Monday, May 24, 2010

I never did like it all that much and one day the axe just fell

I'm "pursuing new ventures," which is another way of saying I'm out of work. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I spent the last two years working under the worst manager in my professional experience and hated every minute of it. I should have bolted a long time ago, but I had some stubborn belief that I would come through it and be vindicated if I worked harder and longer. A few too many months of 12-hour days and weekends that went by without notice left me burned out and resentful. My girlfriend told me six months ago that my job was sucking the life out of me and I often thought of that passage in Hamlet:

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

My enjoyment of life suffered, especially my hobbies, and I saw no end in sight, no bright spot indicating that the end of the dark tunnel was nigh. When the news came Wednesday morning that I was being let go, I felt as if the weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders.

Working for my ex-company had its rewards. My first year there was with a great manager and great coworkers on a great team. The pay was good, the benefits were terrific, and the opportunities for growth seemed almost unlimited. Then the re-org struck. The product I worked on was cut, most of the product team was laid off, and the writing team I was on got re-orged into a different product. I wasn't long enough in grade to transfer to another position; besides, I thought I could stick it out. Plus, the company went through layoffs, which limited a lot of internal mobility.

It didn't take long to see what a dysfunctional group we'd been dumped into. The management was a snake-pit. My first glimpse of that came in a large team meeting when the group manager yelled out from the back of the room to denigrate someone doing a presentation about a product feature. No matter what, it is never acceptable for a manager to humiliate a report in front of his/her peers. In my new team, that was SOP. Upper management seemed to have no other reason for meetings that to rip apart lower management. The product ship date slipped and slipped and slipped. Upper management was replaced by other versions of their snakelike selves. The week before last, I witnessed the new group manager shouting, "Do you want to fuck with me! Go ahead, fuck with me! Bring it on!" to someone (unseen) in an elevator. The product is still slipping...

My new manager had the art of creating chaos out of every project she touched. She created churn in my projects and then blamed me for the churn. I talked to HR; I talked to my manager's manager. Some sympathy and support there—but nothing tangible. I was told I was good at what I did, no doubt, I was just on the wrong team or had the wrong manager (ya think?). My manager's manager's best advice was to jump ship, get a contracting gig, and await an opportunity for a full-time position in another product group. Fair advice, in retrospect, but not too comforting. Not vindicating. As my girlfriend says, I'm a stubborn man. Obdurate.

So now the universe is my playground (until the money runs out). I'm looking for contract work and a chance to get back into the company full time doing something I will love, something that provides an outlet for creativity, growth, experimentation, collaboration, satisfaction—everything, in short, that my old job lacked.

I'm also looking into options for creating a blog that I can monetize for either extra income or my whole income some day. If I have any talent at all, it's typing out persiflage on a keyboard. How do I make money at it?


  1. I honestly hope something better comes your way, the work scenario you painted was "not good"

    IT is a curious world it seems to illicit the best and worst out of people

    It's hard when "management" is an excuse for a distinct lack of it on so many levels

  2. Best of luck with the fresh start. I'm sure you'll be much better off doing something new. You could always head to the great north words and work as a cook for a spell... or would that be deja vu? ;-)

    All the best, anyway