nothing about grammar or writing.
Months after I stopped writing for the client, the woman was contracted by the content agency I was working for to do some editing work. I got to see her absolutely eviscerated by the agency’s managing editor. Rude editor was fired shortly thereafter.”
“I had a manager that discriminated against me for having a child. I didn’t have day care early in the pandemic. Four of us quit within a month because of her.
She was trying to get named CMO within the company. Then the company hired a new CMO from the outside behind her back. She eventually slunk off to work for some startup that’s only doing so-so.”
“I worked for a general manager who was ‘a nice guy’ but not much else. He routinely ignored advice from people who had much more experience, knowledge, and (frankly) good ideas. He babysat his team and scrutinized every little decision.
He also had no idea how to manage the company’s financials. He never looked at the numbers. After I left, he had to lay off 75% of staff and he stepped down. Another example of incompetent leadership destroying a viable business.”
Special shout out to Taylor Swift’s song Karma, the inspiration for this post.
You can also follow me on LinkedIn for more insights about work, or on Threads for spicier takes, and Medium where I write about fun stuff like productivity and creativity. Or catch up on the personal side of my life on my blog.
If you want to support me as a writer, you can buy me a coffee.