We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, September 30. 2014
2 years of unemployment over a 20 year period isn't too bad when you consider how many people are still looking for steady work since 2008. I have a number of friends who have left this industry and entered new careers. It's tough to start over when you're past the age of 45. Which is why I'm glad I'm working and complain very little about my job. I make less than others with similar experience to mine, mainly because each bout of unemployment forced me to rearrange my salary needs and alter spending patterns. This is unfortunate, now that I have 2 kids in college, but it's good, too. I'm less likely to face the ax again since my experience comes cheap.
But I haven't been around Maggie's lately, and it's because I've had issues I'd classify as "First World Problems" over the past few months, which are better than the alternative "Big Problems". But it's worth sharing one in particular because it may help others with perspective, and it sure helps me with dealing with it.
I was recently up for a promotion. I had every reason to believe the job was mine. The EVP consulted with me on the job description, I developed the job with her, my interviews all went great, the EVP told me I was the top candidate. Yet, when the decision came down, it went to a very nice young lady from a department completely unrelated to what I do for a living. I have spent the past few months teaching the job to a person 17 years younger than me. It's not a salary issue, either. We were at equivalent levels, and she isn't making less than they'd have paid me.
After the decision, I was casting about for answers, so I requested time to speak with the EVP.
I realized attitude was everything. I couldn't walk in, complain, moan, whine and tell her she made a mistake. Instead I walked in, told her I'm on board, the department will continue to outperform, and whatever I could do to make it better, I'd do. Rather than ask her why I didn't get the job, I asked what I could do to improve so I would get the next promotion. Her answers were very concise and clear, there was nothing that hadn't been discussed in a job review, but none were distinctly obvious reasons to give the job to someone with so much less experience. That's just fate. I have to accept my circumstances and move forward.
What was critical was how I approached the questions. I made it about my desire to give what is best to the company and the value I could bring to make the company better, rather than focusing on myself and what I didn't get.
In today's economy little nuances like this are important. I have a job. It pays well. I enjoy it, and it's with a good company and with good people. I've had many worse jobs. I've only had one or two better ones. Rather than be disgruntled, I would position myself as a valuable and loyal employee who will generate returns for the company.
The shift in departments has meant I've had to refocus on some new responsibilities over the past few months, and I've had to help generate goodwill with a person with whom I was unfamiliar. The time spent indicates things are good, and I have every reason to believe it's because that I didn't let my initial disappointment get the better of me. Going to the gym and working out for 3 hours right after I got the information helped, too.
Will I get a promotion at some point? I have no idea. A co-worker who also came from another organization in the last three years, as I did, recently said "pedigree is everything here." I agree. My new boss has worked here since she left college. She knows many people because her previous job gave her contact to many more departments than I interact with. That kind of recognition pays off more than vast experience, at times. The same co-worker suggested my boss could be good for me, since she might help me 'get' the pedigree I need. Maybe, if that's what counts, she will.
As I teach my boys, bitching and moaning about what you didn't get or what you wanted is counter-productive. Besides, nobody wants to read, or hear me, as I lambaste my EVP and my new boss. Mainly because neither deserve it, and both are decent people. More importantly, that is boring and self-serving. Even in disappointment there are lessons which can help move us to be better than we were. I figure I learned a few.
This is new territory for me. Typically I jumped ship when I didn't get a promotion I thought I deserved. But maybe I can learn something from my new boss. Even if I can't, I will exhibit behaviors which prove I'm not an old-school type employee some might infer I appear to be. I know I'm more accommodating of new ideas and trends than the younger people on our team. We'll see if it counts for something. I have every reason to believe it will.
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Very good post. Once the business makes a decision, its done. Look like you love it, will do anything to support it and crank your job search quietly into gear. Just as their decision really is not your business, your decision to seek another job is not theirs. Stay friends, stay positive and valuable, but start looking.
Once on this site I saw a comment quoting a CEO whose I name I can't recall as saying every single person into days economy should always be looking for another job. That's where salary increases and promotions come from.
A few observations:
First, I agree with your attitude. Things could always be worse, i.e. you could have received the promotion and the next week be diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Someone once hypothesized that the reason leftists tend to think we need to make things fair here on Earth is because leftists tend (as a group) to be less religious than those on the right and therefore don't believe that God will sort things out in an afterlife.
Second, I also agree that the quest for "diversity" - which is really code for quotas or reverse discrimination - has resulted in many less qualified "minorities" not only being hired or promoted over more qualified white males, but overly content in their jobs as they recognize that keeping their job has more to do with their minority status than with their performance. Not only is this discouraging on an individual basis, it is catastrophic in terms of our national productivity.
Finally, if the lady who was promoted instead of you recognizes that a diversity quota got her promoted instead of a more qualified candidate, she may very well consciously or subconsciously desire to remove you from the picture as she feels some level of guilt for what happened or worry about competition.
"Typically I jumped ship when I didn't get a promotion I thought I deserved."
Don't understand why you have changed. Of course, you need to keep doing your best, and keep a good attitude, but you should still move on if you are unable to move up. Unless, of course, you are completely happy where you are and really didn't want the promotion anyway.
I went to college, got a business degree, never used it in a traditional way.
I worked jobs most won't do today, sanding autos for painting, moving irrigation pipe, baling & stacking hay. This was done for 40 years AFTER college. I also did more "meaningful jobs" but I always did what I wanted & lived where I wanted. Some of those "less desirable" jobs were done within a decade of my retiring.
I have a very comfortable retirement & could be considered somewhat wealthy.
This is precisely why I wrote the post.
It's taken me quite some time to reach a point of comfort doing what I'm doing and just being happy with it. I've always wanted to be further ahead, and I've had opportunities to move up at other places. I have at some. The problem is that when you move up, there's someone gunning to take you down, too. Sometimes by any means necessary.
I love business, and I love doing what I do, but the cutthroat nature of some organizations was surprising to me when I reached elevated positions. Part of the reason for some of my setbacks were carefully planned subterfuges on the part of idiotic people, which took me by surprise. Sometimes they even employed nasty tactics which I won't mention here.
A comment above mentions diversity, and while there was probably an element of that involved in my being passed over (the EVP has an all female staff under her), I don't think that's the case. However, unethical application of gender discrimination laws has played a role in my being ousted at least once before.
Stan wonders why I have changed. The main reason is that in this economy if I want to continue doing what I'm doing at the pay level I'm at, I need to change. Changing jobs isn't that easy anymore. 12 years ago, I might have done it, maybe even 8 years ago. The last 7 years have not been a healthy environment for maintaining a "get ahead at all costs" attitude unless you're ridiculously cutthroat or a sycophant.
Some people consider these symptoms of our business (read captalist) culture. I don't. I see them as symptoms of over regulation and the impact of media censorship of society's mores and values. If you don't hew to the socially acceptable line, then you can't fit into the organization. If you can't abide by the regulations, however misguided and stupid, then you can't fit into the organization.
We are a nation that has been crafted for, and is slowly being taken over by, Millenials. Insipid and self-serving, but with the veneer of "social responsibility". Communists posing as capitalists.
As a result, I am better off altering my attitude and hewing to the company line. At least I'll still have my job. It's unlikely changing jobs would give me any improved opportunity to move up - many companies handle this stuff in a far worse fashion.
Doing this doesn't alter my value structure at all, so it's not as if it's a stretch for me. It's just a change in outlook which is the result of three factors. Age, the economy, and shifting social expectations.
I have tremendous respect for people like you, the comment reminds me of Mike Rowe, who I follow closely. I have to admit I'm not sure what you mean by "Meaningful job", though. I think any job is meaningful, particularly if you enjoy it.
Someone will always lose. If you get the job someone else will not. Why participate in that kind of situation or perpetuate it.
That's absolutely not true.
There have been many jobs I've gone for which I did simply to have my hat in the ring. Not getting them didn't mean I lost, in some cases just having the appearance helped me later.
You could argue, even in those situations, someone else 'lost'. I'd still disagree. In my particular case, the situation was clear from the start - there were 2 clear candidates which the EVP identified, and made us both aware we were in the running, and told me I was the top candidate.
To the chagrin of both of us, a dark horse arrived and won the position.
Yet, the last job I went for I know I was one of three candidates, and I had every expectation that I knew who was going to get the job, and he did. I wasn't as concerned because I knew I was a strong candidate, and presented an excellent case for my getting the job. But I realized, too, that he was just as good (if not better, in some respects). I even congratulated him when he got it.
These situations aren't always win-lose, in fact most of the time they aren't. This situation was different mainly because of the way it was handled from the start and the effort I'd put in developing the position, writing the description, and having been 'blessed' as the top candidate early on. It's disappointing, but there's a need to clarify and get perspective - which I did.
I used to think this was the right response but no more. Loyalty to an employer under these circumstances is misplaced. I would jump ship if I could. Since 2008 I realized that I must take a more "selfish" attitude about employment and be less willing to accept less beneficial terms and treatment. And if something better comes along I will go.
As I've aged, and the economy has worsened, I've changed my view. There are too many variables wrapped up in the decision to say "this decision is always the right one no matter what." I used to think leaving was always the better alternative. That was played out by youthful exuberance, solid skill set for the industry, and desire to get ahead.
I've done the move for money and/or responsibility thing and it hardly ever works the way you want. Money definitely doesn't make a bad situation better.
In the end, it becomes an issue of what is comfortable and supportable based on circumstance. With kids in college, jumping ship is risky, since most firms that are looking are having their own issues. It could be in the next round of layoffs, last in first out.
In this case, I have no reason to believe this was a personal slight. If anything, it was a decision based on expedience and familiarity. That's not a poor basis for a decision. I will continue to look out for myself because the one thing I do have which my new boss does not is name recognition in the industry. If I choose to leave it should be my choice based on a reason other than "I was passed over and that's not right."
Either you, the company, or both are a "dead man walking". You should be looking for a new job. You were not hired for the job posting even though you were best qualified, As such you are a threat to the new manager. As long as you are present higher management can replace her at a moments notice. If she values her own job she must terminate you as soon as you have brought her up to speed. The company went diversity over experience. Multiply that by every HR choice and things will soon not go well.
Possibly, but doubtful. Luckily, I get to play the 'age' card now. I think laws which play a role in hiring practices for age, gender and race are outlandish, but they exist. Therefore, it works for me rather than against me.
She can't do her job without me. That's a fact. I leave, she fails. If I can continue to do my job well, it makes her look good, makes me look good and I live to play another day.
You are a true adult, making the hard decisions. Your 2 kids in college are lucky to have you.
I'm dealing with a similar situation. A reorganization resulted in my being given a manager whose only qualification was having been with the company for more than 10 years. I support a suite of applications for three business units over six sites, things move very quickly, and there is more work than I can do. Initially, I gave 100% to the new manager to make sure that he had all of the information he needed to communicate with the customers and to create plans and schedules. He had a number of business process ideas that sounded like improvements and for a couple of months, things went fairly well.
After a couple of months, it became obvious that this guy was all talk. He still didn't understand my role or function, he didn't know the customers, none of the process improvements he promised were being implemented, and he was very quick to claim credit for the work that was being done despite him.
After 6 months, I started looking for another job and found that there's few jobs of the kind I do in my new area--I had moved a year earlier based on the fact that my new job seemed stable--and the ones that I am (over-)qualified for don't pay nearly what I'm currently making. I took the problems to HR and to the senior department director, making as much noise as I could to get their attention.
The result is that there is a reorganization planned. I will need to follow some of the attitude advice above and no matter what happens, I need to pretend that it's the best possible outcome and that I'm fully in love with my job again. I have kids and if it means that I need to nibble on some "omelette du merde" for the next couple of years, so be it. The overwhelming majority of people have crap jobs and mine pays well enough that I intend to keep it.
I do have one beneficial difference. My new boss, young though she is, does at least share credit. We've pushed forward two initiatives in the last 3 months, and she's let me be the front person for them, and they are going well. I know she gets the 'credit' for running the department, but my name and fingerprints are all over the work and the training.
I needed to read this. A guy in his late fifties, after 11+ years on the job, a respected technical expert. Unfortunately made a series of mistakes in too short a period of time, and discharged as a result. No hard feelings toward them - I was, out of necessity, held to a higher standard than my co-workers; I stayed honest thru the ordeal and left with my integrity intact. Fortunately for me, an old boss of mine had an opening at his facility that I was well qualified to fill, and I was only unemployed three days. I was at first disheartened; my wages went down by nearly half, and I'm on graveyard - welcome to being the low man on the totem pole - but my loving wife is amazing with our budget and also had, coincidentally, gotten our mortgage payment lowered 2 months prior without putting us in any deeper debt. No other payments outside of living expenses( I credit her Dark Elf intelligence and cunning - truly a Magick lady!), so my failing will not result in catastrophe... but I needed to reinforce my sense of gratitude and personal worth. Between the rapid employment, her support(and that of my friends and family), and my stubborn insistence on making it thru adversity, I've slowly come around from wearing out my legs by kicking my own ass to being grateful for what I have. Your words further inspire me.
That's pretty much it, isn't it?
My first bout of unemployment was brief, but I spent is fuming over the idiocy of those who'd let me go and plotting their downfall. I was only 32 at the time, of course. They were wrong, I was right, I deserved better treatment, etc.
It took me a good, long time and lots of head-banging from a wife who (I think ;) ) genuinely cares about me to realize I was messed up and had to change how I reacted to things like this.
I wish you well, Bulldog. I think at your age you are implementing the correct strategy.
"She can't do her job without me"
Reminds me of another Dilbert strip from long ago. In frame one, the pointy hair boss tells the candidate, "You are the top candidate for the promotion." In frame two he goes on to say, "However, the pay tier for the new job is 17% higher than yours. Since raises are capped at 5% there is no way I can give you the promotion." In frame three he says, "Therefore I plan to hire someone from the outside that you can train to be your supervisor."
To revert to your quote, in my experience it was not an unusual circumstance to place managers in positions in which they lacked the knowledge to run their departments. It was frustrating for the underlings and a drag on productivity and profitability, but the Decision Makers seemed not to care.
I may spend my declining years working as a greeter at the Wal-Mart, but staying in corporate America with the back stabbing, incompetence, irrational rules and regulations and idiotic paperwork would have killed me.
For now, I have freedom and independence, and that is worth a lot.
And I don't think I could ever work for a woman.
And I don't think I could ever work for a woman.
You've never been married? ;)
Yes. So perhaps I should rephrase that. I could not work for yet another woman. :-)
Good on yer, B'dog!
One suggestion based on experience; Always keep your resume up to date and, even (especially) if you're not looking for work, keep it circulating. Doing so helps keep one grounded and aware of one's skills and worth in the marketplace, -something that one's present employers may not necessarily do.