Sunday, April 10, 2011

Crap I don't miss about corporate work

I was all set to write an angry, serious post this week (and still might; it's only Sunday...) about investing in Public Education. I need to give that more thought before I launch into a tirade so here's a little lighter view of things.

The thesis of this post comes courtesy of my friend Mike. He's not at all corporate, but he has a business and his comments about work last week got me thinking about how happy I am in my new pursuit and how little I miss that world. Without further stall, here's the crap I don't miss about working in the corporate/business world 9and probably a thing or two I do...)

First- I do not miss the politics/game-playing. I realize this goes on to some degree in all lines of work, but I have never seen it so hideously as in my corporate experiences. Instead of working hard to accomplish objectives, energy is wasted making someone else look inferior or incompetent. So basically nothing really ever gets done and the world is a death spiral of blaming someone else (which is really easy to do when you've been busy thinking of ways to toss Bob under the bus instead of getting your ducks in a proverbial row). Ever read Dilbert? It's so popular because it's accurate.

After that comes hiring and firing. These go together, because it's a vicious cycle. hiring is awful because it takes FOREVER to find the one good applicant in a steaming pile of crappy resumes. I won't go into specifics in this space to protect the innocent, but I've had some doozies of interviews too. You know where the phrase "...but they looked good on paper..." came from? Interviewing some idiot with a resume that looks too good. Resume seem perfect? skip to the next, 'cause it's probably 85% BS. I have found that seemingly flawed resumes with great attitudes made for the best interviews and were probably some of the best hires I ever made. Firing people sucks, even when they deserve it. Even if the person screwed up royally after chance and chance and chance again to fix things, firing them is awful. You're messing up someone's day and/or life and it's no fun. I found a hundred ways to rationalize firing folks and was justified a good 95% of the time (I guarantee I made mistakes or rushed judgment in at least a couple cases, that's why I hated it). Firing,  sorry, I mean "laying someone off" is even worse. Ugh. Here's some poor soul who showed up, did what they were asked, but the numbers dictate they had to go. It's awful and wrecks morale like nobody's business. I was fortunate in that I didn't have to do the deed in layoff situations. But, I was the ferryman on the  River Styx. As a mid-level manager, it was up to me to pull the damned from their cubicle, escort them to the little conference room of doom, then collect them and help get their personals out the door. There is no small talk that works in that scenario, trust me. One story on that one- The very first experience I had with layoff-escorting I had to walk this guy out. I didn't know him at all and we do the silent walk of discomfort across the building, when at the exit he says, "oh no, I forgot my keys." Yep. we had to walk all the way back to his desk, get his keys, and return to the exit. Good times. 

Reports. For the sake of reporting. So many hours of valuable work time wasted making reports that no one will read, understand or care about. My favorite line about reports was "this is for the execs, so make sure there aren't many words and it's really colorful." What I'm basically saying is, see, I'm totally qualified to teach your second graders. I've educated my bosses.
Conference calls. No further explanation needed.
(no, it could not)
Meetings. They're like conference calls, except it's harder to ignore the other participants, and there is no mute button.

There's plenty more I don't/will never miss. But, I don't want you thinking it was all bad. I miss:

The people (mostly). I've been lucky to work with a number of really cool people. The bummer about workplace relationships (not that kind...) is that when work no longer ties you to those people, you drift away at breakneck pace. It's sad, sorta, that I don't get the camaraderie on a daily basis I used to enjoy. The morning walk for coffee was one of my favorite things, and I can't really explain why because it had nothing to do with getting out of the office. It was the morning BS session of the guys from the office and it was fun. At least I can get coffee whenever I want now, and don't have to go to meetings; I can live with the trade.

I miss the paycheck. Really I do. Let's be honest; I am not on the path to riches and glory in the world of education. I made more in my last year as a middle manager than I probably will in any year as a teacher, and I wasn't in the top tier of "industry averages." It's a good thing that wealth doesn't equal success. I've got a dream family, the best friends a guy could ask for and a life that is ridiculously fulfilling. i need to pay the bills, but I don't need to chase the dollar. Slowing that roll has actually been nice, and living simply has its benefits (but that's a topic for another day).

Take care and come back for more; I swear it'll get better!


  1. IMO some good synergy in there. Let's loop back around and take this conversation offline. Of course, if you don't have the bandwidth we can always touchbase EOD.

  2. Sounds feasible, Mike, but I am light on resources atm and don't know if it makes good business sense to move forward. If you can get your justification in ASAP, we can have the committee evaluate options and put together a team to consider how best to move forward.

    I can't believe I left out Office lingo!