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.

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?

Management styles

It’s no secret that work is a bit of a challenge at the moment. It doesn’t help that the boss has told several people who work for me that he’s ‘piling on the pressure to see who jumps first’. I had a major meltdown again last week. Haven’t had a melt down so far this week, but it is only Monday. I’ve come to the conclusion today that even if I resign tomorrow, I’ll not be the first. We’ve lost someone already. One. Of. The. Good. Guys.

It’s the risk you take with that particular ‘management style’ (the pressure style, the weed out the weak style). The risk is that you lose the good guys and get stuck with the ones you’d really hoped had gone. The question is…what am I? One of the good ones or one of the ones he wants to keep?

Am I paranoid? Can I really get 2 + 2 = 4? Or am I just imagining the worst? And seeing the very worst there is?

Who knows!

I’ll move away now and take my conspiracy theories to bed with me. Night night.

 

 

Working hours

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few months – in my team specifically. When 5:30pm comes along, there’s no move to tidy desks, pack bags and put on coats. It’s become the norm to stay at the desk beyond 5:30pm. Most of the team are at the desk before 9:00am. The pressure we all feel from the business to deliver more and more is immense.

It can’t go on.

My worry, as ever, is that people give so much to the business that they become ill, things slip and then they leave because they can’t carry on. The worst fear for me, is actually one of redundancy. Our new CMO started this week and we are all waiting for changes to be announced. I don’t want anyone in my team to be putting  in 120% and giving too much of their personal time to then be faced with ‘your position is no longer needed’. For whatever reason.

Why do we, as professionals, feel the need to give over and above our contracted hours? I’m contracted for 7.5 hrs a day and while I expect a little bit of flexibility to occasionally do 7 hrs (because of a doctor or dentist appointment) I’m finding it more and more incredulous that we’re doing more than 9 hrs a day on a regular basis.

But, does anyone ask us to do this? No. We do it because we feel we have to.

I often ask ‘what would happen if we went home on time’? (As many other people do)? And, I think we’d adjust. The deadlines would be moved to accommodate this, and there’d be less stressed people running around. Well, that’s the theory.

For the past couple of weeks I have been shocked at how much I had under estimated the stress that would be caused by having a new boss on board. Stress in me manifests as health issues and insomnia. I watch and see similar things in my team.

I don’t like it, but feel powerless to do anything other than listen to them, support them where I can and be understanding.

 

Credit crunch?

A while ago, I blogged about there being lots of companies using the credit crunch as a convenient excuse for getting away with a lot of crazy policies…well, here we are in March 2010 and I’m starting to see the same things happen.

While I understand companies have to protect themselves and to remove the ‘dead wood’ from the company, right now it’s all coming across as penny pinching. My company isn’t making anyone redundant, before people get the wrong idea, but it’s putting shareholders and cost-cutting above the people that help make it a success.

I recently met with someone who’s philosophy for running his own business is along the lines of keeping employees happy will lead to happy customers and then in turn keep the shareholders happy.  It was refreshing to hear, but I have to ask how many companies employee a similar style? Where I am now the shareholder is king. The pressure across the company at the moment (to deliver more for less) is enormous. The pace is unbelievable. Our bonus is tied to the number – and not to our individual performance.

Is my company struggling? Did it miss numbers?

No.

Recession bites

My company is actually doing quite well during the recession. The sales guys still bleat on about pipeline, leads and not getting enough from marketing, but we know the drill with all sales people, don’t we??

“Pick up the phone? Who? Me? I don’t do follow ups.” (they’re all the same wherever you go).

Our half year results got the financial analysts excited – our share price has rocketed and the CFO is talking positive numbers all the time – externally. To the outside world, it’s  positive result for a British company during the “worst recession” in 60 years…inside the company however, it’s not all rosy.

170 people are at risk of redundancy (or have already gone depending on where in the world they are located). All social functions have been cancelled. And there’s a sense of unease across the entire company.

The decisions and selection criteria for those at risk are not yet final. Consultation is still in progress. I watch and wait as I see good people go through this process – hopeful they will get a stay of execution based on their performance and feedback from others. At the same time, I hope that the non-productive, obstructive, rude and aggressive people will go. Some of the selections to date make no sense.

One of the things it has highlighted is that no matter how senior you are, how hard you work, how much of your personal time you devote to work (that’s over and above your contracted time), when cuts are to be made, you’re just a number. And, it’s a numbers game.

So, tomorrow when you think to yourself ‘I’ll just finish this document/project/report’ and it means you don’t get out at a reasonable time – remember that’s time you can’t claim back and the more ‘overtime’ you put in (and don ‘t get paid for) the more you devalue your skills and abilities. You will never get that time back. So go home, see your kids, play golf, go to the gym or just relax with your loved ones.

It’s a numbers game, and you are a number. Sadly.

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?