The Great Escape

I recently completed a 40-day journey in gratitude for my job. Some days were easier than others, as the clown car emerged from the C-Suite with various edicts or as the latest wild hair of the nearest general manager caused a pain in my backside. Still, I managed to keep the snark to a minimum and identify real facets of my job for which I am truly thankful.

There was a definite reason I embarked on that journey. Things were (still are) a bit “flinky” (a Scooby Doo term for those of you not familiar with the cartoon), and I was trying to convince myself that I was overreacting and used the 40-day journey as an attempt to correct my perceptions.

I succeeded but only to a point. This week and last we received a series of disjointed announcements that a whole laundry list of people are leaving, and a critical mass of these peeps have skill sets that the company will miss greatly. These are not low-level malcontents, either: an exit from the C-suite, several Director exits and others representing higher level skill sets (programmers, e.g.). There are a number of us laying odds on a few VP exits to follow soon, too.

This makes me think there’s more to the mild (?) discontent I was attempting to ameliorate than I originally credited myself with identifying!

In just under 2 years, this company watched a $8million project get canned (with relatively nothing gained); the shut-down/cessation of work in 1 major business unit, 3 major reorganizations and a series of small layoffs where people disappear in 2’s and 3’s with no announcement. If you didn’t know the person and get the email or text from their personal account, you found out when you emailed them for information and got an auto-reply indicating that they were no longer with the company. Classy,…right!?

I surely know that there are no perfect work places. I also know that all organizations face pains of growth and change, BUT – how many times can the rank-and-file hear the mea culpas from the top and still believe that “NOW, we know what we are doing – really – we PROMISE!” The last time the C-suite made a promise (“there are no layoffs coming”), a 10% reduction in force was implemented less than 2 months later.

So, I’ll smile and nod and maybe even clap as they pull the wrap off the next big idea, but meanwhile I’m preparing my parachute… and no one can blame me after what I’ve watched the past 2+ years.

They say academia is full of crazies. I don’t disagree, and could add a few names to the list, BUT: corporate America isn’t immune to that syndrome. The only difference may be that when you leave an academic position, it’s easy to replace your salary – in fact, most folks are shocked at the low wages you were pulling down as an esteemed “professor”. Leaving the corporate world – especially if you are thinking about a retreat to academia (crazies you at least understand!) – means a serious leap of faith, and probably a few extra jobs.