8,.. 7,.. 6,.. 5,..

retirement clockOnly four more days remain of my career at The Company! It’s hard to believe (and not a little weird).  The only thing in my life that’s lasted longer than this career is my life itself.  I’ve never lived in one place anywhere near that long (and my romantic relationships have all been famously short).

This week we sort of edged part of the data chain into production this past week.  Supposedly the rest is being pushed there this weekend.  I’ve got four days to test in production, wrap up a career, and then I walk out the door!

As you might imagine, my mind is really not in the blogsphere right now!

partly cloudy

After a whole lot of gloomy, drizzly days, blue skies and summer finally came to visit in Minnesota (for a while)!

So this is just another Dear Diary entry.  I don’t have much to write about at the moment (which is usually how I lead off a long-winded diatribe about something).

I think I will here post something I was tempted to send to management at work. I decided that it was pointless (they would reject the message), and I don’t want to give anyone any excuse to mess with my retirement or pension.

(It would be just my luck to actually get fired in my last week, so I’ve shelved the plan to show up drunk every day this week.)

It's hard to believe it looked like this just two months ago!

It’s hard to believe it looked like this just two months ago!

There was a study that indicated that better mental health comes from defending yourself against accusations rather than internalizing or ignoring them. The study was about why men are more “defensive” in relationships than women are.  Turns out that being defensive seems to be the better choice mental health-wise.

This seems to connect to other studies that show how much humans need to be heard (by other humans).  (There is a form of alternate medicine therapy, called Re-evaluation Counseling, that focuses on allowing people to be heard.)

When it comes to the highly artificial environment of Corporate America, sensibility and rationality often aren’t part of the picture.  So, erring on the side of caution, I’ve decided to play my exit nicely and graciously (mostly).

But in the name of my own mental health, here’s the message I wanted to send (names changed to protect the guilty (and my pension)) [you’re totally forgiven if you want to skip down past this; actually, I wouldn’t blame you]:

I think you know I’m not happy with the current situation. (I don’t mean the last months or this data extraction thing. My issues are deeper and more systemic than that.)

I think the best way to put it is that it has become increasingly clear to me that I am not valued in Corporate IT. I bring to the table tools and experience many IT groups would salivate over, and I’ve always known I could earn more elsewhere. I’ve stayed at The Company in part from loyalty and love of the company. The last five years in IT have largely destroyed that and my morale to boot. In these last years, I’ve stayed from loyalty and because I had a decent work situation. If I left, who knows what work conditions I might end up with.

Fry 1The “open office” plan is a disaster from my point of view. I’ve tried, but it turns out to be impossible for me to work on focused tasks in such an environment. It’s not the noise. It’s all the movement in my visual field and having people in arm’s reach. Both these destroy my concentration. And then there is the lack of desk space for manuals and papers. Or the cheap VoiP phone with its low, low usability factors. This presents an unworkable situation for me.

It also presents a huge insult coming from a company that, for 33 years, has made it very clear my work space reflects my status. So, now, 50 years of technology experience, 40 years of software experience, 33 years of company experience, 9 years of corporate IT experience… and I’m sitting at a tiny desk next to people with a few year’s experience in one technology?

There could be no clearer statement as to my perceived value.

Fry 2Or I could cite the recent Pay for Performance statement I got. If I’m reading it correctly, The Company was paying me almost at the bottom of my scale, and now with a 2% raise is paying me in just the low end. Again, the message is clear: we don’t value you.

Or how about having my job eliminated twice in two years. Each time I was left to my own devices to try to find a new position in a company that had eliminated me. There was never a sense of, ‘how can we preserve a valued employee.’ In some ways, I felt my acceptance into this project group was somewhat grudging, as if I wasn’t really wanted, but since I was available anyway and no one better seemed to come along… okay, fine, come work here.

It’s odd how the people I do work for, my “clients,” seem to think I walk on water, but the people I work for rarely acknowledge it, and then often through gritted teeth. Years of performance appraisals have left no stone unturned in finding some little thing to fault me on, while rarely acknowledging the full extent of what I do day in and day out.

I could go on and on. I won’t. Suffice to say, message received. The Company’s perception of my value and mine differ. Considerably.

And so it is time to part ways.

It does seem a bit odd to me that not one person in management has even asked about any of this. Most of what I wrote above they already know; I’m not one who hides his emotions or opinions.

WillieIt’s depressing, but beyond that it’s weird that management has shown not one iota of interest in discussing any of this with me. That’s a pretty clear message, but I’m not sure if it means they really think that little of me or that they really are that stunningly incompetent at their sole task: managing their resources. All things considered, it’s probably both.

Ah, well,… four more days and this is all in my rear view mirror.

[To be honest, the one work problem I don’t have is that my bosses are assholes (it was just way easier to find images like that).  They may be incompetent at their jobs, but they are, almost universally, very nice (albeit often clueless) people.  In fact, one issue I have with IT is that it’s filled with very nice people… who aren’t very good at their jobs.  Give me a competent asshole any day!]

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

9 responses to “8,.. 7,.. 6,.. 5,..

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    Oh, lucky you. You will need a long time away to let the bitter edges soften. Far too many workers aren’t valued, ever. Not even as they’re walking out the door. It is their loss. They will suffer some pain from it and, likely, they know their failures at treating their staff better. It’s all such a horrendous place sometimes – corporate America – thank God for retirement. Do whatever you can in your retirement years to bring joy to your life!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      That’s definitely the plan: lots of joyful stuff! (Next summer, for example, I’d like to visit all 30 Major League baseball parks for a game.)

      I like to think they’ll actually miss me. My co-workers definitely will; I just wish it made a bigger impact on the ones I want to impact. I regret that I’ll leave some worker-types “in the lurch.” Fortunately, my work partner is also moving on (to another position in The Company), so at least my leaving won’t impact her.

      It’s weird how corporate life in America has become so crummy. I understand that in France taking your boss hostage is a regular practice. Not normally a big fan of the French, but they got that one right!

      Vive la révolution!!

      • Snoring Dog Studio

        Yeah, there’s quite a divide between employers and employees now. It’s crazy. When it comes to the workplace, I always like to recall my sister’s comment, “Expect ingratitude.”

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I was thinking about this driving home today. When you come down to it, that workers have rights at all, that workplaces are as decent as they are, is a fairly modern and progressive idea. You don’t have to go back too far in history to find horrific working conditions and outright slavery. The whole idea of “rights” is a civilized one!

        The pity is that it’s so counterproductive for all involved. How often does it take, showing how effective happy, involved workers are compared to unhappy, mistreated ones, before it sinks in that this is stupid behavior? Why is it so hard for people to learn clear lessons? (I make no claim to immunity. There are clear life lessons I seem unable to wrap my head around.)

      • Snoring Dog Studio

        Because you throw in the human element and you have stupid behavior. You can’t mechanize performance evaluation and you can’t filter out the ridiculous and petty assumptions that managers make.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        So true. It’s that human element that I wish could evolve more! (It’s that same element that gives me so much despair about the future of humanity. If we can master managing individuals how can we ever hope to manage a planet or a species?)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      And I think you’re right about needing a long time away to shake it all off. I’ve learned that a one-week vacation is just long enough to detune. It really takes two weeks to enjoy the time off in the second week. I’m thinking the first week of retirement… I’ll just sleep!

  • Jennifer S

    So my guess is that everyone recognizes you’re very good at what you do… but as you’re ready to move on saw very little reason to motivate with raises. You clearly don’t need praise or back pats the way new hires do… and your experience makes you a lot more expensive than a college kid. My guess is they were trying to be “smart” managers but failing to think of you as a human rather than a cog. Congrats on leaving!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      All true, or likely, except that the reason I’m moving on (“ready” isn’t quite the word) is the disparity between what I think I bring to the table and what I get back from The Company. No one has ever corrected me, saying, “No, you don’t actually bring as much as you think you do,” so the disparity seems valid. It seems, in part, based on the “philosophy” of Corporate IT… they believe they can rent the expertise they need from—metaphorically speaking—Walmart. They’re a major international company, and they feel it’s okay for their IT to be from “Walmart.”

      Even their cost analysis is false. They’ve lined up four people to take over some of what I did, and they’d really need more people (and better, more experienced, people) to fully step up to what I did. So they aren’t saving any money at all. Sadly, there really is nothing “smart” about the situation. (I had a retirement Happy Hour thing last Wednesday. One of the guys who showed up announced to all, “I just want to say again that IT has completely mishandled ‘Wyrd’ here!” It’s always nice to realize it’s not just me that thinks so.

      Ah, well, it is what it is. I’m about to take off for my last day. Basically just showing up to drop off my company laptop and badge!

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