The AxMan Cometh

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I was out enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon with my wife when my phone buzzed with a text from the boss telling me that it was all going to go down tomorrow (today) at work.  She asked if I wanted to call her back or if I just wanted an update early this morning.  I chose early this morning if only to live in denial for another few hours.  Although, I didn’t sleep very well last night.

If there’s good news, I did get to keep my job.  So I will continue to be able to pay for various dance activities for the foreseeable future.  But it comes at a high price.

One bit of bad news is that they have decided to reduce levels so my boss no longer has a position.  There are no perfect bosses because there are no perfect people but, for her flaws, she generally left me alone to do what I thought best and I appreciated that.  Now it means having to adjust to someone new after many, many years of working for one person.  I also have no idea who will be my boss when her term ends in a couple of months.  She doesn’t know either.

She said something particularly cryptic at the end of our meeting.  Something about the organization really needing my help over the next couple of years and something about how I’m in a good position.  And that it would become clear when the structure came out but she couldn’t say anything.  Honestly, that scares me a bit.  I’ve talked before about my lack of desire to climb up the ladder so I’m certainly hoping they aren’t planning on giving me more responsibility.

When you get unexpected invites to short meetings with people you don’t normally talk to, you start to figure out what is happening.  When others in the group don’t reporting getting similar emails, it becomes clearer.  So there were tears and fears first thing in the morning as people saw the invites.

There is no good way to handle these things but there were some atrocious things about this – especially for the people who had been with the company 20-30 years.  There were more tears all around as people came back from their notifications to be told to take the rest of the day off.  To give my group credit, they saw the state one person was in and they took her to a breakfast place just to sit with her and give her time to calm down.  The rest of the survivors joined later and we talked some more and I answered what I knew (which was very little).  Mostly, we just hung out with each other to offer what little support and comfort that we could and to maybe hold onto the past just a little bit longer.  There were hugs at the end for the two who were leaving and promises of support.

I’m sure it violated the basic rules of Management 101 where the people who are let go are to be kicked the curb like trash to be swept away leaving no trace behind.  But this is where my inner value kicked in and that it is wrong to treat people like disposable assets who can be discarded when the powers that be determine they no longer have value to the company.  As if a short little good bye is sufficient for the years and years that people have worked together and the friendships that have developed.  If that was wrong, then I don’t care about being right.  I care more about being a human person and trying to help out two fellow humans who were in pain.

In a bit of irony or perhaps perfect timing, there were facebook posts from the two people I had to let go six years ago.  One had a major development in her new business and the other was about to become a grandmother for the first time.  Perhaps a subtle sign that life goes on and losing a job is not the end of the world.  People can be resilient and deal with what life throws at them.  Or maybe this is just my survivors guilt trying to tell myself that all four are going to be OK.   (It may not matter but I should mention that I only knew about one because someone I am friends with linked to the post.  I used to be friends with her but she blamed me for the dismissal and the IM’s started to get nasty so I had to sever ties)

So now we start on a brave new world.  There was very little logic provided for the decisions or what projects will arrive to fill the void that currently exists.

I’m reminded of a scene from WarGames.  Won’t go deeply into the plot but Matthew Broderick plays a teen hacker who inadvertently ends up almost triggering a nuclear war.  In one scene, he has tracked down the original inventor of the system and is trying to convince that guy to tell everyone what is going on.  At some point, this guy tells Matthew that he’s planned ahead and picked a spot close to a target so it will be over for them soon and they be spared the horror of surviving.

Yes, it is a stretch to compare a business after a downsizing to what would be left of the earth after a full on nuclear exchange but the concept that those who were let go may end up in a better place is one I can relate to.  Putting this puzzle back together with fewer pieces is going to be a challenge.  I don’t know that I have the emotional energy to deal with what comes next.

Well, that’s enough darkness for now.  I do have a lesson today but I’m not sure how well it will go.  I’m not really good company right now.

2 comments

    1. Thank you. Unfortunately, this is the “new normal” when you work for a big company. They tell you how valuable employees are but still cut them loose at a moment’s notice.

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