How one colleague's failure to do the right thing became the benchmark for the four who followed—and the damage they left in their wake.

A Matter of Record

Dear #2:

I have worked with some of the finest people you could find anywhere, and many of them are copied on this email. My hope is that their memory of my dedicated service will prompt a few words on my behalf. I doubt it would be possible for anyone to be happier than I was starting today as contractor on your Bank of America team. The attitude demonstrated by that squad was astounding. At one point in the day I told [a colleague] that I was exhausted from joy, but I was eager to rest up and arrive bright and early Tuesday. It was so cool to find The Data Warehouse Toolkit waiting on my desk when I walked in. I even took a picture of the book to remember the moment when things would never be the same.

Assuming I wasn’t fired my first day for being too jovial in my eagerness to serve your diligent shop, it’s obvious what happened. How does your perception square with the letter I wrote below to Mr. Moynihan and 17 other executives last summer? I implore all of you to read that short letter so chock-full of ideas and positivity. I wonder what you’ll think knowing I started it within a week of being summarily terminated. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone else in the world who would do that for a company that fired him without a notion of decency. I fully appreciate that contractors do not get the due process afforded to FTEs, but I would like to think that at least a modicum of effort is expected of leaders when resolving any conflict. Instead of seeing contractors as commodities that can be tossed aside on a whim, I would see everyone as resources to maximize their potential—which would inherently maximize mine. Conflict of any kind would be examined with the utmost objectivity in the pursuit of fairness, and I would seize all challenges as opportunities to grow.

No objective person would see “I do not care if your point was correct” as professional conduct—“thank you anyway” would suffice. But the problem goes much deeper than a spat between colleagues who worked together fine before then. After exacting my fury for being thrown out like garbage, I became far more interested in thinking through why such incidents occur in the first place. I tied that question into the ideas I’ve had for years—which are in parallel to the very group I was so thrilled to join today. When [the Architect Executive] for Home Loans & Insurance, left me a voicemail regarding my letter last summer, I about hit the ceiling in excitement. But he had to track down my number, because I purposely left it off. Essential to my cause was that no angle for my benefit be involved, for these ideas had to be delivered as a gift on the merits alone. Last but far from least, I wrote the original draft and then shared it with others to get their input. One thing led to another, and in the most organic way, it became a genuine team endeavor. In a flurry of fun emails, we discussed, challenged, corrected, reflected, refined, and all the goods that go with true collaboration. Not a single word was immune from scrutiny regardless of the source, and our efforts mirror the guiding principles in the letter itself. Speaking of reflections, I thought my team was deserving of something far more than a pat on the back, so the “Eye For Excellence” award was born.

 Sincerely,

 Richard W. Memmer

P.S. Everything below the exec letter is there for the purpose of transparency. Even if the exchanges boil down to a misunderstanding, could anyone argue that I deserved such derision for looking out for our users? I would add that the final screenshot shows that I filled out my Kforce application with absolute honesty. Nothing is more paramount to me than my word.

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