2.20.2006

Notes from Cocktail Hour

I have now been part of the unemployed for more than a week now and have gained a little broader perspective on the entire ordeal of my last employer. And I've had the opportunity to get together with my ex-coworkers a couple of time for a cocktail or two and some disclosure.

The cocktails were nice but the disclosure and gossip made the hangouts alot of fun. And the company intel I got was all but priceless.

Let me recap for the newcomers. I worked at this company for almost four years and was, by far, the longest term employee there. The company held its biggest event yet earlier this month. That event was coordinated, planned and run by me, nearly on my own but with lots of "management help" from the executives. I did the show, we got excellent reviews across the board, my boss never bothered to thank me and then decided that she did not need to pay me the commissions on the sales I'd made for the event.

And that was the final straw and I quit. I've since learned that what she did isn't very defendable in the eyes of the law (a polite way of saying she's not behaving in a legal manner).

Anyway, because of schedules and conflicts, I got together with various subgroups of my old coworkers twice last week. All but the top three, which is pretty much what I expected given the manner of my departure. It would have been alot less fun if they'd been there anyway.

Among the more interesting (and truthfully, funny) things I learned is that they are seriously considering not replacing me and tossing my job onto the rest of the people's shoulders. Same thing with the other person who was able to finish out her two weeks before leaving. They aren't replacing people when they go. And they can't seem to understand why more and more people are going to go now. They're being given more and more work with less and less benefits and absolutely zero respect from the CEO. Why would anyone put up with that?

They are, apparently, incapable of recognizing burnout or preventing it and perhaps part of their model is to burn out their workers and replace them rather than keep them (I'd imagine it is substantially more expensive to keep training new employees rather than retain old ones).

My unsolicited advice to all of them was to keep looking for other work, keep their options open and jump when something presents itself. One of them asked me if I thought the place would get better and I laughed at her. I explained to her that, over the course of my time, the company made more money but the trickle down kept getting smaller and smaller. Less paid vacation days, less bonus money, less of everything, except work. Always more work. And they never wonder why they have such a tremendous turnover rate, especially for such a tiny shop. Overwork and a contemptuous boss make for a pretty short term employment usually. I still can't understand how I lasted almost four years in such a corrosive situation.

And it feels more and more distant with each day. A good distant really because my emotional charge isn't so packed anymore and I can be alot more calculating in what I do and how I do it. I've got my plan and I'm working it until it doesn't work and then I'll go to the next level.
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