Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vital Values

My company has gone through a lot of transition in the last few months. It started with the higher ups deciding to completely reorganize the structure of our company. In fact, the structure that they're now going with is a pretty bad idea. A lot of textbooks talk about how their "new" approach is doomed for failure and wastes plenty of resources. It creates multiple positions for what should be just one job. Their design inherently builds in conflict.

Then they closed our facility - which was the top producer and top quality branch in the country (I'm not kidding) - only because it's lease was coming due. There was no other reason.

Then they realized that it might be a bad idea for people like me to walk - so they kept some of us around. Only, after 6 months since they made the announcement to close our facility, they don't know where they're going to put us.

They decided to cancel Christmas lunches, dinners, and basically any fun activities that we used to have. They downgraded the coffee and stopped providing coffee cups. They eliminated swizzle sticks (to mix your coffee with) and have started encouraging employees to bring their own pens. My boss told me that I can't move up without moving to our headquarters and that even then, I'd be passed over for consideration because (with the recent closing of our branch) I'm now a "satellite employee."

What fun, optimism, and good cheer existed a few years ago when I joined this group is now gone. And that makes me sad.

Today, they had a corporate wide "live" meeting (which means that the headquarters people got to have food catered in for their lunch and meet with the key decision makers in person and we got to call in hearing them belch and remark about the food) discussing our annual re-commitment to key values.

Every year, each employee of my global company has to sign on, disclose any conflicts of interest, re-read the company policy to uphold the values that we're supposed to follow, and then take a quiz based upon what we've learned. It's a joke, but it's one that many big companies do.

So this year, this meeting was called because the Presidents of the company wanted to make sure that we knew how important (vital even) the values of our company are. The 7 minute video, which was streamed so badly that we, the redheaded stepchildren of the company, got to see a frame update every 8 seconds or so, had a high enough production budget to save at least a few more people's jobs for the next year. It was hard for me to sit there, listening to how important the "right people are in the right jobs" when I realize that this company seems to be founded on horrible decisions.

And while I'm dialed in to watch this presentation, I'm hearing my other line beep - I missed 15 phone calls from customers to hear my company blow smoke up my butt about how we all need to do the "right thing." Those 15 calls need to be returned, even still. My boss instructed us to work through our lunch to get the work done.

Here's an idea - how about instead of you wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on a film clip, you invest in another peon like me to help do the job that takes 13 hours to complete in a day but you're asking me to do in 8.

The clincher of it all was when they had a "real world" example of inappropriate values in the workplace. They had been alluding to this during the whole presentation with phrases like "We took feedback from past years and we know some of the big issues you're facing with conflicts of interest and pressuring in the workplace. We're going to show a great example of this later." I was expecting to hear about some actual examples of the crap I'm consistently pressured to do (which is against company policy and yet high up managers are the ones doing the pressuring).

Want to know what the biggest issue we have to face, according to our "leadership" team?

Girl Scout Cookie sales.

I'm not kidding. They had a workplace exercise where they had to caution us all on asking for donations to our own charities that only benefit the employee or cause. They specifically named the Girl Scouts as being an inappropriate organization.

So then they opened it up to questions and here's what I learned.

  • Sign up sheets for cookies or other fundraisers are inappropriate - even if you don't post it in a public place. They said it puts too much pressure on people to donate their time and resources that they may not have.
  • It is not appropriate to use any company resources for such charity requests. If you're going to have a sign-up on your person, please make sure to use your own pen (Hello! Who do you think is buying them these days?) not the company's pen.
  • The question was asked if it would be better to ask people individually at their desks to contribute. And I shit you not - the answer came back with as "Yes. As long as it's done during your lunch break." So just to be clear, a piece of paper in a lunchroom is too much pressure but having a one on one conversation with a co-worker where they're asking you to help is perfectly fine.
  • Another question was asked, "Is it okay to sell Avon to people?" and the person holding the meeting said "Yes, but not on company time." Alright, this one I get...but it frustrates me because it helps me see that someone in that meeting DIDN'T know the answer to that question and had to ask it.

In short: I work for AND WITH a bunch of friggin' morons.

Just so you know, I spent my time during the call applying for jobs on It was, in this peon's opinion, a MUCH better use of my company's resources anyway.

Monday, May 03, 2010

They say it's your birthday...

Today is my birthday. I'm 33 years old.

You should know that I love the number 3, so this year is going to be my best year. I can feel it.

How do I plan to celebrate? By going to a Weight Watchers meeting, taking my dog for a long walk, and having leftovers with a glass of wine.

But you know what? In my mind, it's perfect. I had a great weekend - spent with someone that I love dearly and who loves me back. Yesterday, I had a massage that eased my aching back (seriously - this past week it has been HORRIBLE). I had a delightful sushi dinner on Saturday night and got to watch episodes of Arrested Development last night - all with the best companion ever.

The leftovers I'm having are DE-LICIOUS and it makes me feel good that I'm not wasting food. The wine that I'll be enjoying reminds me of my best friend (the wine that it's from is from a vineyard close to her house). The cuddles that I'll get at the end of the night will help me feel as loved as I truly am.

So this birthday? It may be the best ever.

Either that, or I'm getting too old to remember a better one.