Author Topic: Trying to think clearly - 1yr update  (Read 2459 times)

Epor

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Trying to think clearly - 1yr update
« on: October 02, 2019, 04:27:06 PM »
Hello;

Two months ago the company I work for was acquired by our biggest direct competitor (competitor is 300 times our size). While Upper-management still says no decision was made regarding our location, is evident that we will be closing down. I work in the IT department as a manager (that also codes, because our small company size).

I received a letter stating that my position would be eliminated in 6-12 months. If I stay for the transition, I will receive 6 monthsí salary as severance (About 60k).

I also have a verbal offer from a previous employer to start anytime. I explain about the severance and he said to take it, and then go to his company.

I realize how privileged is my position: Getting severance and having a job lined up.

But these past two weeks have been brutal. Audits showed that a mistake in my code (my responsibility) caused us to overbill one of our clients. The damage (they are still completing the assessment) could be from 75k to 250k. I feel horrible. I go back to check timelines, and all I see is how I failed to prevent this. How I should have checked this or that, or tested more, or followed up on thingsÖ etc. When I first found it out, I called my boss and offered to resign, I was so embarrassed. I never, in my whole almost 20yr career made such a mistake.

Last week I could not sleep. I took some of my husbandís Ambien, and even so, I could only sleep for a few hours. Every day I was more tired and could not focus on anything else. I was in a fog. Finally last Friday I went to the doctor and got a prescription. I had a couple good days of sleep, I felt better and life kept going on. Today I was asked to put a timeline of the issue, and while revisiting all the emails, I find myself consumed by that dread feeling of last week, the shame of my incompetence.

I know Iím not thinking clear, but I feel like just walking out Ė just to make it stop.

My question to you is: How do you take your mind out of something like this?

PS: Our company do have insurance that probably will cover it. Still does not make me feel better.

*/*/*/*/ one year update /*/*/*/*/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/happiness-with-less/msg2715294/#msg2715294

« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 10:25:54 AM by Epor »

MDM

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2019, 04:59:21 PM »
Only $75K-$250K?

If your actions had made the company that much money, what would expect beyond a pat on the back? So, conversely, ....

In other words, people make mistakes.  It's highly likely that most people with your amount of experience have made some similar mistakes, unless they have been so timid that they never did anything worthwhile.

Kudos to you for feeling some remorse - that means you are human and have high, good, standards for yourself.  Now, safe in the knowledge that you have just passed a graduate level course from the school of hard knocks, go forth and continue to do your normal excellent work.  Good luck!

BECABECA

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2019, 05:14:42 PM »
Youíre dwelling on this one mistake you made and youíre letting it destroy your perception of this job. Iím a perfectionist, and it sounds like you are one too. My advice for myself in this type of situation would be to reframe the problem. The problem isnít that you made one mistake... the problem at hand is that the company needs you to analyze how the problem happened and what it affected so that it can be remedied. It sucks to have to work on this given how close you are to the problem and how it clearly causes a lot of emotional distress. But think of it instead that you are the best person to run this issue to ground, given your proximity to it. The company would not be better off having someone else do it, since anyone else would need to come up to speed on the background environment first. But in order for you to be able to help your company with this important task you need to stop beating yourself up about the mistake in the first place.

So letís address your mindset and put this mistake in context: yes youíre embarrassed and yes it is embarrassing for your company to have to tell a client they got mistakenly over billed. But this mistake isnít permanent: the client can get reimbursed, they didnít go bankrupt because of the overbill, your company even has insurance that covers this sort of thing, no hardware was destroyed, and nobody was physically injured let alone permanently disabled or deceased. In terms of mistakes, this is a relatively painless one because it can be fixed without long term consequences.

Not sleeping really adds to the issue, since even minor things seem really bad when youíre exhausted, so itís good that you got something to help you sleep in the near term.

Thereís one more thing you should consider: you really get a feel for someoneís integrity when something goes wrong. It gives you a chance to really see someone clearly. In your case you came clean to your boss and even offered to resign. Youíll notice your boss didnít take you up on that offer. People make mistakes, itís how they deal with those mistakes that shows what kind of person they are. Your boss will likely have a higher opinion of you after this is all done. And if your company handles the relationship with the client with integrity, it will likely result in a stronger bond with that client.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2019, 05:19:09 PM »
Yeah, let it go. They put you under the stress of a company closure, and you made a mistake because of it. No biggie.

Dicey

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2019, 06:10:48 PM »
If you leave because of this, you're going to feel crappy about it forever.

See if you can define what would qualify as redemption to you (because yours is the only opinion that matters) and maybe take it from there. Talk to your boss again. This sort of stuff does happen and you weren't fired on the spot when the error came to light, so it may not be as bad as it feels right now.

Sure, you can second guess yourself until the cows come home, but I expect there was more pressure to complete the work than time to do it, so saying you should have done X, Y, or Z may not reflect the entirety of the situation at the time.

swashbucklinstache

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2019, 06:27:27 PM »
Thereís one more thing you should consider: you really get a feel for someoneís integrity when something goes wrong. It gives you a chance to really see someone clearly. In your case you came clean to your boss and even offered to resign. Youíll notice your boss didnít take you up on that offer. People make mistakes, itís how they deal with those mistakes that shows what kind of person they are. Your boss will likely have a higher opinion of you after this is all done. And if your company handles the relationship with the client with integrity, it will likely result in a stronger bond with that client.

This times 1 million. As a manager I tell people making mistakes is part of their job. It is one of those things where in an individual instance it seems like it shouldn't happen, but over 10,000 commits a year over multiple years? Multiply 0.9999 times itself 10,000 times and tell me what you get? Would anyone buy insurance for this kind of thing if it weren't prudent to expect that, over multiple years, one or more mistake like this would happen?

Stepping away from this, your boss didn't take you up on resigning and it's not because she's such a nice person. 75% of her job is to identify the best talent per dollar and retain it. 1 mistake, and how you responded so far, means she believes you are that person. Speaking from too much experience with errors in software from the other side of the desk, bosses usually know who the best are and it takes lots of mistakes to change that perception (or one time trying to hide it). My job is to figure out who has the highest probability of a successful outcome, and 1 unsuccessful outcome just goes into a math equation in my mind. Also, I want performance but I want transparency, predictability, and a sense of ownership almost as much. If you actually deserved to feel like you currently do, I would have zero hesitation in making it clear to you that you were not performing and would have before this error, and if you offered to resign I'd try to accept in a way you couldn't back out!

Stepping even further back, you get paid to do a job. If they don't like your performance they'll fire you. Are you worried about being fired? That would make more sense if so (not in your case but generally as a psychological weight) but you aren't. Are you worried that you tried as hard as you could to be the best employee you could and it didn't work out this time (a.k.a. the beginning and end of your job responsibilities)? If so, that's part of the risk that business owners take on every day, their job is to own that feeling and act accordingly, not you. That's why they get compensated, and is the "risk" side of the equation just like it is if they were buying stocks or becoming a landlord.  You can be sure that manage this ahead of time by paying you less salary than you're  worth in order to compensate for actually under-performing employees. It's like feeling bad that you broke some eggs at the grocery store and offering to pay for them when all the while the grocery store is upping their prices 5% to account for theft.

All this coming from someone who once cost > $250,000 in labor hours that were not refundable by insurance or otherwise from a shockingly simple software mistake and not of the typo variety, and now sits on the other side of things.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2019, 04:55:51 AM »
Everyone makes a mistake from now and then, that is only human. The question is, how much do you learn from your mistakes? Are you improving your routines to prevent the mistake from happening again?

I think your company did not have a good software development routine, if one person develops and tests the software and can fuck up for a customer.  In our company we do development by one person, code review by someone else, testing by a third person and then a FAT test with the customer and a SAT at the customer's site before we deploy the new software (we work with safety critical systems).

I think you should suggest for your boss that your company gets a better routine in place where you introduce at least one of the following improvements:
- introducing unit tests in your code (to be written before developing the solution)
- co-developing (working 2 programmers together on a problem)
- code review
- independent testing inside your company
- a FAT or SAT by the customer before deployment

Make the company less depending on one person making a mistake. Get in a shared responsibility for approving the software.

Malcat

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2019, 05:45:02 AM »
Based on how this is all affecting you, I would seek quality therapy to help you process everything you are experiencing.

Between the workplace changes and the error, your brain is clearly overloaded and you don't have the internal resources to manage the overload. As a result, you are having unhealthy reactions that are making the psychic pain worse.

Be responsible and seek some help.
You are experiencing a psychological injury and it needs some reasonable medical attention.

Epor

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2019, 08:26:46 AM »

Thank you! I posted yesterday (after a difficult time working on the timeline and reviewing my errors). I went home, read your kind responses and did feel better. I took some Ambien and slept.

This morning I went for a jog, ate breakfast and I am back to the office. Things do not seem so bleak.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to post such thoughtful responses, your suggestions on how to look at the problem in different ways, learn from it, and keep going on.

After considering your guidance, I decided I will not walk. I'll stay, help with the remediation and provide all information needed, as painful as that is.

I will start applying for similar positions and try to have options lined up when the transition to the new company is complete, and I will cash the severance offered (yesterday I was even thinking of declining it, to pay for my sins).

MDM: Thank you for your words, it did make me smile. (Damage will be around 150k, it seems)

Becabeca: Your post was so very thoughtful. It did make me step back and think about what exactly was bothering me so much. My own pride? My reputation among colleagues? The realization I too make mistakes (Gasp!).

AnnaGrowsAMustache: Since I started on this company in 2006, we have been acquired four times, changed brand/name three times, and the last merge was just 14 months ago. I suspect by 1Q next year we will finally turn off the lights. It was one of those sales/acquisitions that brought me to MMM, and because of this forum, this time I'm not dreading losing my job at all.

Dicey: Agree! I would feel crappy if I just walked. I would probably feel relieved in the short term, only to kick myself later on. I plan on doing all that is needed to remediate the situation, and be available to answer any questions.

swashbucklinstache: Thank you for sharing your personal experience with a very very similar issue - It is very nice to hear the opinion of someone in your position, and I took your advice to heart.

Linea_Norway: At the time of my error, the company was a 100-person affair and the IT team was only a 5 person team. Policies and procedures were just a dream - not much investment in the IT department, because $$$. The goal was to sell the company and turn a quick profit, so the investment was minimal.

Malkynn: what kind of therapist should I look for? Stress-management?

Malcat

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2019, 08:32:52 AM »
Malkynn: what kind of therapist should I look for? Stress-management?

Pretty much everyone in therapy is dealing with managing stress, so any qualified therapist should be able to help you.

Just be diligent about looking at their qualifications as in a lot of jurisdictions, the title "therapist" isn't regulated.

For this reason, I tend to recommend seeking out a clinical psychologist, which is someone who has a recognized doctorate and is a licensed healthcare professional.



Epor

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2019, 08:38:39 AM »
Malkynn: what kind of therapist should I look for? Stress-management?

Pretty much everyone in therapy is dealing with managing stress, so any qualified therapist should be able to help you.

Just be diligent about looking at their qualifications as in a lot of jurisdictions, the title "therapist" isn't regulated.

For this reason, I tend to recommend seeking out a clinical psychologist, which is someone who has a recognized doctorate and is a licensed healthcare professional.

Thanks for the pointers. I'll call my primary doctor and ask for a referral, thank you for your prompt answer.

AnxietyFly

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2019, 08:40:52 AM »
One of the hardest things for me was that I am human. I make mistakes but I need to learn from the mistake and move on.  Very easy to get caught up in the emotions and not learn from those experiences and not moving on on.

AnxietyFly

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2019, 08:41:50 AM »
By the way, your in a great position with the severance package and new job. I would just ride the roller coaster.

Laura33

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2019, 09:03:40 AM »
One suggestion:  please stop thinking of it as you "cost" your company $150K.  The reality is that they originally collected $150K more than they earned, so now they just need to give back what they should never have had in the first place.  Right?  So they are financially exactly where they would have been if you had done things right the first time, except for the time required to resolve this.  Right?  Yes, it's embarrassing, and no one wants to be the one who caused that, but in the world of imperfect human beings, that hardly even counts.

And the fact that you care so much, and that this is your first noticeable mistake in the many years you've been there, says that you are an exceptional employee and they are lucky to have you.  So hold your head high, help them fix the problem, and move on.

BECABECA

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2019, 09:05:13 AM »
So glad to hear that youíre feeling better! And glad to hear that youíre resolved to stick it out... I think thatís the best route for both you and your company, which usually means itís the right course. We are here for you if youíre feeling conflicted again!

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2019, 11:23:46 AM »
One suggestion:  please stop thinking of it as you "cost" your company $150K.  The reality is that they originally collected $150K more than they earned, so now they just need to give back what they should never have had in the first place.  Right?  So they are financially exactly where they would have been if you had done things right the first time, except for the time required to resolve this.  Right?  Yes, it's embarrassing, and no one wants to be the one who caused that, but in the world of imperfect human beings, that hardly even counts.

And the fact that you care so much, and that this is your first noticeable mistake in the many years you've been there, says that you are an exceptional employee and they are lucky to have you.  So hold your head high, help them fix the problem, and move on.

I was going to post this exactly.  You didn't cost your company anything.  They aren't losing money.  You made a mistake with a net effect of zero.  Making mistakes at work definitely sucks, but you didn't make them lose $150k in revenue or cause an accidental $150k expense.  Don't lose sleep over that.

And bravo for owning up to the mistake.  Hold your head high.

Tester

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2019, 04:53:40 PM »
Stop.
You are fine.
Stay and get all the dough, continuing your great way of caring for things.
I know of cases where some companies were overbilled by millions and the after there was a document written to prevent future problems like that nobody got fired/resigned
And as already stated, you did not cost your company anything - except if the people overbilled will sue.

Get a week off, drink some tea, go for a walk in a wood, do something you like.
Then enjoy the remaining time at this company, get the severance package and start with the new one
When you get the severance package enjoy it + you deserve it.

Epor

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2019, 10:44:06 AM »
Update: I reached out to a therapist yesterday and due to a cancellation, I was able to get in this morning. I am still processing the conversation - but in short: the feeling I'm struggling with is simply: shame. Besides that the physical symptoms I get when I get an email asking for more info, etc is anxiety; and I have some pointers on how to deal with that. I will continue going to therapy for a while, I feel I need to know myself a little better and therapist can help me with that.

Other points mirrored much the forum advice: learn from it, grow, and move on. This experience, as hard as I am making it on myself, is making me a better professional.

To all of you kind internet strangers: Thank you!

red_pill

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2019, 01:57:53 PM »
I'd suggest you watch Jocko Willink's TED talk on "Extreme Ownership". Or his book by the same title.  Might help you reframe this.  Oh, and just like you accepted ownership of the error, your boss needs to accept ownership of the lack of policies and procedures or investment into IT that caused this as well.  They wanted to cut costs on IT, but they dont get to do that without incurring risk.  They made money off the sale of the company, but that was a double edged sword.

Also, dont over estimate how big of a deal this is to your boss.  From your perspective it is the single biggest thing going on and occupies all of you thoughts.  But the bosses have other problems - in a company of 100 people trust me there are people causing drama and problems that make yours seem like nothing ar all.  This will blow over for your boss's perspective far quicker than from yours, so dont beat yourself up for too long.

Malcat

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2019, 05:53:22 AM »
Good on you for taking the advice given. A lot of people ask for help and many of them don't follow through because it takes a lot of moving out of your comfort zone to actually tackle your problems.

This internet stranger is impressed. Good luck with the process of understanding yourself better, it's very intense but very worthwhile.

BlueHouse

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Re: Trying to think clearly.
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2019, 07:51:55 AM »
@BECABECA nailed it.

No one died, no one was hurt.  The other company is getting a windfall they didn't expect this year.  (okay, Mustachians don't think like this, but nearly everyone else does...just think of every person that gets a tax refund at the end of the year).

Women tend to internalize problems and make everything "their fault" and "their responsibility 100%". Think about how you would treat a staff member if someone else had made the mistake?  What would you be telling them right now?   

I'm glad you're past the worst of it and glad you got some great advice here.  Please don't let this experience affect your future or your confidence in yourself and your abilities.  I'm also glad to know that someone out there in IT land cares about the consequences of their code.  My personal, medical, and financial data has been hacked into at Experian, at CareFirst, at Yahoo, and at the U.S. Government. No one gives a crap about it and I would be shocked if anyone lost sleep over it other than what would happen to them personally.

Epor

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