Monday, February 23, 2009

So the company that I work for just fired our director of support. We're a a small company under 80 employees, and he had been with the company virtually from the start. So it was a big impact to all of us to lose our colleague. The manager of our department said that it was mentioned that the Support Director was seen as "too nice of a guy".

This seems to have made quite an impact on my manager, because he went from a guy who, while, he had his moods, could be reasoned with, to a guy with a hammer who thinks he surrounded by nails. Now there is no middle ground. Anything that he doesn't understand or agree with at first glance... Bam, Bam, Bam! No questions, no discussions and certainly no effort to understand what should be obvious on his part.

Perhaps this attitude makes him feel more secure, because now he certainly couldn't be rightfully accused of being a nice guy. Of course, the effect of this is a miserable department whose staff is becoming increasingly disconnected, defensive and far less effective than they were before. Resentment is rising due to the demand for more and more hours, and the decreased appreciation and respect for the time and effort we are putting in.

It has basically destroyed a vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic team. I believe that it's only a matter of time before the back-biting and finger pointing begins as people start fighting for a secure position in an increasingly insecure company.

The sad thing is our company is doing surprisingly well. In a time when our country is in near economic collapse, our little startup company is still gaining ground and barring an out and out depression, may even become profitable in a year. That is if we don't self destruct from the unwarranted negativity heaped on the workers by management.

I guess in these times, the one thing that companies stop worrying about is the motivation and morale of their employees. Perhaps they believe that it's easier to replace us with new employees that are so grateful just to be employed that they don't care about not being treated with simple professional respect.

Not that this company could ever be accused of treating it's employees well. Even with our surprising market success and revenues, our Christmas bonus was a sweatshirt with the company logo. (I ask you, who needs a sweatshirt in a sweat shop?). And now that engineering is told that unless we work evenings and weekends for the next year, we will be laid off, they stopped even furnishing cereal and frozen burritos for the 15 plus people that are expected to practically live here. Personally, I think at least Prozac and Ritalin dispensers should be provided.

Now while the rest of the country maybe new to this environment where employees are expected to be happy slaves spending their lives increasing the wealth of the company board members, while experiencing a rapidly decreasing return on their time and sweat. We, in the tech industry, are all too familiar with this change of circumstance. We just went through it in the 2001 tech crash. Here we are again.

I'm sure that a lot of people would tell me to just be grateful that I have a job. And I am, in fact grateful that fate has seen fit to keep me employed so far. I went through a year and a half of sheer terror and agony after being laid off during the 2001 tech crash. Financially, I lost everything, 401K, stocks, my house... So I don't have to be reminded how bad it can get.

But that doesn't give employers and their management the right to trample and degrade their employees. And I am certain that ultimately it will not benefit the bottom line.

There is another thing that my manager should consider... besides our support director being a "nice guy", our manager also credits his firing as a result of his people not working at optimum efficiency. Ironically, while the support director is gone, his people are still here.

My boss ought to consider that carefully next time he feels the urge to slam one of us over the head with his hammer! We have a pretty effective hammer is our arsenal as well. A little passive-aggressiveness on our part could take him out!

God, I hate Mondays.

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