To blog or not to blog…

I wrote this a while ago…

 

All change…again

It’s been a turbulent year. I’ve decided that 2011 is turning into one of those years that we’ll need to either grab by the short and curlies or just forget. Which is it to be?

 

Work has dominated so far this year – predominantly the roller coaster ride that is my company. In October I got a new boss. It took the best part of six months to adjust to his up and down/hot & cold manner. He’s brash, he’s pushy, he’s demanding and more… But in the past few weeks I’ve come to understand just how much he’s fought for the team and to take away all of the road blocks that hamper the day to day running of the department.

 

It’s taken a lot of time for the team to get used to him and to start to buy into what he’s been trying to do, but they were getting there. It was starting to feel like we were achieving an awful lot in a short space of time.

 

And, we had a leader. Someone fighting for us at the highest level. In with the other big cheeses – fighting the politics and shouting about the things we need to get on with an achieve.

 

First, there was the ‘potential acquisition’ notification. Then, the CEO was let go. And, most recently my boss was let go. Ooooomph!

 

It was such a shock to us all. There were many unhappy people discussing how it would mean to them and what would happen next. Our ‘new CEO’ (our Chairman became the Exec Chairman) announced we would all report to sales management. Such a step in the wrong direction.

 

So, the roller coaster starts running even faster than it did before.

Next…?

Work is going from bad to worse at the moment. With questions over brand, CMS, ‘best-of-breed’ agencies and upheaval, it’s no surprise that morale has reached an all time low. We’ve had two resignations in the past week. Correction – I have had two resignations in the past week. Two of my longest serving (longest suffering) team members are stepping down from the role and from the company.

It’s clear they’ve both had enough of the constant change and upheaval and that both are looking for new challenges. It’s clear that everything is different already. But, what of the company? What will be done to rebuild? Anything? Everything? Nothing?

I shall miss my team – as it once was. These changes are as a result of decisions made back to February. Changes were set in motion at that point, and here we are. This week’s news is a direct result. My question (rhetorical): why am I still here? what is there for me? where does this mis-guided sense of loyalty come from? what’s next? will I ever find the elusive ‘work/life balance’? and, losing my team members…what’s next?

Answers on a postcard, please.

The Boss

I use the term the boss to represent the person we report to at work. I’m now on my fifth boss at my current company – the second this year. I like the rest of my team wonder when this person will show us the way forward. When this person will lead. Today, I find myself doubting that that will happen.

We go to work every day. We offer a certain amount of time to our companies in return for a wage. We build relationships with the people we work with. We talk, we discuss, we argue, we debate and we do what’s necessary to get our jobs done. And then, at 5:30 we go home. But it doesn’t actually end there. Often, we work late because we don’t want to let anyone down. Because we want to do a good job. Because there’s a tight deadline and it’s an important task. We don’t get paid to do it. We do it through our good will. On the promise that our company will take care of us, treat us well and show respect.

In recent weeks,  my company has used up the good will of most of my department. It has used up the good will. It has ground people’s humour down. And it’s squashed the life out of some people. Why do companies (or the people running them) think this is good or acceptable?

Today, I took several (blows) pieces of ‘bad’ news about my ‘role’ and what I do for the company. Here we go again. The question is, can I find any tiny bits of good will to see me through? Or…what is the or?

Restructuring…again

A couple of weeks ago my company issued its IMS. In the statement we missed our EBITDA contribution by a few percent. In the same announcement we also announced a restructuring charge of between $14-18m. It sent shivers down the spines of all colleagues that have lived through such ‘restructures’ in the past.

On Friday it began.

Mid afternoon the whispers began in the office. The Skype messages went back and forth between colleagues worried for each other. And the rumours about office closures, and numbers of lay-offs spread like wild fire.

Today, I took a phone call asking whether the restructure had happened in our office, that it was rumoured to be happening today.

Unfortunately, it didn’t. I say unfortunately, not because I’m being flippant, but because I’m already mopping up the tears of my team members who are worried, no, distraught at the impending changes and over losing their jobs. I’m in no different position. I face being put ‘at risk’, just like all of them. None of us know. None of us have any clues. It’s the not knowing that is upsetting people. People add one and one and make three.

The atmosphere sucks. It’s oppressive in the office. It’s difficult to concentrate. It’s like waiting for the guillotine to fall.

Yuck.

So, here I sit, not looking forward to tomorrow. But, I’ll get up in the morning. I’ll put my face on and I’ll drive the 40 miles to the office. You never know, I might be home again soon. Then again, maybe it’ll be tomorrow evening before I’m back.

Internet shopping

I do it quite a lot. Groceries, appliances, DVDs, clothes, gifts and shoes…and, and, and…

This week I’ve had the ultimate disappointment. First, I placed an order with a big UK retailer – I won’t name and shame them, well, not quite yet. They cancelled part of my order the very next day. Without explanation. Then, in what looked like a positive move, I got a text offering me three options for delivery. I chose Monday (today, 12th July) – and was informed that delivery would be between 7am and 7pm. I worked from home. At 2pm I got another text to say that delivery would arrive between 5 and 7pm.

9pm arrived. The doorbell rang. One woman, one van, one dog and no apology. It took three of us to carry the item into the house. She left. We unpacked it. It’s damaged and doesn’t work.

Home Delivery Network is appalling.

We’ll see what the retailer has to say tomorrow when I reach customer services. Then, I’ll name and shame.

I want them to come pick up the item, and provide me with a full refund, plus an day’s consultancy fee for the fact I was at home today. That will be £1500.00 please (well, it turned into a 14 hour day – so let’s be realistic about it).

Exercise and the work/life balance

Since the recent changes at work, and since the beginning of the year (when I stepped in to take over while my boss recovered from a serious illness), I’ve let my gym membership go. I struggle to get home before 8pm most nights, and as I leave the house before 7.30am I’ve been finding it hard to strike a balance. So…I now car pool. Yup. Me. I car pool two days a week with a friend. And, it’s making a difference. I leave the office at 6pm latest.

So what about the exercise?

Well, I’m thinking about turning the nursery room (ugh) into a room that has the sole purpose of housing a treadmill or a cross trainer. Good move? Not sure, but it’s got to be better than just not getting to the gym, right? Now all I need are recommendations for a decent piece of kit and then I’ll get the room ready and fit for purpose.

Flexibility

We put it on our CVs. We talk about being flexible all the time. And, we insist that we’ll manage change as it happens. But what does it actually mean?

At what point do we accept that change is normal? That there is no stability? Do we expect too much?

When, as an employee, is it right to question the constant change, and what are the risks in doing so?

I don’t have the answers. I just see what happens when people say no, or when they offer up a different opinion.

In an environment where flexible and adaptable to change are standard contract terms, it’s not surprising to learn that there’s another restructure on the cards.

I, like those working for me, wait in the wings asking ‘What does this mean for me’.

A warning

My parents are not particularly internet-savvy, so when my mum asks for help to insure the cars at home, I usually do the GoCompare.com thing for them. This time, mum said to go with the cheapest quote which included breakdown insurance. Mistake. The quote was for One Call insurance. OMG!

For those of you reading this, please note this company is NOT worth wasting your energy or your fingernails on your keyboard.

The website is a con. You get a quote, you agree to it, fill out your payment details and the next screen commits you to an extra fee, that you can’t ‘escape’ from without paying the extra. You complain and hey presto they don’t respond. You can’t get anyone on the phone, they don’t respond to email and you can’t get any response via the mail.

Then out of the blue (15 days after the initial contact,er, yes, one day past the legal cooling off period) they send you an email to say your documents are on the way…but you’ll have to pay extra for printed versions.

Try to cancel and they charge you the extra fee that they lumped on anyway!

Crooks!

Orange Broadband, No Thanks

My broadband service has gone down. The computer is connected to the router and the router shows ADSL connection, but no Internet. My ISP is Orange. I have been happy (ish) with the service, if you don’t count the issues with the LiveBox – until now.

I called customer services and reached Angela – a very nice, polite, but heavily accented lady in India. 40 minutes later we have battled through the script and got to the point where Angela decided it was not an Orange issue, but a problem with my Linksys router. “before we can test the line, we need you to call Cisco about a possible fault with your router”. Hmmm. My boyfriend is a geek. We know it is not a router issue. But I hung up, waited 10 mins, had a cup of tea and called back.

Round two:
Hassan (apologies, didn’t actually understand the name of) the new cust servs guy. 40 mins later, again we have been through the script (despite my insistance that Angela told me to phone requesting a line test) and he tells me to call Cisco…when I said been there, done that he said (frantically flicking pages) “then we need you to call Microsoft, it is a broswer problem”.

Despite my anger I giggled at his lack of knowledge. I explained I knew it was nothing to do with the browser on my pc, iPod Touch, laptop or Wii. Finally, after over an hour, he tested the line. And, you’ll never guess, there’s a fault on the line. all that time to tell me something I already know.

Apparently an engineer will call me on Saturday. What use is that to me? Two laptops, a pc, a Wii, the Touch, AirportExpress (two of them) are all without connectivity. Aaaaaaaaargh.

Time to switch? Perhaps. I read comments on Orange Problems and now I wonder if Saturday was a good solution/suggestion from Orange. We shall see. Thank goodness for the end of my contract!

Weekends away

With February being a bit busy, I’m really conscious that my boyfriend and I need to get away. We need to get away from home, from work, from our day-to-day lives. We really need to spend some time just being us. A couple. No homes to tidy, no issues to sort, no outside pressure – just us, a weekend away and no worries. But, it’s just not happening. What with one thing and another going on we’re just not getting away.

I have looked at travel though – in the UK, to Paris, Prague, Milan, Florence, Rome, Madrid and Barcelona. I did also check New York and let’s just say that I’m not earning quite enough to justify that one, just now. But, what surprised me was we can have a weekend in Barcelona, including flights (but, excluding meals) for about the same price as a weekend in the UK at a decent hotel. Can someone explain to me how that works?

We have invitations to visit from friends all over the world, but with so much uncertainty over jobs, money, and the overall economy, it’s very difficult to make plans.

I would very much like to get to see various friends in Cairo, Alicante, Prague, Zurich, near Colorado Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, Boston, Cape Cod, New Zealand and Australia…not to mention the friends in the UK we never get time to see.

How does life get so busy that we don’t get to catch up when we want to?