It was a very difficult day at the workplace this morning. Without an inkling of leakage indicating something was developing, we were called to a meeting and advised that several hundred, maybe more, people from our division had lost their jobs in a "workplace adjustment." I couldn't help managing a grin at that verbiage - "workplace adjustment", as if just a little grab 'n wiggle and it'd all be back in place, working again...
But it wasn't to be. Some of the most experienced, knowledgeable, committed people in our group, and with other teams within our business line, had been let go. Not in 30 or 60 days. NOW. As in "clean out your desk and leave" now. The range in service was from 1 to 35 years. Most were suervisors and managers. Then came the e - mails , some expressing uncertainty and anguish, some just not believing the severity of the cuts. The business hasn't done well since an operational change 2 years ago, as it changed leadership (I use that word in only the strictest organizational sense) from a tightly run and controlled profitable entity to a "let's meet so we can decide how long to hold off making a decision" kind of management. Management by CYA. It was especially troubling to watch as our business was placed in the trust of people who had little or no experience with our line of business, so they could ply their way of doing things onto those of us who'd spent their professional lives managing our kind of work. As losses increased, becoming unmanageable, they took the coward's way out - they removed people who ran the business when it had been profitable, instead of simply cleaning the entire top two levels of management, those who'd created the business plans for we on the short end to try to implement.
The third quarter report squarely pointed at us (this is public knowledge) as suffering our business's 4th consecutive quarter of staggering losses due to poor credit quality and unspecified dubious business decisions. The Company as a whole is well run and in good shape. Our line, however, is a glaring zit on the nose of the blonde prom queen, and stands out in quarterlies and annual reports as prominently as Big Ben would in my backyard.
The tragedy of this is that good people...no, make that great people were unceremoniously axed because of the inability of people 3,000 miles away and who knew zilch about this business to place the blame right where it should have been - that face in their mirrors. Strategically, it's an incredibly risky way to enter the 4th quarter. And because the wrong people were let go, the same people planning the future of our business are still there, still clueless, still coming up with such dramatic and meaningful decisions as OK'ing a "jeans week" at work! That sure takes the sting out of it, eh?
I'm not mentioning the company I work for, but many who read this know me and know what I'm talking about. Still, although this information was broadcast on a local news radio station today (meaning: it's not proprietary), I could be in trouble for voicing my opinion. But it's put my weekend under a gloomy, dim light. Those of us who remained were speaking to each other of the guilt we feel at being selected to remain on the job. While grateful to be spared this time around, there's not the secure feel to the office as there once was. We're not unique there, not by a longshot. But our guilt remains. Our friends are out there, looking for work after decades of loyalty.
I'd planned to try to do Mt. Diablo's North Peak Saturday, but now may be stuck at the office trying to take up the slack left by today's news. Maybe I'll get out, and I hope my mood will improve. But for now, I don't feel much like hiking. It's been emotional. It's been sad. We'll go on now for the wrong reasons - for fear of suffering the same fate, rather than the excitement and challenge that once dominated our team. Oh, well...at least we have two more days of "jeans week."