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My Boss Replaced Me Then Begged Me To Come Back And Save The Company



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This is the story of Jasmin, a project manager for a software company. After she had been let go, six weeks later, she was rehired by the same company. Here’s how it happened:

I was the project manager for a software development company based in Bangsar South. During the lean start-up phase, I had come on board to handle all of the company’s software development projects.

Two years in, the company was stable with regular clients and work, and we were supposed to transition to more professional tools and systems.

However, we still used our personal laptops for work, and there were no proper communication tools or project management software. Our software was developed on “cracked” development engines, before being finally compiled for delivery on the one legitimately licensed development engine.

I created an entire project management system from basic google spreadsheets.

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Since we didn’t have the software, I created a series of Google workbooks, each containing multiple linked spreadsheets. Each workbook was also linked with other workbooks. Essentially, I created my own project management system from scratch. 

Because I was the one who built it, I was the only one who understood the in-depth intricacies of the entire system. As long as I kept those workbooks updated, I could balance the project requirements against the resources the company has available to deliver.

This would always put me at odds with the business development team and the owner, because I always insisted on realistic deadlines and smart objectives that held everyone accountable.

I was disliked and yelled at constantly because I would “ cost them money” by turning down projects.

The truth was, the owner’s lofty dreams were not achievable with the resources and manpower that we had. But he put up with me because I did prevent a lot of problems, and found creative solutions that did save some money where possible.

Over time, I helped build the company a sterling reputation for delivering quality work consistently on time and within budget.


The company signed up for 3 new projects, but my request for more headcount was denied. 

Pexels Andrea Piacquadio 3760790

When the company signed two new clients, that brought in an additional three projects. During the meeting, I clarified that I would need three additional headcounts to help manage the 9 projects simultaneously.

Naturally, the owner was unhappy, because my request for those additional headcounts would mean a lot of expenses in recruiting and training.

He denied my request, saying: “There is no money in the budget.” What he had forgotten was how the process worked: The workbooks I created to do my job were used to determine project related costs, including manpower.

This meant that budgets and numerous other finance documents were created based on the forecasts created from the data in my workbooks.

So telling me that my data, analysis and projections showed there was no money available, makes no sense at all, because there clearly was more than enough.

Regardless, I kept my mouth shut and had no choice but to survive the situation for six months.


When they didn’t give me an annual bonus, I knew I was being replaced.

Just before Chinese New Year rolled around in 2019, things took a turn for the worse: I didn’t get a bonus, and there was no salary increment either. You just know something terrible will happen.

When I suddenly had two new people on my team, whose combined salaries were 85% of mine, I smelled the stink coming downwind. Instead of trying to fight it, I trained the new hires and continued to do my job. 

On the day the newbies cleared probation, HR wanted to meet me. The meeting contained no surprises: I was offered a severance package that included garden leave.

This meant that my last day would be 2 weeks instead of 1 month. The alternative to this was getting terminated, effective immediately. Rather than protest over how I was being treated, I simply agreed and signed the necessary paperwork.


After I left, I stopped updating the project management system I created.

On the day I signed my severance package, I stopped updating a single data field in one of the Google workbooks.

It was only one of the many data fields that needed weekly calibration, but when not updated, the automated calculations would start being incorrect. 

It begins with a few decimal places being slightly off, but then it gets worse, causing knock-on effects to other calculations in the same spreadsheet, which cascades into other workbooks.

Deadlines, activity reports, progress tracking, and cost estimates would suddenly be off by small unnoticeable amounts. The longer those few data fields are not updated, the worse things would get.

This is just one of several hundreds of variables in dozens of formulas, and without knowing where to look, you have to manually check everything, which is dozens of hours of work.

And even then, if you could find it, you’re not likely to understand why it’s this data field, because I built the system, so only I knew how everything intuitively worked.


The company went full speed ahead… and off a cliff.


When I left to go on garden leave, estimations were off by a few hundred ringgit in several budgets, and projected timelines had started to slip by a day or two. Nothing major yet.

After awhile, they had onboarded several new clients and projects. The owner had waited for me to leave before doing so, because he knew I would have objected and blocked this on the grounds of insufficient manpower.

After my garden leave was completed, I went off to do my own thing. A week after I left employment, one of the juniors called and asked me for help, which I declined.

Then came the very politely worded email from the owner, asking me to “please come back”.

At this point, I agreed to go in and assess the situation. When I had a chance to look at the spreadsheets, I found they had imploded: Estimations were grossly inaccurate and timelines were ridiculous. 

Without a working project management system, people were starting to burn out from stress and fatigue. I predicted that within the next six weeks, the company would buckle under the pressure of deadlines they could not meet.


I was rehired with a 50% salary increment

Disclaimer: In Real Life Is A Platform For Everyday People To Share Their Experiences And Voices. All Articles Are Personal Stories And Do Not Necessarily Echo In Real Life’s Sentiments. This Is The Story Of Jasmin, A Project Manager For A Software Company. After She Had Been Let Go, Six Weeks Later, She Was Rehired By The Same Company, With A Higher Salary. Here’s How It Happened: I Was The Project Manager For A Software Development Company Based In Bangsar South. During The Lean Start-Up Phase, I Came On Board To Handle All Of The Company’s Software Development Projects. Two Years In, The Company Was Stable With Regular Clients And Work, And We Were Supposed To Have Transitioned To More Professional Tools And Systems. However, The Owner Had One Of The Worst Cheapskate Attitudes I’ve Ever Seen. We Still Used Our Personal Laptops For Work, And There Were No Proper Communication Tools Or Project Management Software. Our Software Was Developed On “Cracked” Development Engines, Before Being Finally Compiled For Delivery On The One Legitimately Licensed Development Engine. You Get The Idea. I Created An Entire Project Management System From Basic Google Spreadsheets. Since We Didn’t Have The Software, I Did What All Good Project Managers Do: Adapt And Pivot. I Created A Series Of Google Workbooks, Each Containing Multiple Linked Spreadsheets. Each Workbook Was Also Linked With Other Workbooks. Essentially, I Created My Own Project Management System From Scratch. Since I Was The One Who Built It, I Was The Only One Who Understood The In-Depth Intricacies Of The Entire System. As Long As I Kept Those Workbooks Updated, I Could Balance The Project Requirements Against The Resources The Company Has Available To Deliver. This Always Put Me At Odds With The Business Development Team, And Of Course The Owner, Because I Always Insisted On Realistic Deadlines And Smart Objectives That Held Everyone Accountable. I Was Disliked And Yelled At Constantly Because I Would “ Cost Them Money” By Turning Down Projects. The Truth Was, The Owner's Lofty Dreams Were Not Achievable With The Resources And Manpower That We Had. But He Put Up With Me Because I Did Prevent A Lot Of Problems, And Found Creative Solutions That Did Save Some Money Where Possible. Over Time, I Helped Build The Company A Sterling Reputation For Delivering Quality Work Consistently On Time And Within Budget. The Company Signed Up For 3 New Projects, But My Request For More Headcount Was Denied. When The Company Signed Two New Clients, That Brought In An Additional Three Projects. During The Meeting, I Clarified That I Would Need Three Additional Headcounts To Help Manage The 9 Projects Simultaneously. Naturally, The Owner Was Unhappy, Because My Request For Those Additional Headcounts Would Mean A Lot Of Expenses In Recruiting And Training. He Denied My Request, Saying: “There Is No Money In The Budget.” What He Had Forgotten Was How The Process Worked: The Workbooks I Created To Do My Job Were Used To Determine Project Related Costs, Including Manpower. This Meant That Budgets And Numerous Other Finance Documents Were Created Based On The Forecasts Created From The Data In My Workbooks. So Telling Me That My Data, Analysis And Projections Showed There Was No Money Available, Makes No Sense At All, Because There Clearly Was More Than Enough. Regardless, I Kept My Mouth Shut And Had No Choice But To Survive The Situation For Six Months. When They Didn’t Give Me An Annual Bonus, I Knew I Was Being Replaced. Just Before Chinese New Year Rolled Around In 2019, Things Took A Turn For The Worse: I Didn’t Get A Bonus, And There Was No Salary Increment Either. You Know Something Terrible Will Happen When They Don’t Give You A Bonus And No Increment. You Get A Sense For These Things When You’ve Managed Projects, People And Egos For 10 Years. When I Suddenly Had Two New People On My Team, Whose Combined Salaries Were 85% Of Mine, I Smelled The Stink Coming Downwind. Instead Of Trying To Fight It, I Trained The New Hires And Continued To Do My Job. On The Day The Newbies Cleared Probation, Hr Wanted To Meet Me. The Meeting Contained No Surprises: I Was Offered A Severance Package That Included Garden Leave. This Meant That My Last Day Would Be 2 Weeks Instead Of 1 Month. The Alternative To This Was Getting Terminated, Effective Immediately. Rather Than Protest Over How I Was Being Treated, I Simply Agreed And Signed The Necessary Paperwork. Meanwhile, The Company Was Still Using The Project Management System I Had Built All Those Years Ago. After I Left, I Stopped Updating The Project Management System I Created. On The Day I Signed My Severance Package, I Activated What I Call My Personal “Fail Safe”: I Stopped Updating A Single Data Field In One Of The Google Workbooks. It Was Only One Of The Many Data Fields That Needed Weekly Calibration, But When Not Updated, The Automated Calculations Would Start Being Incorrect. It Begins With A Few Decimal Places Being Slightly Off, But Then It Gets Worse, Causing Knock-On Effects To Other Calculations In The Same Spreadsheet, Which Cascades Into Other Workbooks. Deadlines, Activity Reports, Progress Tracking, And Cost Estimates Would Suddenly Be Off By Small Unnoticeable Amounts. The Longer Those Few Data Fields Are Not Updated, The Worse Things Would Get. This Is Just One Of Several Hundreds Of Variables In Dozens Of Formulas, And Without Knowing Where To Look, You Have To Manually Check Everything, Which Is Dozens Of Hours Of Work. And Even Then, If You Could Find It, You’re Not Likely To Understand Why It's This Data Field, Because I Built The System, And Only I Knew How Everything Intuitively Worked. The Company Went Full Speed Ahead And Off A Cliff. When I Left To Go On Garden Leave, Estimations Were Off By A Few Hundred Ringgit In Several Budgets, And Projected Timelines Had Started To Slip By A Day Or Two. Nothing Major Yet. While On Garden Leave, I Called To Check In And Was Not Surprised To Find Things Starting To Fall Apart. Since I Left, They Had Onboarded Several New Clients And Projects. The Owner Had Waited For Me To Leave Before Doing So, Because I Likely Would Have Objected And Blocked This On The Realistic Grounds Of Insufficient Manpower. Just Hearing Second-Hand What Those New Projects Involved, I Knew They Were Painfully Overextended. After My Garden Leave Was Completed, I Went Off To Do My Own Thing And Waited. A Week After I Left Employment, One Of The Juniors Called And Asked Me For Help, Which I Declined. Then Came The Very Politely Worded Email From The Owner. At This Point, I Agreed To Go In And Assess The Situation. When I Had A Chance To Look At The Spreadsheets, I Found They Had Imploded. Estimations Were Grossly Inaccurate And Timelines Were Ridiculous. Without A Working Project Management System, People Were Starting To Burn Out From Stress And Fatigue. I Predicted That Within The Next Six Weeks, The Company Would Literally Disintegrate. I Was Rehired With A 50% Salary Increment When I Sat Down With The Owner, I Clarified That The Situation Could Be Salvaged, But It Would Cost Him. He Agreed To All My Demands: The Title Of Project Management Lead, A 50% Raise, Yearly Salary Increments To Match Adjusted Living Costs Per Year, And A Generous 6-Month Signing-On Bonus. In The Next Few Weeks, I Focused On Damage Control To Restore Operations To Normal. After The Dust Settled, The Owner Was Grateful To Have A Company, And I Was Grateful To Have My Job Back. Now, Management Listens When I Give The Red Light To A Project. What If They Intend On Replacing Me Again? After Seeing How This Has Already Backfired On Them, I Doubt It. They Have Learnt Their Lesson: It Really Is In Their Best Interests To Let Me Do My Job. It’s True That In The Current Job Market, Nobody Is Truly Irreplaceable. But If You Know Exactly What Makes You Invaluable To The Company, You Can Be Assured That Eventually, The Company Will Recognise Your Value. If You’ve Got A Personal Experience, Let Us Know At: Hello@Inreallife.my For More Stories Like This, Read: My Boss Replaced Me, Then Begged Me To Come Back And Save The Company

When I sat down with the owner, I clarified that the situation could be salvaged, but it would cost him.

He agreed to all my demands: The title of Project Management Lead, a 50% raise, yearly salary increments to match adjusted living costs per year, and a generous 6-month signing-on bonus.

In the next few weeks, I focused on damage control to restore operations to normal. After the dust settled, the owner was grateful to have a company, and I was grateful to have my job back.

Now, management listens when I give the red light to a project.

When I told this story to my friends, they asked “What if they intend on replacing you again?” After seeing how this has already backfired on them, I doubt it.

While it’s true that in the current job market nobody is truly irreplaceable, if you know exactly what makes you invaluable to the company, you can be assured that eventually, the company will recognise your value.

Credits: IRL


Also read: M’sian Tells Boss That She’s Taking Leave To Go To Temple & Pray For A BF, Boss Says Go Ahead

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Source: Pexels/Lukas
Source: Pexels/RDNE

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