Taking the pressure off with work

silhouettes of a group of five businessmen - one of the silhouettes is a different color
It’s hard to say if the orange guy is out, or if he’s staying, while all the others are shown the door

So, rumor has it that there are going to be massive staffing cuts before too long at work. Nobody — but nobody — knows their fate.

How wonderful!

I mean, it’s not wonderful for people who need to keep their jobs and keep supporting their families.

It’s not wonderful for people just on the verge of retirement, who will find their plans hosed by rich people who aren’t getting richer fast enough for their tastes.

It’s not wonderful for people who don’t have a lot of skills to transfer into other companies or other lines of work… people who have been at low-level positions with the same company for so many years, that their salaries will never, ever be replicated if they go to a new company and have to start from scratch.

But it’s wonderful, that it takes the pressure off all of us to PERFORM AT OUR PEAK LEVEL, DAY IN AND DAY OUT. You can almost hear a collective sigh of relief, at how much less pressure there is to be ALPHA MALE/FEMALE and UBER-PRODUCER-OF-THE-DAY/MONTH/YEAR/DECADE.

All that gets old, after a while. And it’s a relief to just go about my business, doing what I do because it’s the right thing to do, rather than because it’s politically expedient.

I’m supposed to do my Q3 goals a few weeks ahead of time. I also had to do my Q2 recap a few weeks ahead of regular schedule. I think they’re trying to line everyone up and pay out our bonuses before we’re let go. And that’s fine. Because it may give me the month of September off — or at least a few weeks — to regroup and just enjoy the fine weather (assuming it is fine).

This is the harsh reality of the job market in my lifetime. It’s never been any different for me, so it seems business-as-usual for me. I’ve never known stability in any job, they’ve always moved things around, always cut staff, always merged and joined and “transformed” organizations — most often to benefit the ones in power. I feel bad for everyone who’s been at this company for the past 10-15-20 years, who had some stability and constancy, but to be honest, they’ve been in a magical bubble that was bound to burst, sooner or later. And I feel bad for some of them, because the skills they used to keep employed there, aren’t going to translate elsewhere, necessarily. The cultures are different. The people are different. And what cements your place in one company, won’t always work elsewhere.

Everything is unheaval. Everything. The best thing to do, is embrace it. Update your resume. Look around for other jobs. See what the market is like and where the biggest opportunities are. Follow your gut, use common sense.

And never, ever, take anything for granted.

This is the new world for many — and the old world for me. I wish everyone the best of luck…

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What Twitter Stands For

rageThis
Will
Incite
Them
To
Extreme
Rage

That’s pretty much how it seems to me — especially considering how peaceful my state of mind has become, since dropping off Twitter. Seriously, my internal life is much quieter, ever since I walked away from the 140 characters of overly brief annoyance and provocation.

As an extended bookmarking and link-sharing mechanism, it’s great. But people can’t seem to resist the temptation to editorialize — and that’s a terrible idea, if you only have a few lines.

Under-doing anything tends to be a bad idea, and trying to pack extended thoughts into a condensed “container” has been the bane of my existence. Truly, Twitter represents just about everything that makes life difficult for me (and countless other TBI survivors) in this modern world.

First, it’s too abrupt. There’s no time to really think things through, when all you have is 140 characters. When your brain needs longer to function (and that goes for anyone who really wants to have a more studied life, not just folks with brain injuries), that very brief space is like a vice closing on your cognition.

Second, it’s too quick. People who have conversations on Twitter drive me nuts. There is no way I can actually have a meaningful exchange with anyone — even people who agree with me (and vice versa).

Third, it lends itself to extreme impulse control issues. The two elements above can stoke the fires of anxiety and frustration, tiring you out and further exacerbating an already shaky control over escalation.

There’s more, of course, but those are the big three for me — and the thing that makes them all even worse is the cognitive drain and encroaching fatigue that accompanies following and reading streams of tweets. If you’ve got slowed processing speed (that would be me), it can demand a lot to have even one back-and-forth. I tried it, a few months back, and it went downhill quickly. I got bent out of shape, and so did the other person, and the only thing that came of it, was irritation … and a touch of fleeting rage.

Nope, just not worth it.

It’s a constant struggle, in this world, to keep focused. Especially in the world where I work, it’s brutal. Absolutely brutal. And as the whole restructuring thing goes on, and I contemplate what I will do if I lose my job, I think about what kind of work I really want to do. I’ve been in the tech business for quite some time, now, and over the past 5 years or so, it’s become so much more “interrupt-driven” — which is a disaster just waiting to happen for me. I have to constantly guard against interruptions, constantly managing others’ expectations, training them to know that I will not drop everything I’m doing, in order to allay their irrational fears.

On top of it, the tech world is chock full of “youngsters” who thrive on constant change and interruption. And it’s full of execs who want to pay rock-bottom prices for folks just now entering the workforce, who may be “up” on the latest technologies, and promise to propel them into the brilliant new future ahead. Someone like me, who’s getting long in the tooth and is harder to fire (the longer you live, the more “protected status” you are in the workplace), becomes a liability after a while. I’m at that age where people start to get sick. Their bodies start to break down. Their minds start to go.

So, why would they keep someone like me around?

And why would I stay? Seriously. Why? If there is anything else I can do with myself, that will earn me a living, I should seek it out and do it. Get the hell out of the tech scene, with its stupidly long hours, its constant sitting/standing, its perpetual upheaval and disruption. That’s what it’s about, in any case, and it’s actually not what I’m about.

So, whether or not I’m let go today, I’ve got my Plan B in process. This job cannot be the be-all-to-end-all for me. No way, no how. I need more to my life, and I need to create that new direction for myself — not expect someone else to provide me with the opportunities.

I lost sight of that for the past three months, thinking that this job was going to tide me over for the next five years, at least. Now, nothing is certain. Nothing is fine. I wish to God I could find work that will let me just settle in and play my part for the long-term, but it’s becoming clear that I’m going to have to create that situation myself.

Anyway, it’s all very exciting. And it’s all a learning experience. Fortunately, my job involves work I really enjoy and that makes me good money, so I can focus on doing the things I know will translate into good money later on, and keep my head out of worst-case-scenario land.

Business as usual. Not usual at all. Which is usual.

Just have to stay steady in my own mind.

Onward.

Well, THIS is unexpected… or not?

Skyscraper
Welcome to the Big Time! The Great Overlords in the Sky have some plans…

So, apparently, my new employer got bought by another company.

How ’bout that.

There has been talk in certain circles about the company merging with another one, for some time, now, but The People In Charge all told us that it was just rumors and speculation, and they believe the best route to take is to stay steady and keep to the course they laid out.

Of course, they were not the ones who were actually working on the deal. And while it is probably 100% true that they agreed with the original course and were NOT in favor of a change, they were actually not the ones calling the shots. So, they don’t have to look like liars, because they weren’t. Ironically, the people working on the deal showed up and made the announcement like it impacts them emotionally. How could it? The only thing that changes for them is how much money they have — and they already have more money than God, so I’m sure it doesn’t have nearly the impact that it does for those who are at the bottom of the food chain. How could it?

Oh well, who can say? The Great Demon in all of this is dread speculation. Gotta hold that at bay. All I know is… nothing specific, yet. There was a company-wide conference call yesterday that told us a few important points, and there will be a team meeting today.

This rarely works
This rarely works

I’ve actually always known that things would change at this job; my current boss told me from the start that they didn’t know who I would be reporting to in six months. So, no surprises there. I actually belong to a different group than the rest of the folks in my team — it’s all pretty confusing if you try to make sense of it.

So, I don’t bother trying to make sense of it. Not until I have more information… which will be unfolding over time.

I actually find this news quite energizing. I’ve been at the company long enough to see that they are very entrenched in old ways of doing things, they have old loyalties and rivalries that get in the way of getting work done, and a change would do a lot of people good. It’s an excellent company with good products – and in some ways, they have been victims of their own success and have gotten in the habit of resting on their laurels. So, they really do need a shakeup. The days of constancy and steady-as-she-goes have never actually existed in the tech world, and those who believe things should just stay as they are, really don’t belong here.

So, who knows what will happen? My little group may get disbanded. I may get reassigned to another team. Who can say? I’m betting that in the next months, there will probably be plenty of opportunity for folks to reinvent themselves and see what else they can do. I’m keeping my eyes and ears open to see what’s available — and I’m also checking out the acquiring company’s website to see what positions they have had open and what their staffing priorities are.

I’ve been doing this an awful long time, and it’s not the first restructuring I’ve been through. I’ve been through no less than 10 different re-orgs at multinational companies, over the years, so I’ve learned a thing or two.

Main thing is to keep chilled out, continue to exercise regularly, eat right, and get plenty of rest. That way I can keep alert for opportunities when they arise.

And this could turn out even better for me than the awesome situation I’m in now.

Onward.

100 Days and Counting

And the count begins

The reality of my situation is starting to sink in. There is a very good chance that I will be out of this job by mid-June. It occurred to me last night, when I was thinking about the money I just spent on a replacement van — what kind of money I’m going to be making over the next few months, how many hours I’ll be working, etc. It occurred to me that I need to not bank on this job being around, six… no, three… months from now.

Oh, we got a really good van, by the way, for about $2,000 less than book price, because it doesn’t have all the power “bells and whistles” that people come to expect, and it’s been sitting on the lot since September. I really feel like I got lucky, finding that van. It’s smaller than the one we had before, so it’s easier for my spouse to drive. Plus, it’s a 2005 with under 100,000 miles (I know – where did I find that?) and it only had one accident reported on the carfax. Pretty amazing. I managed to cobble together the money to pay for it in full up front, and we even have a couple thousand dollars left to live on.  It’s not much of a safety net — 1/6 of what we had 24 hours ago, and if anything catastrophic happens, we’re pretty much screwed — but I get paid on Thursdays, so there will be money coming in from this contract for at least a little while.

Yep, we got lucky.

And now my luck continues, actually, because I might be out of this job in another 3 months, after my major projects are delivered, and the company switches over to a new technical infrastructure. What makes me think so?

  1. Nobody has added any projects to my docket after my two big projects launch at the end of May/beginning of June,
  2. My boss has been spending an awful lot of time at corporate HQ and has stopped going out of their way to be super nice to me,
  3. My boss’s boss has been dismissive towards me and cancelled the 1-to-1 meeting they scheduled with me when they first came on the job, and
  4. Nobody on the “new technology infrastructure” team is making eye contact with me.

That’s what my keen observational powers are detecting, anyway.

To be honest, it’s a relief to think I’ll be out of there. I’ve really been disliking the work environment, with all the political changes going on, the rumors, the gossip, etc — and the company switching over to an “open” workspace configuration. God, that sucks. Talk about fresh hell. The wild thing is, for all the technical environments I’ve worked with, and all the teams I’ve been part of, this extended team is the one I like the least. They’re okay as people, but they’re not the most inspiring.They’re more interested in feathering their nests and keeping up appearances, than kickin’ it in the technical sense.

And I just don’t relate to that.

But in another few months, it’s probably going to fall into the category of “not my problem“, which will be wonderful.

I’m sure there will be other problems at my next job, but this team and the dynamics will not be one of them.

So, I’m getting proactive and gussying up my resume, updating it on job sites, and also updating my other online profiles. I’ve reached out to folks I used to work with, to see if they can keep an ear open for me. I also have talked to recruiters and put them on notice for June timeframe. Even if I don’t get shown the door, I’m probably going to shift out of there, once my big projects are done. I have no enduring loyalty to this company. I don’t actually like the products they make. I just like the paycheck and the commute. Other than that, I’m fine without them in my life.

It’s funny… I’ve had this nagging suspicion in the back of my head for some time, that the 2-3 year contract they set up was not going to be fulfilled on their end. They’re letting other contractors go, and with a “last in, first out” approach, that puts my head on the chopping block next, because I’m the most junior contractor left.

Now that it feels more definite, I feel like things are freeing up for me.

Ideally, they’ll just tell me what the deal is ahead of time, so I can get a running start. I’m already talking to recruiters… And I’m not waiting for them to come clean, because they generally don’t — and probably can’t. If I hold my breath, waiting for them to do things the right way, I’ll probably suffocate.

So, it’s onward and upward.

100 days to go (max) — then I’m free to go. 🙂