Let me give you some background before I divulge the buzz. Jared and his support team were the front line against our usually ticked off customers. Why were they ticked off? Simply because our customers were using a beta software product being sold as version 2.0. There were so many bugs even the most veteran exterminator would have been overwhelmed.
One of our customers had called into our support line to complain about having the same problem occur over and over. This was his third call in less than one month. That was bad enough, but it got much worse. The support engineer who was assigned the issue inadvertently forwarded an email response from the product team manager about how this known bug would be fixed in a future release. That wasnt so bad, except the last sentence stated Be sure to push the customer to upgrade to the new release because there is no way we are fixing this bug now.
Well, the customer received that email and went ballistic. He escalated to their CEO who called our CEO. The bug ended up being fixed in the current release and Jared was fired because his team was held responsible for the errant email. Jared had stood up for his support engineer, saying he took responsibility for not getting involved with such a hot escalation.
And the CEO fired him.
Of course there is more history and office politics were deeply involved, but lets get back to the buzz at the all-hands meeting. Turns out all the managers were told by the CEO that although Jared was a nice guy he was really quite incompetent. Subsequently, that buzz had filtered down to the rank and file who were frankly a bit bewildered because they all respected Jared. He was always fair to his team and seemed to make good decisions, almost always keeping the customers happy despite our patchwork product.
Sure enough, the CEO gets up in front of everyone at the all-hands meeting and says Im sure you are all wondering what happened with Jared. We all liked him and wish him well, but his performance was not up to our high standards. This will only benefit us all in the long run. The room fell silent as the CEO quickly moved on to other topics. Jared was effectively thrown under the bus and everyone knew it. Was the sales team blamed for over promising what our software could do? No. Was the product team blamed for delivering more bugs than an ant farm? No. Was the CEO and the rest of the executive management team blamed for promoting a policy that encouraged the sales team to be aggressive with their promises? No.
Therefore Jared was blamed.