A Word About Corporate Suckitude

Posted: July 30, 2011 by sirdiggy in Uncategorized
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Before I dive into my rant I want to say that, in general, I am not a hater of Corporate America.  I’ve always been more of a “private sector” person due to my career path, but corporate is just one component of the private sector – a component I never saw myself fitting in with.  I had my reservations as a teen and then as an undergrad.  Upon graduation, I was looking for work back home in NY within the sportscaster field.  I took an internship with a satellite-based telecom company with the promise that they would eventually show me their sports radio studios if I were open to learning about their telecom products and sales division.  Unfortunately, none of this panned out… at all :

About a few weeks into the internship, the interns were given a new manager to report to instead of the original plan which was to assign an intern to each sales rep or sales team.  Instead of following the reps out into the field to learn the business “X’s and O’s”, we interns were stuck in the office doing data entry and other busywork.  And because she was positioned higher than the sales reps, they couldn’t do much about it.  Now before you say, “well, most internships involve being stuck with busywork”, know that this particular internship was given instructions that we were there to learn, not gopher or do bullshit.  And this woman, this manager we had to report to, all you need to know about her is that one day the sales reps asked the interns to deliver some gift baskets to current/prospective clients within Manhattan, but apparently the manager viewed it as “wasting time” and labeled the group as insubordinate… like we were running around Manhattan shopping or something.  I hate to say this about any woman, but this one was a real Beee-ATCH.  It took the HR Manager – near the end of the internship mind you – to step in and sort out how controlling this woman was and then have her reprimanded on our last day.  It was a trying experience which validated ALL of my fears regarding working in Corporate America.

Oh, and as for that promise to visit their sports radio studios?  The HR manager told me at the conclusion of the internship that the studios were not in New York but in Phoenix, Arizona.  So not only did I have to endure a controlling, shitty manager for eight weeks but I was strung along for the whole time as well.  They went belly up two years later… karma, bitches; Karma.

In the last meeting the interns had with staff before we left, I was venting about some of the frustration we dealt with during our time there.  The HR manager and one of the interns began to stress the importance of holding the “key” to Corporate America.  My response to that was:  “You can have my key back”.

Fast-forward 12 years, a Master’s degree and a plethora of trials and tribulations later: today I learned my gf lost her job because a new ownership/management regime had been cutting people left and right and unfortunately, she had been a target in their cross-hairs for a minute.  Some of you probably know that when this happens, someone is looking for a reason, any reason, to get rid of an employee.  The honest approach would be to just let people know that because of “necessary” downsizing, there will be lay-offs.  It doesn’t ease the pain of losing a job, but at least one could understand and possibly see it coming.  But here’s what I believed happened:

The ownership group decides to slash jobs in order to cut overhead costs and possibly outsource certain positions, tasks or departments.  On top of that, the group wants to put “their people” in places.  They start looking for management holdovers from the old regime – those are the first to go, along with anyone who is related to, or has been noted to had been close to, said holdovers.  The next step is a two-pronged attack: reorganize job duties so that your staff has to take on expanded workloads to cover for those who had been let go [and will not be replaced], and make policy/rule changes (that are typically more harsh than what previously existed) on the fly which forces workers to adjust while taking on extra work.  Whomever shows the first signs on “not being able to handle it” are shown the door.  If more man-hours need to be slashed, mix things up a bit by creating or assigning new teams or workgroups with different managers, and order these managers and their supervisors to be more “involved” with the work their subordinates are performing… except the managers and supervisors aren’t as familiar with the daily ins-and-outs of the tasks their subordinates perform.  This meddling (incidental or not) thus causes or exacerbates the challenges the worker is already dealing with.  All the while, the higher-ups are marking their targets, and it’s the low-rung employees that are most vulnerable.  Whomever is deemed not liked by management will be the first to go at the next sign of any mistake, and any mistake the manager or supervisor makes, they can simply enter CYA mode by stating it was their subordinate’s responsibility, pinning the poor soul with the mistake in its entirety and effectively signing that pink slip.

I understand we live in an age of acquisitions, mergers and downsizing.  Businesses are trying to stay alive just like people are; that’s easy to understand.  It’s just that I believe that sometimes it’s a little too easy for a business to say, “we need to cut jobs to save money” when in fact they need to take a hard look at themselves and come up with new solutions to save – and make – money.  And if a business does indeed need to slash payroll, then the employees deserve to know upfront instead of executives playing power-trip games to create “reasons” to let someone go.  It’s only people’s lives we’re dealing with.
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