Two Faces

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I really hadn’t planned on doing another rant about work but then I went to a meeting today and it has seriously put me in a bad place. As a manager, I’ve often felt like I reside in both worlds (employee, manager) but truly don’t belong to either one. Could be that stereotypical INFP thing where we never truly feel like we fit in. Anyway, there are things I heard today that I really can’t talk about with anyone at work.

I continue to say that layoffs are a natural consequence of working for a big company. Or maybe even for a medium sized company. And I’m not sure if there is a “right” way to handle things but there sure are a lot of wrong ways. Or at least ways that just seem so wrong to me. When you are talking about people’s lives, it just seems like you owe them some amount of respect, decency and honesty.

Earlier last week, the higher ups had one of their little circle discussions with the “little people”. They heard the same message that we all heard at the big meeting. Stuff is coming but we don’t know when or how many.

Today, they have a meeting of us manager types and suddenly they are talking about plans and next steps. The HR flack is talking about setting up meetings with all of us so we can force rank our people to make the firings easier. I mean if you need to take 2 people out of this group, just lop off the bottom two. If they are starting these discussions now, then things are much farther along than they’ve said and they do know when things are going to happen. They just aren’t revealing that information right now.

And if they are being dishonest about that, then I’m sure they also already know how many people need to go. So all the happy talk we heard about needing to gather input about how to right size the organization was all just a bunch of BS. I’m sure there are all kinds of HR reasons for doing it this way but it just feels so wrong to be blowing smoke up people’s behinds when you are about to make decisions that will impact their lives.

In fact, the HR flack then gave us a little speech about being very careful about what we say. Because, as he said, people are going to try and figure out what is going on (no s**t) and we need to keep the organization stable. In other words, you want to be in control of telling people they are gone. You don’t want them flying the coop first. And I know why that is because the fear is that the best people will leave. So you keep everyone in the dark and then prune the ones you want.

At the same time, they are still forming these little teams to “shape our future”. And one of the higher ups was all in cheerleader mode about how exciting this was and how it would be such a great opportunity. Well except for the people who won’t be here anymore. Sucks to be them but they weren’t part of the future so they don’t count anyway. The other two higher ups have pretty much gone cold. The cuts must happen. It is for the good of the business. There is lip service about how it is going to impact people but they don’t seem to care. I suppose this could just be a brave act but I think it is easier for some to partition things like this. And that the future of the company is more important then the lives of people who are discarded along the way. Thanks for all your contributions but your services are no longer required. There is no longer a place for you so we have to kick you off the bus while we ride off into the bright future. And we won’t even look back.

My intuition is telling me that I’m going to be one of the ones chopped. They ran out a lot of the older managers at the last downsizing and so they promoted a bunch of eager types and it doesn’t leave a lot of people they can clean out this time. You wouldn’t promote someone a couple of years ago and then turn around and get rid of them – admitting you made a mistake the first time. And it is certainly true that we work on the legacy products (which still make most of the money) and that’s where the whacks are going to come. I’ve dodged several reorgs over the years but this time my number is probably up.

But, then again, I suspect this won’t be the last. This could become a two year cycle and I’d hate to keep going through this because we don’t seem to do it very well. Screw it. I’ll stay till they tell me I’m not needed and then I’ll figure it out.

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