Changes in America and Craziness at old company

The euphoria is winding down as the painful recession rears its ugly head again. The markets went down the day after Obama’s victory in response to a democrat taking office and the rest of the week was just mixed panic. There is fear that Obama will end up like a Jimmy Carter 2.0 or start developing socialist tendencies as President. Then there are those who pray that he remains on the centre-left since most of the swing votes came from pro-Obama conservatives.

That being said, it is nice to know that the Obama administration is taking some steps to remain open to the people with the website that is there as a public relations tool and as a means to inform the public of the transition process.

South Park did a parody of the election by presenting Obama and McCain as thieves working together to steal the Hope Diamond using underground tunnels in the White House. It was mainly a parody of Ocean’s 11, and also presented all the wild partying after Obama won the election.

The economy is pretty bad over here. I learned from my former co-worker that several people were laid off at my old job and the company culture has gotten worse. The only good news is that the incompetent CMO, who thought it was a great idea to make the sales team into account managers and then dumping all the lower tier accounts on the existing account management team, got fired in that batch of layoffs.

The CMO was disconnected from the changes in the industry, he was relatively unpopular at the office, and he had a bad habit of wanting things without understanding the situation. As a result of his organisational shakeup, the account managers were spending more time propping up lesser accounts and making less commissions while the sales team was wasting time doing work they are not trained for and constantly lacking time to acquire new accounts.

The internal slogan he kept using in almost every internal memo was “We’ll grow revenue – Together!”

It was an incredibly stupid slogan and almost sounds insulting in light of the realities in the office. This guy was even dumb enough to take advice from someone who was only in the company for less than 8 months and a major brown-noser. Office politics can be fun and I am glad they got rid of him.

Keep in mind this is about my first job out of college and not about my present situation.

There were some other signs the company was going under:

1. Frequent company status meetings. In one call the then-CEO announced he was putting the company up for sale. There were some interested buyers but in the end no one wanted to acquire the company.
2. Turnover. Several founding employees left the company in pursuit of better opportunities. Oddly enough, some interesting developments happened not long after they left. There were 3 CEOs during my time there.
3. Erratic product launches or projects. Several products would be abruptly launched with mixed results or they would be hastily discontinued to focus on the “core business”. Some projects often resulted in the company working in areas they are not suited for.
4. Constant organisational changes. One day I find myself part of the account management team, one day in product development, and another in sales. Internal instability is a huge problem.
5. The company stock loosing 90% of its value since its IPO was issued in 2004. This speaks for itself.
6. High-level office politics. One executive was sacked about 3 days before the company holiday party and the person who influenced the CEO was promoted to COO. A few months later the COO was sacked for having a power struggle with the CMO, who was considered the number 2 guy by the CEO.
7. No holiday party speech. Usually during the holiday party, the executive management or the CEO delivers a speech to boost company morale or to set the tone for the coming fiscal year. We had no such speech the year before I left.
8. Constructive discharge. My then-manager acted in a manner to get me to quit so they would not have to give me severance if I was terminated. I was unilaterally transferred to another department without my knowledge or inputl; everything I did was somehow held against me and I gradually had my responsibilities taken from me without real explanation.
9. Little or no profits. The company was loosing money every quarter or barely made enough profit to be reflected in the stock value.
10. Culture change. What was once a pleasant office to work for in good times and bad suddenly becomes a quiet, sterile and paranoid environment where people feel unappreciated or expendable.

I honestly can’t believe this company has gotten into this situation in the 1.5 years I was there and in the months since I switched careers. I hope the people who got laid off will find a better job and those who chose to remain will make a career change.


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