Diversity and Inclusiveness (D&I) – A Bridge Too Far?

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Before I begin, let me assure you, I am in favor of workforce diversity, moreso now since I retired three months ago and don’t have to deal with it. I think it is wrong to exclude people based on any criteria other than intelligence or appropriate skills from contributing to a project or a team.  I am against bias in the workplace as well. My following criticisms are aimed at organizations who are doing D&I and want to do it right.

Imagine you work in a company and have successfully led many teams over the years.  Suddenly, thanks to a new initiative the company sponsors, you find out that you have not been staffing your teams correctly.  In fact, you’ve been doing it all wrong.  “How can that be, my projects have all been successful?  Sure, most of the work we had to do sucked, but we met and exceeded our goals?”  The response you receive is you have not been factoring in Diversity and Inclusiveness in your staffing. “But I have always put the best people on a project.”  “That’s wrong.  You need to put the most diverse and inclusive team together.”

Thus the head-scratching begins…

Believe it or not this is happening everywhere. It is a convulsive fit of political correctness infiltrating the workplace.  Like the road to hell, it is built on entirely good intentions.  Diversity and Inclusiveness (D&I) is all the buzz in the realms of the corporate overlords. If you are not aware of D&I yet, your time is coming.  In its most basic form, D&I philosophy says that if you have a diverse working team (race, sexual preference, etc.) you will produce better products. It claims that people should be paid equitably – i.e. men and women should make the same pay for doing the same job.  On the surface, this seems innocent enough.

Let’s tackle this from a perspective of asking, “Why wouldn’t you have a diverse team?  Why wouldn’t you pay people fairly?”  First, you may be biased, consciously or unconsciously, to exclude people who are not like you.  That’s bad. No sane person can argue in favor of bias.  Things start to fall apart after that though.  What if your approach is simply to have the best people talent-wise on your team?  What if that team is not diverse?  Is that bad?  D&I die-hards will say “yes.” Why, because you may get better results with a diverse team. In other words, you should sacrifice having the best team to the concept of having a highly balanced, well-rounded team.  Thus begins the D&I conundrum.

The Claims That D&I Makes Money or Increases Quality

While many advocates proclaim they support D&I because it is the right thing to do, what really is fueling the surge of these programs is an increase in potential profits.  Stress “potential.”  Consulting companies that sell D&I services (and there are a lot of them now) claim that companies that have such programs in place and have diverse leadership teams generate anywhere from 10-19% more revenue.

Of course, most of that “research” is designed to sell their services.  Some of it is outright faulty,. It also does not take into account other factors that might be driving revenue increases.  I’ve looked at few of the studies and some are not balanced or even “scientific” at all.  There are often no control groups and how they measure the alleged boosts in profitability is questionable.  Quality improvements that are claimed are judgmental rather than measured against another team producing the same product the old-fashioned way.  Most of these studies concentrate on leadership teams that are diverse, which really doesn’t address the expense, time, and effort to put full-blown D&I programs in place.

In many respects, D&I programs can be viewed as a solution in search of a problem. They are unguided missiles fired into the organization, looking for places to impact.  Today the topic may be sexual diversity.  Tomorrow they may target a team because it doesn’t have a strong LGBT representation. Next week it might be the lack of Lithuanians on your global teams. Next month you may find yourself questioned as to why you didn’t put the Romanian transgender on your team, despite the fact that didn’t speak the same language as the rest of the team.  There is no end in sight because the people running these teams are always looking for the next hit.

Anyone speaking out against these programs is immediately labeled as biased, or far worse.  While so far, few have advocated having quotas for hiring and promotion; D&I gets dangerously close to the Q-word – quotas.  In some instances it is social justice reformation infiltrating the workplace under the guise of better productivity. I won’t argue the merits of whether such programs are needed…because I think they are useful if properly aligned to the organization and administered as change efforts.  The challenge is that many are not well run.  They do not have success and actually waste time rather than increase quality or profits.

Roots of Resistance and the True Motivation for Having a D&I Program

So where do these programs falter or fail? Let’s take a look.

An organization implementing a D&I program is essentially admitting they do not adhere to the ideals of diversity and inclusiveness.  Otherwise, why have a program in the first place?  So collective guilt is the messy foundation of the launch of many of these programs.  Guilt, which generates instant resistance.

But is a formal program like this actually needed?  Let’s assume you run a company or firm and are not paying people fairly/equitably; one of the many targets of D&I programs.  That can be proved fairly easily by running some reports from payroll and HR.  If you are not paying people equitably by sex or race; you can change it!  Start paying people fairly in the next pay cycle.  Problem solved. Likewise, if you have managers that are not adhering to the hiring and teaming guidelines and discriminating, why not fire them?  If they are discriminatory, terminate them.  Again, problem solved.

This begs the question:  Why do you need a program in the first place?  Just make the changes, no one will complain. If you fired a few senior VP’s for not staffing teams with good unbiased mixes of people – you might be surprised at how quickly the rest of the organization falls in line.  Like Stewie Griffin said, “Nothing says ‘obey me’ like a bloody head on a post.”  You don’t need a program in place to do the right thing. You need leaders who instinctively know how to do the right thing and hold themselves accountable. And if the leaders do it, it will get enforced further down the organization.

I know, you’re already chuckling.  I mean seriously, leaders holding themselves accountable?  It is funny.  However if you are delusional enough to think that forming a team of lower ranked staff can make the senior leaders, who are their bosses, do to the right thing, then grab a cup of the D&I Koolaide and chug it down.  That is what happens when you designate a D&I team and kick off a program.

The argument often countered to this is, “It’s more complicated than that.” But is it really?  In reality, having a D&I program is, by design, only to propagate itself with no end in sight.  In fact, other than withering on the vine and dying of natural causes, most D&I programs don’t have an end-state that is defined. When do they run the flag up and declare victory?  Never.  Because they will always be looking for another injustice or inequality in the organization.  If they can’t find them, the people allocated to work on these programs have nothing to do and are redundant – so they are on a constant search for the next social injustice in the company.

So let’s cut to the chase as to why these programs are in place.  The REAL reason is that these programs exist is so that the organizations that have them can tell the world they have them.  “Look at us, we believe in Diversity and Inclusiveness!  We are doing the right thing…because we have a program and people dedicated to it to prove it.”  This is all about public image rather than actually driving change.  It helps with recruiting of the millennial workforce as well.  “You should work here, we have programs that target the injustices of the world.”

You may say that’s not the case, but I have hands-on experience with this.  I went to D&I leadership at my last company, which I will not name and said we should have a professional network of older employees, those near retirement who are not in the top levels of rank in the organization.  “We have special needs and interests and are in a different place in our careers than other groups. We also have a lot to contribute given our experience.  Rather than marginalize these employees, why not invigorate them?”  I even labeled it, “Chronodiversity ©.  I went so far as to suggest that if we had such a program, we could sell it as a service to our clients. In other words, not only would it help our people but we could cash in on it.

You would think they would have been all over it.  Wrong.

What I was told, and I quote here, “We can’t support an age diversity group because millennials won’t want to take part in it.  The reason we have these networks and programs is to appeal to the younger employees.”  In other words, age diversity wasn’t allowed to exist or even acknowledged. The message to me was crystal clear, D&I, in this instance, was a marketing tool for recruitment and retention.  If it could not involve millennials, the firm wanted no part of it. That framed this for me perfectly. It wasn’t about diversity – it was about the illusion of diversity and inclusiveness.

The Pitfalls of D&I

Since then I’ve talked to people in several companies and have my own experience with these programs.  Many stagnate and flounder, trying to take root.  What are the issues with D&I initiatives? Here are a few problems they introduce or struggle with as well as some counters to these issues:

  • As stated earlier, there is a collective presumption of guilt associated with D&I.  “Clearly you all have bias and are all offenders, holding down minorities, women, and other negatively impacted groups.  All of you are the problem.” For advocates of D&I, this predetermined guilt, along with organizations that allow this to happen, are what is holding diversity groups back in their careers.  Essentially it lays blame on a portion of the organization that may or may not have ever taken part in an act of non-inclusiveness rather than targeting those individuals that are, indeed, violators.
  • The heart and core of most D&I programs is training, a lot of training. Ironically, training is also one of the least effective ways to drive cultural change, yet most programs start and end there. D&I tends to be like the person with a hammer in their hand…the whole world looks like a nail.

To expect people to attend a few hours of learning and that will somehow drive them to behave differently is arrogant and flawed thinking. Some of these biases come from a lifetime of experience and upbringing.  To expect they can be solved with a course on unconscious biases in an hour or two is laughable.  If you want to drive real change you need positive and negative reinforcement, consequences for bad behavior, rewards for good behavior, and leaders who put action over words.  You need supportive networks where issues can be surfaced and addressed without fear of repercussion.  Training has a role to play, but it is a secondary one if you want to alter workplace culture. For D&I to work, it has to have teeth.  It must have the ability to impact senior leaders, up to termination, or it is just a bunch of unsupported training.

  • There is an assumption that white males have advantages in the workplace. I, for one, never felt like I had any advantage being a white male. I had to work hard for every promotion I ever earned.  I also have had female managers for a good portion of my career. They too worked hard for their promotions.  Where is all of this “advantage” I keep hearing about?  The argument that because I haven’t seen it, that it doesn’t exist is akin to saying, “Just because you haven’t seen Bigfoot, it doesn’t mean that he’s not out there.”  Please don’t tell me that I experienced a benefit as a white male when you don’t know me, know my career, or know what I have had to sacrifice over the years.  While it may not be stated out loud, it most certainly is implied.

This thinking actually erodes D&I efforts because it forces white males to oppose the efforts of D&I because it is based on a fallacy in their eyes.  You need everyone, including white males, to be on-board with a cultural change.  Ironically, to implement a real change, you need this group to be aligned to D&I ideals – but instead the D&I program makes them the target and adversaries by default. Like one person I spoke to put it, “Why am I being told that I’m the problem?”

  • There’s some confusion as to what problem D&I is actually fixing. What is the actual goal of D&I? Is it quotas or predefined team compositions? If you cannot define the endgame, you cannot hope to win.

Over the years I had gay people working for me, but I often didn’t know if for a long time.  I just hired the best people.  I didn’t care if they were female, male, or what their country of origin was.  If they happened to be gay or transgender, well, I always figured that was their business. I just staffed great people.  To me, this seems to be what should be the goal of D&I…that managers just put fantastic people on their teams without any bias.  Instead, what I have seen, is there are mythical numbers – quotas – that people seem to believe constitute what makes a great team. To me, and to many people, that is wrong.

  • Many D&I programs target “barriers” in the workplace. There is a presumption barriers for women (and other groups) to undertake some careers and those barriers are seen a problem.  Example:  “We need to encourage more women to enter the STEM fields.” I challenge that.  Why must me we (at the corporate level) attempt to sway their career choices?  Personally, I always assumed women were smarter than those of us men that pursued such careers.  Perhaps many of them don’t want to enter a field that is filled with idiotic managers, constant (often frustrating) change, the persistent threat of outsourcing and layoffs, and long unforgiving hours.  If I had my career to do over, I probably wouldn’t have pursued this career path myself.  There is a supposition that there is some sort of barrier erected by men to keep women from certain career paths.  In reality, they are probably just smarter than those of us that went into STEM as a career.

It is also safe to assume that the choice of a STEM career begins much earlier in life, before college.  This is not something for corporate America to wrestle with, but society, families, and early education institutions.  If you were raised in a family that discouraged you from going to college, one that insisted that you get married and have children – why is it the corporate world’s responsibility to encourage you with a STEM career?  Hell, it has been ingrained in you for decades to not go down this path.  Putting this burden on the corporate overlords is folly, by this time in life, many people have already chosen their career paths.

Bottom line – may people think it is wrong to try and force people down career paths…even if your intention is good.

  • Many D&I programs start with a presumption that the problem exists at every level of the organization. Everyone is the problem equally.  In reality, any issues are almost always at the top and trickle down.  I saw one message on the subject that said, “You have to challenge the thinking that women and minorities don’t have a lot to offer.”  The word, “challenge” is interesting because in reality, it is challenging those in authority.  As one colleague put it, “Why are they putting me through all of this training?  I don’t hire anyone nor am I likely to.  The problem is with all of the people at the top not hiring diverse talent.” Organizations that claim to get a lift from D&I programs, almost always have a leadership level that has adopted the principles of inclusiveness.
  • Diversity is a slippery slope. What constitutes diversity?  Is it categorizing people or is it diversity of thinking?  Defining this is critical yet most D&I programs try and dodge hard and fast definitions. Diversity of thought is probably more important than any other aspect of D&I, but it is often glossed over.
  • There is a political undercurrent in some D&I efforts. The Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer person at Kellogg Community College in my hometown of Battle Creek recently attended a protest over the visit of Donald Trump to the city. He carried a sign that boldly said, well you can see for yourself:DandI

Now while you can go out in your private life and do what you want to do, it seems pretty clear that in this case the person they have leading their D&I efforts is not open to other ways of thinking – a diversity of thought.  It is a case of someone not living the ideals they are responsible for leading. While you may claim this is an isolated case, I have several folks I know who have photos I have seen circulated in knitted vagina hats screaming at protest marches on the weekends, while at work they are “leading” diversity efforts.  While I don’t want to dive too deep into political debate, there seems to be an underlying agenda at play here that cannot be ignored. Bottom line: If you are going to tell people to act a certain way, you need to demonstrate those behaviors both at work and in your personal life and be open to frank and candid conversations that challenge your beliefs.

  • I touched on this earlier, but it deserves its own bullet. Much of our belief and values comes from our upbringing, our families, our parents, what we are exposed to as children, etc.  To expect the workplace to solve a potential problem that may have its roots in family expectations and morals is crazy.  Some families might only encourage certain career paths, or lifestyle choices.  Religion plays a part in people’s lives too and may be deeply instilled.  If you want to get to the source of potential D&I issues, you have to look outside of the workplace.

In some cases D&I programs can conflict with regional and country values.  I watched one leader in my former organization do a D&I talk in India, telling the employees they needed to act differently towards women at work. It was awkward and weird and actually put the females in an uncomfortable position – having to choose a corporate program over their culture.  It is cute to think that your organization has the clout to change a national or religious culture, but that’s all it is – cute.

  • Just having a D&I program can actually diminish the achievements of individual that the programs claim to be supporting. When someone is promoted, it begs the question, “Was this person promoted because of their being in a diverse group?  They just promoted her because she was female and they wanted to improve their numbers.” Perhaps that person DID deserve the promotion, but thanks to the D&I program being in place, few may believe that.  Organizations should promote people based on their performance, with no bias.  But having a program in place makes people wonder, was the D&I program a factor in this person getting their new position?

I would counter that the measurements are all wrong. Instead of looking at the number of women and minorities that are rising through the ranks of the company, why not measure the impact of those teams that use more diverse teams?  The argument/myth is that having a diverse team leads to better quality solutions…so measure that.  Prove that D&I produces the results the experts and studies claim.

  • Often times the money spent on D&I is misused. There are dozens of conferences around the planet for D&I.  D&I teams LOVE to attend conferences and meetings.  Rather than send a different diverse group every time, some of the same people go over and over.  Why?  Well, your company wants to make sure it is known to the public and potential employees that they have a D&I program – so attending is seen as vital.  Not because it advanced D&I at all, but because it was a public relations move.  Sidebar:  Nothing cracked me up more than my last organization sending a male, balding, 60 year old, heterosexual, to a Lesbians Do IT meeting…and I wasn’t alone. This guy was not the problem in the organization, trust me.  And while good PR for the organization was important, it seems like this networking opportunity was squandered on a handful of people out to latch onto D&I to advance their own careers.

Ultimately, many D&I programs are telling people how to think and act based on what the program thinks they are thinking. No one ever asked me where I thought the problems lay in our organization, they just assumed I, like so many others, were part of the problem.  It is a recipe for failure.

From people I talked to in preparation of this article, I got the sense that their organizations are struggling with D&I.  It is almost as if it is a home for folks who pursued social justice degrees.  One person summed it up this way, “I wish they would just tell me what they want me to do differently and then leave me alone.”  Hardly the embracing that most organizations seek, but it is often the attitude of those that have these programs inflicted upon them.

By now I am sure there are some folks, the budding social justice warriors out there, whose blood is up, ready to slap some sort of derogatory label to me.  Might I suggest, “Quasi-retired, white, male, overweight, arrogant, prick (or asshat – your call).” I encourage some creativity here on your parts.  Those who are most offended by this article are likely the people that are involved (or leading) dysfunctional D&I programs and this hit too close to home.

It wasn’t my intention to make you angry (okay, it was, just a little though.)  My intention was to point out the flaws with some of these initiatives so that you can recraft your D&I program so that it is effective and impactful.

It is actually quite simple.  Treat your D&I program as a change program not an extensive training program. Target your initiatives to the groups or individuals where there are known issues rather than the masses.  Figure out a goal and articulate it clearly.  Take meaningful, visible actions like firing those that blatantly are biased. Don’t exclude diverse groups (like older employees) because it doesn’t warm the cockles of your millennial workforce. Don’t try and fix perceived social injustices that you cannot because they exist outside of the workplace.  Define how you will measure success and completion.

Best of luck.

My Epic Retirement Farewell Letter – Snarky to the Bitter End!

 

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How I looked day one.  Where is that enthusiastic and dedicated go-getter?  I haven’t seen him in the mirror in a long time.

Disclaimer:  Just because I am being blunt, open, honest, snarky and forthright in this message does not mean I didn’t enjoy working here and that I forged great relationships.  I would be remiss (and a hypocrite) if I didn’t fully vet emotions and sometime painful memories that I have been forced to carry for years. For me, it’s the best way to move forward, shedding some of the agony I’ve experienced. Please consider this what it is, an emotional purge with a light twist of humor. Yes, this is my actual farewell letter. 

Tomorrow, October 15, is my last day at the firm as I move on to early retirement after 25 years of service.  Despite my looks, which I blame entirely on the firm, I am only 56 years old.  For the record I am not being let go, RIFed, outsourced, downsized, right-sized, rebadged, deliberately unassigned, co-sourced, shown the beach, laid-off, “being given a chance to pursue other opportunities,” career-parked, put on the island, assigned to “special projects,” or even paroled. I am retiring, early, in fact I have had an evil plan in the works for some time.  I tend to think of this as less as retirement and more as “pre-boarding.”  Don’t think of this as me fleeing the firm, think of this as I’m “owning my career.” As with most things in my life, I am doing it my way.  Torn between snarky humor and well-placed-parting shots.

I have read a number of these kinds of messages over the years.  Most are teary-eyed, “I’ll miss you all…it has been a privilege to work with you…” dribble.  If you are expecting such a sob-story message from me in some vain attempt to stir memories and emotions; it is time for you to take a drug test.  I can even think of a few people to hold the cup for you when you do (I actually have a list).  As I have done with my entire professional life; I refuse to conform to normalcy.  I AM a professional writer after all, which is synonymous with “delusional/narcissistic genius,” so strap yourself in for a wild few minutes of my crafted ramblings.  In preparing this message, I am reminded of Bilbo Baggins’ quote from the Fellowship of the Ring:  “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” That certainly sets the tone, so let’s saddle-up, take a stiff drink, put your feet up, and dive into my triumphant farewell email (soon to be a major motion picture!)

I never really planned on staying here for 25 years. This place is like that scene in the Godfather, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”  When you want to stay, they try and find ways to get rid of you – and when you want to leave, they slap on an ankle tracking monitor and lock you in a digital equivalent of a Turkish prison.

Sadly, I barely remember actually having a job that I applied and interviewed for or wanted.  All of this talk of “owning my career” is pure horse crap; designed to absolve management of their responsibilities.  For the last 15 years I have been doing jobs that I have been slotted into, forced to take, while being told that I need to make the best of it.  Mobility?  That is a forlorn myth.  When you are good at something, they won’t let you leave, trust me on this. So now I AM owning my career with a full departure.  You have to admit, my solution is eloquent and oddly Shakespearian.

In case any weak-kneed, spineless, misshapen-sacks-of-oozing-pus-that-call-yourself-leaders believe they are somehow winning…that they are somehow driving me out, perish that thought. I’m going on my own accord.  This is on my terms, waging a struggle on a battlefield of my choosing, and I am the victor.  You did not win, you didn’t even manage a stalemate.  I walk away with my honor and dignity intact.  Though clearly with this message, I will have to revisit my definition of the word, ‘dignity.”

Of course I won’t actually be idle in retirement, I will be writing a lot more books, I’ve got some television stuff in the works, and I’ll be spending time on my game company and starting several podcasts.  I will not looking back at my time at here with any misty-eyed memories.  While I cherish my friends I have made here; and that is where it ends.

When I hired into the firm, the partner I worked for, on the first day, told me, “This is the peak of your career – working here.  Anything else you do in your career is downhill from here.” For the record, he got it 50% right.  I am proud of the work I have done, even though the last few years I have hated doing most of it. Ultimately, when you look back, that is all that really matters, your personal sense of pride. The firm certainly got its pound of flesh out of me. I have long maintained that we should have the tag line, “Give us three months, we will crush your mortal soul.” But I digress…

There’s a lot of things I will not be doing going forward. I will no longer have people questioning my private life or implying that because I’m a successful author that I am not giving the firm full attention.  I will not have to tolerate some manager saying that because I work from home, I’m somehow not putting in as much effort as anyone who is office-bound.  I will not have someone in leadership telling me that they are a better writer than I am and expecting me to take that in silence (only one of us is a New York Times bestseller – and it ain’t you!)  I will not have my aspirations held back because someone doesn’t like the fact that I am successful outside of work. (I was told once that I didn’t get as large of a raise as they could give me but it was, “…okay because you have income from outside of work that will offset the raise you didn’t get.”) I won’t be told that travel is impossible, while leaders gallivant across the globe with the sole purpose being padding their frequent flyer and hotel point accounts. I won’t have to watch people promoted only because of whose asses they kiss, rather than what they have accomplished. I won’t have petty backstabbing managers going behind my back and over my head because they lack the balls-that-God-gave-a-sand-flea to talk to me directly.  I will no longer have to tolerate passive-aggressive behavior that is considered a substitute for leadership. I won’t miss having to explain our business to people who know (and care) nothing about our end-user community.  I will no longer be forced under threat to take mandatory classes that have nothing to do with my job. I will no longer have to bite my tongue when some leader attempts, in vain, to impersonate Steve Jobs with a ponytail or a cheesy black turtleneck. The petty insecurities of even pettier managers will no longer cast doubt as to my worth, intelligence, dedication, loyalty, or commitment.  Note:  If you were at all offended by this paragraph, you are part of the problem.

Free at last!

Ah, the memories.  In my case these remembrances are a curse of sorts, a shadowy nagging reminder of what we once were as an organization and team. I remember when we cared about performance, rather than just getting positive feedback.  I can remember both dreading and missing roundtable sessions.  I remember when people were a priority, not an undesired commodity.  When we called people “talent” it depersonalized them.  Our people have become like gasoline. You need it for your car to run, but you don’t really care about where you get it from, just as long as it’s cheap.  I remember when people aspired for promotion rather than seeing each level as being a larger target on their backs. Alas, we did not recognize the good old days at the time because we were busy striving to be better.  All of that has been lost.  Now, work in our IT Department has become a matter of survival.

I won’t miss the Illuminati-ish budgeting process, moratoriums, firm-mandated learning, stinking-badges, travel bans (for people at my rank), firm-mandated fun/social events, trips to India or anything associated with Newark International Airport. I won’t miss trips to New Jersey regardless of mode of transportation.  I remember the suicide jumper at the Embassy Suites in Secaucus, leaping eight floors to his death in the middle of the breakfast bar, ruining breakfast for everyone other than the cop who was eating a donut he had lifted from the crime scene.  True story.  Proof that NJ cops are a sick bunch of bastards and that some people would rather die than stay another night in New Jersey. I get it.

I did some quick (highly inaccurate) calculations in regards to my so-called career.  I traveled to New Jersey roughly 53 times during my career at EY – arriving and departing on-time only twice through Newark International Airport. I went to Cleveland approximately 31 times – and oddly enough 90% of those were in the winter.  Why?  Because the firm hates me.  I went to New York around 14 times, spent three-and-a-half weeks in Dallas, and countless other little trips that tore me away from family and friends.

According to one model I created for this email; I produced a total of 51,874 PowerPoint slides in my 25 years here – and only five were read, and only two of those were actually understood.  That is less of a testament about my PowerPoint skills as the collective IQ’s and attention spans of those I was presenting to.  I sent a staggering 988,246-ish emails, not counting when I hit Reply-All just to cover my ass or to be one. There are entire days of my life spent responding to other people’s foolishness in email.

I have spent two and a half days of my career on the phone with tech support for something I didn’t do wrong, but because some IT manager put something into production that had not been properly tested. I have lost approximately 479 hours of my life because people cannot attend a meeting on time. It would be much easier to count the number of meetings with attendees that actually respected everyone and started when they were supposed to.

On at least five occasions I was forced to interrupt long-planned family vacations to take “important” conference calls that were not, most of which required me to lug around my work laptop as well. I have had a total of 32 managers in the course of my 25 years, often times having more than one manager at a time (which we all know is a delight.) Only one; John Russo, actually stood out as an excellent leader and motivator. For the rest of you, breathe somewhat easier – he’s the only person I’m mentioning by name.

Over nine days of my career were wasted group-editing messages for an audience that won’t or can’t read. I attended over 212 hours of learning in my career, only eight of which was something I actually asked for.  I have taken roughly 278 internal surveys over 25 years, none of which has resulted in any sort of measurable change. I have missed approximately 58 breakfasts, 426 lunches, and 26 dinners because I work in this place…all part of the firm’s covertly mandated weight loss program I suppose. I’m so thankful they cared!

I am estimating that I have had 17 job titles, the majority of which didn’t involve me actually changing jobs…just renaming what I did (I stopped ordering business cards six years ago).  Over the years I have spent more time being reorganized (66%) than I have being actually organized.  I have had my budgets reduced 17 times for a cumulative total of 142%.  I was forced to adopt four different firm tag-lines and three logos over the years, none of which changed my life in the least. I can remember charge codes I haven’t used in years, but struggle with my current Apple password. Which reminds me, I have had to know over 196 different passwords for work. You may claim I’m exaggerating, but you can’t fight the math.

I believe I am responsible for causing at least three ulcers and two panic attacks with senior leadership, though this is difficult to confirm (I may have only been a contributor.)  This last statistic is one I am relatively proud about, because, as one manager told me, “Ninety-five -percent of the time you are a great employee, but the rest of the time you are pure evil.” This monument to idiotic management techniques got the percentages totally wrong (grin).  When he got negative anonymous feedback, he spent an entire week trying to identify who had sent it, having me fly to NJ so that he could personally accuse me for over an hour for being the author of the piece. “I know it is you Blaine, it was well written!” I didn’t write it but he swore he’d get me back for it. While innocent at the time of the accusation, I wrote my own scathing piece about his lack of leadership that afternoon…I mean, if I’m going to be accused of it, I might as well actually do it.  Oddly enough, he managed a team of writers at the time. Calling him an utter moron insults morons everywhere.

When I joined the firm we did time and expenses on paper IBM forms and our email was MS Mail which required server reboots almost every day to stay operational.  There were days it would have been better to use tin cans and string to communicate (actually, compared to Skype, this may be a good viable alternative.)  I was here when Lotus Notes was considered bleeding edge technology – and when we replaced it as “archaic and outdated.”  I’ve seen TRAX, Bert, GFIS, and Mercury during my career and want to assure you, I will miss none of them once I leave.  I won’t miss failing Skype calls (“Can you see my screen yet?”), mind-numbing webcasts with seeded audiences and  questions, LEAP, LEAD, LEADS, Success Factors, reminders from Risk Management which read like they were written by Captain Obvious (Example:  Did you know that public intoxication could harm your career?”)  I will easily forget that warm cuddly feeling that any alert from Information Security carries with it. Information Security’s unspoken tagline: “Do what we say and no one gets hurt.” Catchy eh?

I oversaw seven technology conferences where I had to play the role of adult to crazy drunken IT professionals (a stretch on that last word.) As a result I have driven four of you to hospitals for injuries you received, had to break up three pool parties at Vero Beach (which included a 3am contest to jump bicycles into the pool, which I had to fish out, thank you!)  I had to explain to a tax partner why it was wrong to hold a strip poker party in his room with new hires. No, I’m not joking. I had to explain to one employee why dancing on the bar table wearing only his hot pepper boxers was a violation of firm policy (a perfect use/waste of my Master’s Degree in HR).  I have caught three people having affairs (no I will not provide names.)  This last factoid includes one man that brought his kid’s babysitter to the conference, leaving his wife at home with the kids…eww… The concept of any of you naked still makes my stomach pitch, don’t take it personal.  Thanks to all of these experiences, I generally refused to drink at firm functions.  In retirement, I will be drinking again to get catch up on lost time and attempt to purge those memories.

My last few years or so here have been concentrated on separating people from their careers.  I hated every moment of it. “Hate” doesn’t seem to do it justice, but there are no other phrases that seem to work short of “Soul-Crushing-Career-Fuc*ery.”  I will not miss Incremental Layoffs, Swift, Topaz, SWPI, DIPPI (Okay, I made that one up, but I bet you believed it),  Azorian (Google it), Gorilla, Diamond, RIF’s, “staff realignments,” rebadging exercises, location strategy, or anything that has some idiotic code name or acronym.  My biggest success was when I saved 25 of your jobs in one shot. True story. There were others I managed to save or had individual’s packages increased because of my behind-the-scene interventions.  I saved what jobs I could and never even got a pat on the back for it…in fact, I was painted as the bad guy for fighting those battles by lesser men and women. It didn’t matter – I had my triumphs and all it cost me was my own career aspirations.

I leave knowing that a lot of people will say, “I never knew what he really did in the first place.”  It is important for you to know that I am 100% comfortable with this.  I don’t care if you know; I know and that’s what matters.  Frankly, I have no idea what you do either.  We even have betting pools about you and what you do.  I don’t expect a statue in my name – it would sink into the swamps of New Jersey anyway.  Some folks will rejoice with my leaving while others will speculate as to what is really behind my departure.  I encourage you to make up some good stories and spread plenty of rumors attached to my leaving.  The only way I wish to be remembered is someone saying, “Boy, I wish Blaine had been on that call.  He would have said something snarky/funny about _______.”

My departure should be seen as an opportunity to all of you.  You have free will to blame anything that goes wrong the next three months on me. I will hold no ill-will to you, I would do the same if you had retired.  All I ask is that you attribute my name to BIG failures or issues.  Don’t squander my name and reputation on little things…save it for some big and awesome failure.  Just not Mercury please. I refuse to be a part of that f’ing disaster.  You can also use it positively, “If Blaine were here, this wouldn’t be nearly as screwed up.”  In other words, have some fun with my departure, use it to your advantage. I will not hold it against you.  In fact, you’re welcome!

I offer this unsolicited advice to those of you remaining here:

  • When you look at who the firm promotes, or hires from the outside; question whether you really want to be promoted yourself. “Do I want these people as peers?”  The correct answer is, “hell no!”
  • Don’t take what the firm does as personal.  It’s never personal.  The firm doesn’t have the time or the care to make it personal and in terms of priorities, you are WAY down near the bottom of the list.
  • The firm will always do whatever puts more money in the partner’s pockets.  They may lie about their motives, but this is the true underlying business driver for most initiatives.
  • Organizational Karma is a real thing…it just takes time. Revenge takes longer.
  • Always be suspicious when the firm says they are giving you something or doing something for you – like those holidays we were given this last year where they forced us to take vacation days.  (Yes, I am still bitter about this.) It is healthy to question leadership’s true motivations.
  • Don’t seek to validate your value to the organization in the eyes and minds of others.  If you are content with your performance and contributions, that is all that matters.
  • Owning your own career often means picking out which box to pack up your office when you are let go. Find your own path in and outside of the firm, don’t let the firm define you.
  • “Outside talent” is poorly named in most cases.
  • The traits you see and loathe in others, chances are they are inflicting the same BS on people in their private lives. You only have to deal with them for a few hours at a time. Suck it up, buttercup.
  • If you seek help with your career, get a mirror or put on your butt-kissing pants.
  • Words do not matter.  All that matters is actions.
  • Don’t pick idiotic code names for your projects or your teams.  Look at Mercury.  Named after the god of speed, it is 3+ years behind schedule and the system is slow as a snail.  I guess there is no Roman god for entropy…
  • Don’t be in the office on a day when layoffs happen.  It really is just a matter of time before something violent goes down. You can only stress people out so often before something snaps.
  • If someone has to guilt you into doing something, it isn’t worth doing in the first place.
  • Managing technology has nothing to do with the tech – it’s all about the people. Technologies come and go, but people always remain.
  • No one cares (other than you) about your past glories.  The organization doesn’t remember the times you saved their collective asses.  They don’t recall when you worked the long hours or what bits of your personal life you sacrificed for them.  They only remember last week when you were a minute late to their very important call.  You cannot change this organizational amnesia so don’t waste time trying.

The firm has changed a great deal over time. It does not value long term, older employees below the Director ranks…that has become abundantly clear.  “Seasoned” employees are a minority in our technology teams and have no voice here.  I have grown weary of walking into an office and having people stare at me because I am twice their age.  I loathe webcasts with live, staged audiences of only people in their 20’s, reminding me that I am an unrepresented minority in my own firm.  Even our internal branding site doesn’t have anyone over the age of 50 in images. I am through groaning every year when the promotion list comes out because people of my age group have been glossed over.  For all of its grandiose talk of supporting diversity, older (mid-rank) employees such as myself are discriminated against and made to feel unwanted by the very firm we have committed our careers to.  Bitter?  Just a tad, thank you for asking.

I leave knowing that the organization will endure long after my departure, or at least until my tell-all book about this place is published.  I cherish my writing career, where I DO have an impact on people, lives, and real-world justice. We all want to make an impact on the world around us. Working here will not give you that opportunity.  Work provides us with the money so we can go out and do that in the real world.  That is the best job satisfaction anyone can hope for. I will be spending my remaining years happily writing true crime, and science fiction.  In other words, I would rather deal with serial killers and imaginary people rather than some of the people at work.  Try and take that in the spirit it was intended (wink).

I will miss the things that make me laugh at work, and this place provided a lot of humor over the years. Humor has been the one thing that stood between my work day and being fitted for a straight-jacket (available in our company colors; yellow, black, white, and gray – complete with our logo!)  Fortunately this place has provided me a seemingly never-ending source of material to make me chuckle.  Emails about the dangers of touching goose shit in Alpharetta or a mouse/rat infestation in Secaucus provided me quite a bit of levity over the years.  Who can forget when BJ’s Warehouse came to the NJ office to talk about memberships and they sent out an email with the subject, “BJ’s in the office Tuesday!” I heard a lot of people made it into the office that day, only to be severely disappointed. One cannot make this kind of stuff up.

The only shame I feel about departing is that I am leaving good friends here.  Work isn’t about spreadsheets, deployments, or PowerPoint…it is about people.  I have worked with some of the absolute best and some utter idiots. The best, well, they know who they are and why they rock it out despite daily adversity.  On the flip-side, there are some folks I know that I am still puzzled how they put on their shoes each morning, let alone their toupees.  I even got one evil-incarnate boss terminated (She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named), which was horrible, delightful, and epic all at the same time…may she rot in hell for all eternity.  Sure it torpedoed my waning career hopes and she left me with PTSD (true story), but I would do it all over again.  There is something great about fighting the good fight for the right cause regardless of the personal and professional cost (no retribution my ass). The mental picture of her walk of shame to her car that last day still brings me joy. Sadly enough, in the last 15 years, her misery is one of the few things that made me truly happy. That’s what this place does to you, it corrupts your thinking.

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my opinion about employees/refugees that we have taken in from an unnamed banking institution (okay, it’s JP Morgan).  I remember when JP Morgan was not a curse word or a synonym for a human-shaped-sentient-enema mascaraing as an IT leader. There was a time when we weren’t the retirement home for JP Morgan’s mentally infirmed and emotionally crippled. We have consistently recruited from a company whose chief output was gross incompetency, egotistic rage, and an inability to organize a bowel movement – let alone run an IT team. You may think I am just venting here, but in reality, there is an overwhelming body of evidence to support my conclusions.  If anyone who is a JP Morgan veteran reads this and is offended, let me say, “Good, you deserve it!”  Rather than get pissed, why don’t you prove me wrong? I’ve been waiting for years for one of you to at least try. Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.

I covered for a LOT of gross managerial incompetence over the years. I can’t count the times I have been deliberately lied to by several senior leaders, two of which were vice chairmen who assured me a directorship.  Thanks to them, while I am not a porcupine expert, I know a prick when I see one.  It is tempting to cite examples, but the list is long and less-than-glorious.  Some believe if you dress like Steve Jobs that makes you a visionary.  Others confuse recording videos for actually leading. For years, I sat back and allowed lesser men and women take credit for my work and use it to advance their own careers.  For God’s sake, we sent one portly director, who had been laid off, to Agile training in London the week prior before his departure!  At the same time, I was told I couldn’t travel for legitimate business needs because of severe travel budget constraints.

I took the honorable road, trotting upon the moral high-ground.  It was never easy and to this day I regret not punching two of them, and kicking one in the nut-sack, repeatedly.  Let me tell you, the moral high ground is a lonely place. I counted on the firm to recognize what it had in my skills and to reward it appropriately.  I told myself leaders would honor their commitments. In other words, I lied to myself.  I was not alone in that naiveté’; many of you did the same.  I assumed, over the years, that the firm would do the right thing.  For years I have been told I was a “High performer, high potential employee,” but was never even talked to when positions came available, even ones I applied for.

The machine of our IT Department is clearly flawed and broken.  We don’t even have a performance management system in place any longer and the role of counselor has been effectively neutered.  Bringing in outside vendors actually makes things worse, not better.  No one fights for the individual employees.  I tried, and this message is my final salvo in that slugfest. Locked, loaded, weapons-free and are hot…

I was an idealistic fool to have such lofty ideals of the organization; that the firm would recognize talent and promote it. I refused, up to my last day, to stoop to pandering and bootlicking to get ahead.  At least I walk away with a thin shred of my morals and dignity somewhat intact – though I’m sure this farewell message l has damaged a tiny bit of that. The difference is that I own this decision – this was my choice to hit send. It wasn’t my choice to be marginalized as a manager and employee.

When I go into offices where I should know people, I don’t see them.  We have lost the comradery and far too many of our friends and colleagues.  Our leaders have scared people into working at home, using “location strategy” as a weapon of fear.  It all has an impact.  We used to deliver complex technical solutions almost flawlessly.  Now we are years late, millions over budget, and when we do deliver, it is often a disappointment.  The sense of team has been lost – gutted by layoffs and tainted by a constant nagging fear which is the current foundation of our culture. Sadly I had a role in perpetuating this culture, and I hated every second of it. We cannot go backwards, but I sincerely hope that the leaders find a way to go forward that reignites that passion and sense of unity.  Not Borg-like unity though…that would be bad.

If at this point in this message you likely expect me to list out all of the great things of working here and why you should stay.  Clearly haven’t been paying attention.  Sorry to burst your precious little emotional bubble.  If I have offended anyone with this message, chances are it was intentional.  If these comments hit too close to home, well, perhaps you need to do a little self-reflection and personal adjustment.  You may say I am just a bitter person on the way out the door, and write off this message as angry ramblings of an ungrateful asshat.  I’m totally cool with that.  I am King of the Asshats.  I am confident that some of what I have written has hit home and rings true.  I believe that all it takes to change the world is one person who refuses to compromise their ideals and takes a stand.  My departure is my stand.  Let’s hope it ends up better than it did for Custer at the Little Big Horn.

If you want to stay in contact, you can follow my blog (blainepardoe.wordpress.com) or email me (bpardoe870@aol.com).  Facebook and twitter work as well.  My cell is 540-222-9805 and my home office is 540-937-9886.

I leave you with this, “And now my watch has ended…”

Mic drop…

Blaine Pardoe

PS. Should any of you opt for a rebuttal to this farewell message or offer a critique to my assessment, let me remind you that I have maintained adequate blackmail material from various Technology Conferences, emails, meetings, business trips, dinners, training events, etc, over the years.  My archive of photographic and documentary evidence alone should prevent you from saying too much negative about me.  My blog has close to 200k visitors to it each year and I’m not above naming names and providing examples once I leave.  Ponder this, as I hit the door, I have very little to lose and even less self-control when it comes to digital retribution. Moreover, I will have time on my hands to extract revenge…mwah ha ha ha.

Retiring? Here are the most humorous things to send in your retirement/departure email – Office Humor

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As I move to early retirement (so that I could write full-time), I started thinking about the farewell email message I might send. Being somewhat evil and a tad creative; this made me generate a list of lines that any retiree should be able to leverage in their goodbye to their organization. When your time comes to cut that umbilical cord/remove the ankle monitor; pick and use those that are most appropriate! Even better, combine these to create a really awesome departure message.

My own message that I have planned is a tad epic and months in the making.  Until then, this will have to tide people over.  ENJOY!

I would say I will miss you all, but let’s be frank – some of you are utter douchebags.  (I have kept a list!)

I will miss the office supply cabinet which has put three of my kids through college.

It was either retire or climb up on the roof with a scoped rifle and play “Duck duck goose,” the hard way.  My aim just isn’t what it used to be either.  Frankly, I just didn’t want to give any of you the time on the evening news calling me a, “Loner.”  I hope you appreciate my choice to simply retire.

I will no longer be party to the insanity that you call, “work.”  I have been an accomplice to this madness for far too long.

I would like to extend to all of you an invitation to my retirement dinner.  Unfortunately the company has cut back on this, especially in light of the amazing lack of work I have done over the years.  Instead I would invite you to join me in splitting a Happy Meal (with fries!).

The ongoing hostage situation (which I refer to as a career) has finally come to an end as I hereby announce my retirement/escape.

My plans upon leaving is to break into meth production.  From what I saw on the documentary “Breaking Bad,” it has a lot more potential than when I was here.

I miss you all…with every shot that I took.  You lucky bastards…

Should any of you need me, I will be glad to come back as a consultant – if you can afford my rates.  Hint – You can’t.  And even if you could, bear in mind I don’t need the gig and am likely to be much more vocal since I no longer have to worry about my ongoing employment.

Until I worked here, I never fully appreciated the phrase, “Going postal.” Thank you all for that.

This is probably a good time to tell you that Suzy is the one that has been stealing your lunches.  Do what you will with that knowledge.

My leaving allows you to blame the next four months of your failures on me.  Consider this a parting gift.

If I were to relate this place to a movie, it would The Shawshank Redemption and I’m off to my job as a bagger at the grocery store.

My departure at this time was my favorite quarterly goal I ever achieved that has mattered.

I will not miss the horrible food that the company provides for working lunches.  Rubber-chicken-salad-sandwich-wraps a meal doth not make.

I am trading a padded cell for a chaise lounge chair on a beach. Who’s winning now bitches?

As part of my retirement, I intend to dedicate myself to answering the greatest riddle plaguing mankind – “Why did I come into this room in the first place?”

I am pleased to say that I have attended my final company-mandated fun event (social events we are required to attend)

The good news – I’m leaving.  The bad news – I’m sending senior leadership a message explaining how you all actually spend your time here.

Now that I am leaving, it is probably a good time to tell you what is in the cafeteria’s Wednesday Special.  Hint – what animal meows?

As I move on, I leave you with this one thought.  When the company orders in lunch, they are not doing you a favor.  They are essentially telling you to work through lunch and keep the costs down by eating the food we have selected for you – regardless of your tastes or desires.  Yeah, I won’t miss that shit.

I can finally go to the bathroom when I need to, not when the meeting is over.  My body functions are finally my own!

The horribly incriminating photographic and documentary evidence of your collective incompetence will be posted to the web two hours after my departure.  Sucks to be you.

To those of you remaining, “May the odds ever be in your favor.”

I appreciate all of you sending me your resume’s.  That isn’t how retirement works unless you want a job mowing my yard.  I get it, it’s an instinctive reaction when one of us “goes over the wall.”

For the last two years I have been working on a secret project for the company to monitor employee internet access.  You people disgust me!

As I move onto my next stage of life I do so with the knowledge that I will never again have to fill out a timesheet, and that is something exciting.

From this point on, when I travel, I can eat dinner where I want and with whom I want.  No more team dinners at places I would never desire eating at in the first place.

I do not desire a farewell party…but would like the cash option instead.

Don’t worry about how I will spend my time – I’m going to write a tell-all book about this place, naming names and implicating the guilty. Oh, wait – you SHOULD worry.

I finally understand what it means when I hear, “Get a life!”

As I depart, I want you to know that the toilet paper in the men’s room is made of the crushed souls of those who have gone before me.  That is why it is so thin that you can see through it.

My departure means my work has to be done by some of you.  Suckers!

The only barking dog I have to deal with is my own – not yours on some conference call.

In leaving I acknowledge that my entire career has been built on the premise of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I was going to stay, then I realized one thing – I never intended to do or liked this job in the first place.

They say you own your own career…so I’m owning this part.  Good bye!

I bid farewell to the wasted time before the start of a meeting when we ask about the weather.  The only weather I care about is my own.

Say what you will about me after I’m gone – but I will never dread Monday’s again.

I will never again cringe because someone hits reply all.  That doesn’t happen out in the real world.

I’m officially a quitter.  Totally comfortable with that new title too.

I would love to tell you that I’m spending my retirement time doing volunteer work – but I think we all know that’s not happening.

I will never have to scrounge like a beggar for a phone line, office space, privacy or a wifi signal.

It is important for you to know I will never have to deal with information security out in the real world.

Sadly my departure means that the war crimes cases against most of our senior leadership will never go to trial.  I am leaving behind my extensive records, should anyone else want to take up the cause.

As a parting gift to all of you, I laced the coffee with laxative and have stolen all of the toilet paper in the building.  Cheers!

I intend to dedicate my retirement years to medical research work – namely I will be conducting a personal study on the effects of alcohol and sleeping in on longevity.  Look forward to my results…

As you toil away at your jobs, know this – I will never again have to take mandatory training on something that has no applicability to my life ever again. In the real world we call this, “Winning!”

I will miss this place during the holidays…when I would come in and steal tape and scissors for wrapping holiday gifts.

I look forward to my last hour when the company finally removes my obedience ankle monitor and sets me free.

The changes to my dress code will be minimal, adding in a “pants optional” for Wednesdays. Also I have added “VERY casual Fridays.”  So if you are planning to visit, I’d recommend other days to do so.

I will be reducing the number of people that don’t listen to my pearly words of wisdom and witty insights down to my dog and my wife.

Retirement will finally give me time to perfect my Death Ray that I have been working on, though it will limit the number of targets since I will no longer have coworkers.

Leadership finally achieved something — they convinced me it was time to get the hell out of this place.

My retirement plans include me becoming that old fart that yells at the kids for getting on his lawn.

I will no longer receive emails annually encouraging me to donate money to the company-favored charities or causes I don’t believe in.

My first week away from work will be spent responding to robocalls about my truck’s warranty expiration, Microsoft detecting problems with my account, fending off arrest by the IRS, and issues with my Apple account. I intend to waste these bastards time to the point where they never bother me again.

Once I leave I cannot foresee the need to do a conference call ever again in my life.

Know this, I will only change my passwords when I choose to do so!

Going forward when I say something inappropriate or insensitive to others, the only ones that can report me are my wife and my dog – and the dog isn’t talking (we have an agreement that is treat-based).

I will never roll out of bed early for a meeting, log on, only to find that during the night, someone cancelled it.

My parting gift to all of you is that I sent a list of your work and cell phone numbers to every telemarking firm I could find on the dark web.  Enjoy!

The only reorganizing that will impact my life is what I do in the garage at my leisure.

For all of you, my departure means that you will have ample office supplies, since I will no longer be taking them home in bulk.

I would like to schedule time to have lunch with you now and then and get caught up with stuff going on at work…but I really don’t care and you’ll be all rushed so that you can get back to that all-important next meeting.  You know, it’s just not worth my investment of time.

I am afraid I have to cancel the traditional farewell dinner for my retirement.  Apparently the company will not spring for stripper poles…so this is totally on them.

There are several pieces of work that I nearly have completed that I want you to finish and take credit for.  Aw, fuck it…you’ll figure them out for yourself.

If I eat in a cafeteria I will do so because I want to, not because it is the only dining option before I run to my next meeting.  PS.  I will never want to eat in a cafeteria again.

I will not have to make sure I have a badge to go and return from a trip to the bathroom.

Retirement means I will no longer have to keep a list of idiotic acronyms just so I can converse with people around me.  In fact, “people around me,” will consist of my dog and my wife…which is a marked improvement.

My “annual review” will consist of turning my head and coughing — which is still preferable to the painful and agonizing process of having someone give me mindless and often pointless feedback to justify a shitty raise.

Since I am no longer limited by the firm’s designated holidays, I am implementing the following additions to my calendar (replace with your own name where appropriate):

  • St. Blaine’s Day (Primarily a drinking holiday – date assigned at random by me.)
  • The Fifth of Pardoe (Celebrated on the 5th of November)
  • BlainetoberFest – It’s just Octoberfest but with more me.  We drink, wear lederhosen, play the bagpipes, fight, have belching contests, pin the tail on the politician, liar-liar-set-your-pants-on-fire, you know…traditional BlainetoberFest events.
  • Margarita Appreciation Day (A floating holiday – get it?)
  • Non-Labor Day (March 1 – six months away from Labor Day)  This day commemorates all of us that no longer work full time and mocks those that do.
  • Parole Day (commemorating my last day at work – usually proceeded by Parole-Eve, which involves presents)
  • Pardoeween (You put on a super hero t-shirt and go to other retiree’s houses and do shots)

In order to prove I am a retiree, I will be starting to pack for trips at least two weeks prior to the date of travel (this seems to be a thing – though I am not sure why.)

When I set an alarm, it will be for something I want to do…as opposed to something I have to do.

I will be meeting people via the organizations I will be joining – namely the NRA and AARP (I finally have time to read their literature.)

My departure from the company means that the threat level for workplace violence has dropped from Orange to Amber.  Shit could still go down, but it won’t involve me.

When I travel from this point on, it is for book tours, holidays, or because I want to.  The only approval I have to get is that of my wife and I don’t need a charge code, email verification, written PPD authorization, nor will the firm chose where I stay and how much I can spend.

Just so you know, I intend to spend my first day of freedom prying the tiny diamond out of my company pin and seeing how much I can get for it.

Machines will no longer control me.  Rather than reminders in Outlook, my time will be measured by when the dog needs to go out and when the mail arrives.   No more calendars or Skype messages dinging to tell me what to do next.

While you are inadvertently aggravating coworkers over email, I will be deliberately upsetting people via social media…just for the grins.

All of those tchotchke’s I have from the firm from training events, anniversaries, and meetings?  It is my intent to set them all on fire and watch them burn slowly. It will be toxic and fun at the same time.  I no longer have a desire to keep the block of plastic that commemorates my 20th anniversary here.

While I will be taking some classes that I desire which are fun and will be adding to my creativity and character; you will be taking courses on password management, diversity and inclusiveness, and blockchain.  Suckers!

The only cloud I will give a shit about is the ones out on a sunny day.  Sidebar:  I will actually get to go outside on a sunny day in the middle of the week.  Ha!

As a parting gift to those of you still stuck here, I have hidden some career enabling materials in the  office including photos of our department head having sex with a goat (blackmail material), tape recordings of the senior leaders plotting the next wave of layoffs (complete with names and dates), and the REAL strategic plan for the team.  These are hidden somewhere in the office and will assist you in your careers.  Have at it! (Sometimes I just do shit to watch the chaos.)

I am more than willing to come back as a contractor to do the job that I never was rewarded for doing in the first place.  PS.  I seriously doubt you can afford my rates.

Being retired means I will never again have to suppress a moan or groan in a meeting when I hear something utterly stupid.

You have to keep track of a limited number of vacation days (provided that the firm doesn’t force you to use them all at their whim.)  I only have to keep track of days that I have things I have to do.  Winning!

Know this – the only fully documented and flowcharted process I give a shit about going forward is…wait…I won’t have to give a shit about these things.

The phrase, “Mandatory Learning” will be purged from my personal lexicon.  Likewise I will not have to take tests and pass with 80% or better on anything in life other than my driver’s license.

No one will be defining my dress code other than my wife.  She has orders to shoot me on sight if I am seen wearing shorts, black socks, and sandals – FYI.  The same applies if I wear pants where the waist band is around my nipple region.

I invite the senior leadership of the organization to raise a glass and toast me as I leave.  Of course, I fully intend to lace their drinks with ExLax.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Know this…as a retiree, I will never again have to waste time putting together a RACI chart that no one will ever read or use.  I cannot tell you how worthless every RACI chart ever assembled has been.  WON’T MISS THESE.

As I reflect back on my years here, I do have some regrets.  These regrets include:

  • Not kicking my 14th manager in the nuts (repeatedly).  It wouldn’t have changed anything but it would have made me feel better.  God that man was a moron.  Even to this day, the mental image of him doubled over clutching his freshly crushed scrotum with the imprint of my sneakers makes me smile.
  • I should have sold my soul early-on for promotion.  Unfortunately I possessed “values” and “morals” and a wise-ass mouth which prevented me from applying the appropriate amount of ass-kissing to advance my career.  No, wait, I take it back – I don’t regret this at all!
  • I wish I had stood up in a town hall, just once, and mooned our leadership team. God knows they deserve it.
  • Day drinking, as in, I should have taken this up.  It would have helped…or at least it couldn’t have hurt.  I regret not giving it a try.
  • I wish I had taken advantage of some of the training available to me.  Far too often I let the burdens of work overpower my desires for self-growth.  Worse, I had some managers that simply made attending such learning impossible…douchebags.
  • I should have stolen a LOT more in the way of office supplies.  And I should have branched out to stealing office furniture.  For the record, I did devise a plan for this.
  • I wish I had never worked overtime. I worked a lot of overtime in my years here – and it was almost always because of bad decisions by managers or a misguided belief that it helped my career.  I even took calls while on family vacations.  It was all an utter waste.  There was no reward – no extra compensation, for that lost time from my family.  It doesn’t help you get promoted but is held against you if you don’t do it.  I should have walked out the door and spent time with anyone other than my work colleagues.  Not one hour of overtime ever mattered.
  • I should have exploited travel/reward points over what was good for the firm.  So many people I know have abused travel policy to enrich their personal reward points at hotels and with airlines, it makes me nauseous.  I always did what was right for the firm, where they needlessly attended or held meetings out of country, added extra flight segments, stayed at more expensive hotels, etc.  I regret not being as a big a douchebag as many of my peers when it comes to abusing these policies for personal gain.
  • Every minute spent “polishing” a PowerPoint slide deck for some leader who couldn’t read to begin with.  All of those little tweaks that management felt were so important…a complete waste of time.

In my retirement, I will not have some corporate entity telling me what colors (four) or fonts (two) and what graphic images I can use while at the same time telling me they “encourage creativity.”

My email will no longer have a tag line attached to it that makes no sense, or is something I simply think is a joke.  I will write my own tag lines to life.

Throughout my career I have often had two to five managers at a time.  This often led to confusion, conflicting orders, and unnecessary tension.  In my retirement years the only person telling me what to do is my spouse, and I gleefully look forward to her input.

The only persons cutting my budget will be my financial advisor or my wife; and it won’t be random and arbitrary.

Unlike you, I will never have to update my resume’, Linkedin Profile, or anything related to my alleged career ever again.

I will be able to freely swear during the daytime without wondering if I am going to get a call from the Talent Team about my professionalism.  (Sidebar:  What a stupid name for a team, right?  Talent?  Really?)

Any meeting I attend going forward (and there will be damned few of them) will start on-time. The worst of you are those that show up late then ask to be caught up.  Seriously, you just aren’t that important.

There will be a time when you are sitting in a meeting and you know that if I was there, I would be making a funny face (usually in disgust) or throwing out a witty comment.  When that happens, know I will be only making funny faces and witty comments to either my dog or my wife…neither of which will think it is very humorous.

I have often felt that this place was an asylum and am ashamed that it took this long for me to formulate the proper escape plan.

I enter into retirement with a certain amount of glee…knowing I will never again have to sit on a project RAID call, rolling my eyes and fighting back the urge to sleep.

As I look back at my time here, one question keeps coming to me over and over…”Was it worth it?”  The answer to that is, “If it had been, I wouldn’t be retiring – duh!”

Now that I am done here, I intend to get a new role as an intern at another company.  I’m pursuing this to improve myself…and validate that I would rather work for nothing than work in his dump and suffer the constant humiliation and degradation that are the hallmarks of our leadership team.  Way to motivate!

I will miss the annual Christmas Party…in the same way I miss family reunions, getting my eyes dilated, colonoscopies, and root canal.  A plate of cheap h’orderves and two watered down drinks don’t instill the sense of loyalty you might think. I appreciated the annual reminder that you really don’t care.

I will never again strain during a three hour meeting to suppress a fart or hold my bladder for two hours while some manager pontificates on something that is of marginal importance.  I will go the bathroom and pass gas on my schedule, not my coworkers’.   Ahh….

None of the bad decisions I will do from this point on will be based on screwball and often faulty information from Gartner or the Corporate Board.  I will be using common sense and my own research, rather than relying on “expert” organizations that couldn’t find their ass with a flashlight and both hands.

Don’t think of this as me retiring…think of it as I have completed digging a tunnel out of this place and it only took me 25 years to reach the outside of the guard’s line.

As I ride off into the sunset, I would sum up my career with the following:  “In my defense, I was, for the most part, unsupervised during the majority of my working years.  This shit is all on you guys.”

As I depart I want to say, “It’s been real,” but that opens up the question, “real what?”  Really depressing?  Really aggravating?  Really a waste of time?  Really a model of how to not run a business?  Really a testimony to the folly of mankind?  Really a case study in idiotic management?  Wow, this is a really impressive list.

Retiring means that I will no longer need to curtail my language so as to avoid insulting anyone in a message or phone call.  I will call out bullshit, assholes, dumb-fucks, and anything else I want.  I will be able to use phrases like “You fuckety-fuck-fucking-fuck-face,” and now worry about HR giving me a call.  I’m retired bitches!  I have no HR in my life other than my wife.

In retirement I will no longer have to up my intake of blood pressure medication prior to the release of the annual promotion list.  I still reserve the right to say, “WTF?” should you call and tell me which morons got advanced.  I simply will stop caring about it.

Now that I am retiring, I will not have to take part in company programs that pander to the millennials and their numerous sensitivities.  I won’t have to check everything I say to see if it could possibly offend someone.  I won’t have to tolerate my company ignoring my needs as an older white male because of my “privilege.”

I knew it was time to leave when this place got so cheap they put in standing desks so they wouldn’t have to buy chairs.  Yes, I get it, some people like it.  I also know it was a clear signal for me to not come into the office to work.

Retirement for me means I will no longer be forced to attend after work social activities when traveling.  This “firm-mandated fun” has, over the years, proven to be quite the opposite.

Leaving means I will never again get frustrated by receiving an email that tries to explain that allowing us to wear blue jeans in the office somehow spurs on creativity and inclusiveness.  Seriously?

From this point forward the only “hotelling” I will be doing is when I check into an actual hotel, rather than reserving office space and a filthy phone.

Someday, not too far from now, you will be implementing a new software system.  You will hate it. The training will suck.  The communications will be all but worthless.  Management will be irate and blaming all of you for the failures.  When that happens, it is vital that you know that I will not be impacted by this in any way, shape, or form – nor will I give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about it.

My retirement means you will no longer be blessed with my snarky, often deeply inappropriate comments about our leadership team – especially when they do something totally moronic.  It is hard to keep such commentary fresh. Someone else will need to pick up the mantle on this role I so aptly performed.

I will never have to listen to someone with less experience and knowledge than I possess attempt to coach me on my “career.”

I will no longer be forced to use code names for things that I am working on.  It will take a while to adopt this thinking.  “Sorry honey, I have to take the TANK out for a walk then I need to mow the GORILLA and get some gas in the ZEPPELIN.”

As I move into retirement mode, I am freeing up 6 GB of space on my phone by deleting all of the annoying company required applications.  Never again will I have to have apps and data on my private smart phone to forcibly connect me to work, regardless of my private wishes.

While I am kicking back in full retirement mode, many of you will be investing long tedious hours in PowerPoint assembling/perfecting slide decks for people who, when you present them, are checking their text messages. While I was here, only five of my PowerPoint slides have ever been read.  I’m not saying it was an utter waste of my time but the math is the math.

I enter retirement knowing I will never again attend a meeting where everyone on the call decides to have, brace for it, another meeting.  Each time this happened in my career, a tiny bit of my soul was crushed.

Being retired means that I own my daily commute.  It is significantly shorter (sometimes just a stroll down the stairs), I control when it starts, where I am going, and it ceases to be frustrating.

As a retiree, the only diversity and inclusiveness efforts I will had to deal with is drinking scotch and tequila in the same afternoon.  In fact, there’s a big debate about waiting until the afternoon.

Now that I am going be retired, there are a number of words and phrases I am pledging to not use going forward.  These include: Downsizing, RIF, layoffs, right-sizing, rebadging, outsourcing, external vendors, staffing model, Agile, ITIL, DevOps, DevSecOps, annual reviews, mandatory feedback, Code of Conduct Compliance, company mandates, budgets, timesheets, and system outage.

Being in retirement, I can openly express my political and ideological beliefs without having to worry that it will impact my career.

In looking back at my career, one thing I will not miss is group writing projects where eight people try to contribute to a document or a PowerPoint slide.  These usually result in something that no one agrees upon, but everyone endorses, simply to put an end the debates.

With my departure from working full time, I’m cutting back to two micromanagers (from the 12 or so I had when employed).  My dog, which is constantly telling me to do something – and my wife, who has more than earned the right to tell me how to do what I’m doing.  All other people attempting to micromanage me going forward will be told, “Fuck off!”

One thing I will not miss is explaining to my manager how to manage a team. When I am asked what I would do if I were in charge, it demeans us both. Every time I coached upward served as a reminder as to how imperfect our promotion process is.

I will no longer forced to endure the company “suggesting” things for me to contribute to. Where I spend my money is my business and I don’t need help with that.  I have a wife that is plenty helpful in spending money.

In retirement I will never again get a phone call that begins, “I know you are on your vacation, but I need you to…”

Now that I am moving into retirement, I will no longer be forced to attend team dinners at times and locations where I would never choose to eat.  I have long hated business trips and team dinners – and they are now going to be a fading memory.

With retirement I will cease the bouts of stress when I read about a company policy then read announcements that are completely contrary to it – such as D&I. This cuts my road to an aneurism by 82% according to my non-scientific calculations.

I have been meaning to take up drinking in a semi-professional capacity.  Certainly this place gave me more than enough emotional scars to consider it.  Now I will finally have the time and incentive to consume copious amounts of alcohol at my own discretion.

I do not want a farewell party or a roast. We were never really that close and you certainly shouldn’t get to celebrate my leaving.  Why?  Because it’s all about me.  Why should you get a meal and drinks out of this?  Just send me the cash and we’ll call it at night.

I have spent so much of my career in cubicle, I have had my bedroom walls padded just so I can make the transition to the real world a little bit easier.

In retirement I will be eating what I want for lunch, not what the firm has decided to provide me so that I can work through lunch.  I can drink the soda brand of my choice and never again have to indulge in rubber-chicken-salad-sandwich-wraps drenched in mustard so I don’t have to taste them.

I will never have to take a phone call in a JIT (Just in Time) booth that makes me claustrophobic, paranoid, and feeling like I’m trapped in an ever-shrinking glass phone booth where walkers-by can watch my hand and face gestures as I slowly become more insane.

I will never again be forced to choose between my career and my real life.

As I look back on my career with a sense of waste and anguish, I know one thing…I will never again be forced to use Microsoft Project.  Even if I ended up living in a cardboard box in my retirement, it would be worth it to avoid MS Project.

While you continue to work, I will never again have to use a badge to go to the bathroom.

Over the last decade, I often find myself fending off sleep during some mind-numbing presentation on some pointless, often mismanaged project.  In retirement, I will embrace sleeping whenever I feel like it (except behind the wheel, that’s bad.)

While you toil on, know that I will never again face the struggle of getting Finance to reimburse me for a trip, while I end up floating the money to American Express so that I don’t end up on some list somewhere. I will gleefully destroy my Amex corporate card and the phone number to the help desk for expense reimbursement/delaying.

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is not having to stay up until 11pm to have a phone call with someone halfway around the world.  From now on, I call when it is convenient for me – not the company.

One thing I will miss about the office is when I was compelled annually to purchase Girl Scout cookies.  This was the one thing I was guilted into at work that I fully supported and openly endorsed.

No soulless and spineless manager will ever again question my loyalty. I was always loyal. I just had a life outside of work. Thanks for all that morale lowering shit.

Someone asked me how I will replace all of the relationships I have made at work.  Allow me to say that all of you can be replaced with a good dog and a loving spouse…period.  It really isn’t that hard.

As I set sail into the sunset of my life, know that as I hoist my sails, I am leaving you, the anchors, at the dock where you belong.

When I get up and turn on my PC, I will no longer dread looking at my inbox as it load in the morning.  Work made me hate email, even when the messages were quasi-positive.  Gone is that sense of trepidation each morning.  Now I can concentrate on important emails, like those ads that promise that their pills will make your penis bigger.

Never again will I have to worry about how someone will misinterpret an email message that I have sent, or contemplate if my PowerPoint slide might be taken in the wrong way.  From this point on, I can use the words I desire to express my true feelings rather than couch what I write.

I honestly think I will miss the bitch sessions with my former colleagues once I have retired. Criticizing leadership is a true art form and we have masters in that craft working here.  We are fully enabled by the actions, inactions, and messages from the people at the top of the organization are such a hot mess.

One of the things I am looking forward to in retirement is that no one will take credit for the work that I do.  Not that anyone will want to claim they mowed the yard or took out the trash, but it is nice not having someone steal credit for the effort that I did.

I am pleased to say that the only D&I program that I will ever have to cope with again is Drinking and Insulting; two things I already relish and excel at.

For those of you that have, over the years, taken credit for my work.  Allow me to share this simple and concise thought.  Fuck you.  Just because I worked for you or you were on my team did not entitle you to claim you were the creator when I did all of the actual work.  And yes, I know you got your promotion or your little bonus because of you stealing my effort.  Moreover, I made sure a lot of people knew the truth.  Everyone knows you are the king/queen of the douchebags.

Wow, did that feel good!  My actual retirement letter is, well, classic and goes way beyond these.  Please share this with people nearing retirement to give them inspiration!

Wastes of Corporate Time and Money

IMG_0999 (1)

Over the holiday break, I started to think about work.  It happens to all of us.  I started to think about all of the things we do in the world of the Corporate Overlords that are wasteful – both in terms of time and money.  We do many of these, “because we always have.” We often don’t think about or even question the usefulness of the process.

So here is my list of things that are utter wastes of time and effort:

Year-End Department Reviews and Recaps.  Every company does this.  “What did we accomplish over the last year?” Hours are wasted putting together a reminder that management is claiming credit for all of the hard work that you do.  We all know what we accomplished and it is embarrassing that we have to document it for our leadership.  Way to motivate!

Defining What Services Your Team Delivers.  “We need to catalog all of the services we provide.”  If your team has to invest time detailing what services you deliver, then your team is not really needed.  Talk about an exercise in navel gazing.

Company Mandated Fun. Company picnics, happy hours, team bowling, etc.  It is bad enough that I have to go to work every day for 9-10+ hours, but for the company to expect me to show up after work…well, that is douchebaggery.

Regular Status Reports or Meetings.  Preparing status reports is useful if you need decisions to be made or if there are issues that need to be addressed.  Otherwise these are pointless cost wasting efforts. I include in this RAID meetings where the status of the risks never changes.

Annual Reviews Where the Manager/Counselor Cannot Influence Raises or Promotions.  Organizations love to keep salary information secret, because if we knew what people were getting paid it would cause rioting in the streets.  If you can’t tell me how I am compared against my peers and how that impacts my career and money; why do we need to talk?

Town Hall Meetings Just For the Sake of Having Them.  “We didn’t have a lot to tell you, but it’s been a while since we shoved PowerPoint slides down your throat.” Some managers mistake having these meetings as “leading.” Let me help you, it is not.

Rebranding (anything).  Rebranding rarely solves problems. Calling something by a new name does not fix any underlying problems that exist.  In fact, most things tagged with the word, “branding” are mislabeled and misunderstood. If anything, it adds to the confusion.

Communications Reviews. Nothing defines time-wasting like someone who sends around a message or email for review and input.  By the time you get eight people to contribute to anything, it is diluted and usually much longer than necessary.  No one has ever been fired because of a lack of proper sentence structure…just send the damn message.

Enforcing Company PowerPoint Standards. This screams “Hi, we’re here to stifle creativity!”  Companies like to box in innovation by saying, “Your PowerPoint decks have to adhere to our dull, boring, bland, and emotionless standards.  PowerPoint standards are pointless monotony in digital form. Yes, I understand that it is all about the company brand.  But you are also telling your customers that you don’t flex enough to demonstrate creativity.

Webcasts or Meetings With Live Audiences and Clearly Staged Questions.  We have all been there, when someone gets up and is clearly reading a prepared question. Save me some time – write that stuff down and email it to me.  Or better yet, don’t!

Timesheets for Internal Functions/Teams.  Timesheets are the bane of business.  I actually worked in one place that had a charge code for the time used to fill out timesheets.  Back office operations don’t need this.  We are not billable.  Our utilization is irrelevant for billing purposes. Having administrative activities fill out time sheets is an utter waste of time and effort.

Eighty-Percent of Live Meetings.  There are times, rarely, when a face-to-face meeting is needed.  Usually it is not.  More often than not these meetings are held so that people can rack up their frequent flyer/hotel points.

Creating Mission Statements.  I dedicated an entire blog post on this one.  Humorous Mission Statements ‘Nuff said.

Learning With Required Pass/Fail Tests. This does NOT prove that you understand the content.  It only proves that you have passed the test.  It doesn’t drive a bit of behavior.  And who was the moron that thought that 80% was a passing level?

Employee Satisfaction Surveys.  I am all in favor of doing surveys, if you intend to take the data and do something with it.  I took one for years where the results clearly pointed to issues with leadership. The actions that were taken were to educate us, the staff, because clearly we didn’t realize how awesome our leadership was.  The action that should have been taken was to fire some of those managers (or break their kneecaps, I’m pretty flexible here.) When they saw the results, most leaders spent their time either trying to track down who gave the negative feedback or to argue why the data was invalid.  “We were in the middle of reorganizing…so you can disregard the negative stuff.”  Morons.

Company Dress Codes.  I remember when the firm I work for allowed blue jeans on Fridays (only in the summer).  They called them dungarees.  Seriously.  Wow, talk about dating yourself!  Most offices, in a vain attempt to appear more hip to the millennials, have pretty much ignored dress codes…but for some reason keep them up to date.  It’s a pointless exercise at best – a wasteful one at worst.

Meaningless Compliance Exercises.  Annually you must read the code of conduct, then click on five buttons to acknowledge that you will follow it.  Nothing says trust like a forced reading assignment.  It also does not assure compliance, only that you acknowledged you read the material.  It’s akin to clicking on a software licensing agreement.  We all do it, but do any of us sit and read that stuff word-for-word?

Videos About Senior Leaders.  Look, if your ego is so big that you have to order videos created about how great you are, well, you’re a douchebag.

Providing Feedback For The Sake of Providing Feedback. Most feedback we get in the world of the Corporate Overlords is fluff…meaningless praise. People don’t want to give critical feedback because it upsets people and requires uncomfortable follow-up discussions and usually a dab of retribution.  Forced feedback accomplishes little.

Dashboards For The Sake of Having a Dashboard. If it doesn’t drive decisions, actions, or raise concerns…it is a waste of effort and time. The more graphic intensive it is, usually the more wasteful.  Can we only produce these monstrosities when there is a problem looming?

Meetings That Could Have Been Emails Instead. I traveled an hour and a half to attend a meeting that lasted 20 minutes.  That could have been covered in a two sentence email.  A lot of meetings are utter wastes of time.

Every Self-Help Diagnostic Tool or Bot Ever Written.  Memories of Microsoft’s talking paperback haunt my dreams.  Does this feel familar?  “Did this answer your question?”  “No”  “Why didn’t it? (Provide response in this box).  “Because it didn’t have the answer.”  “How would you rate this response?  “Do you have something below one star?”  I get it, robotics – automation.  It’s a cost cutting move. Write a bot, lay someone off.  I have yet to encounter a self-help tool that actually helped or provided a meaningful answer.

People Presenting Information in a Meeting by Reading to You The Slide They Are Showing.  “It may shock you Veronica, but I can actually read on my own.  I have been for years!”  If all you are doing is reading, you should not have been allowed to schedule a meeting.

Working Through Lunch. “I’ve ordered in food so we can work through lunch.”  “All that proves is that you are an asshat.  Oh, and how did you know what I wanted to eat?  Jackass.”  Most people can barely do one thing at a time well.  Eating and working – generally is non-productive. Why not let everyone step out for a half-an-hour to eat?  Is your productivity gain really worth that rubber-chicken-salad-sandwich-wrap’s cost? Also, I don’t want to watch other people eat – especially coworkers.

Any Trophy, Plaque, or Award and The Cost to Present/Ship Them.  The time for me to get awards was back in high school.  I have a box in my basement filled with hunks of plastic thanking and congratulating me on stuff that I have done or accomplished at work.  They mean so much to me I stuff them in a box. I swear, I will burn them one day.

Exit Interviews.  Seriously, has HR ever taken tangible action based on exit interviews?  These are designed for one thing – to ferret out possible lawsuits as an employee leaves – period.  Think about it, at that stage, it’s a bit late for action, isn’t it?

So what have I missed?  Please add in the comments.  Oh, and check out my funny book on work – Business Rules.

Office Humor – Corporate Training Classes That Should Exist

Training

I was recently looking for a learning course at work and was overwhelmed by all of the options.  As I scrolled through the titles, I realized that no one was writing courses designed for the real world.  Learning content seemed to me to be written for a perfect organization rather than the highly chaotic and disruptive places where many people work (not me of course, my company is perfect…wink wink.)

So I took at stab at putting together some titles that I think could and should be created for those of us slaving under the oppression of the Corporate Overlords.  Enjoy!

How to Not Be a Douchebag.  Includes techniques for not betraying the confidence of those working for you.  Purging your inherent douchebaggery is possible in three easy lessons.

Advanced Asskissing and Bootlicking.  Sure, everyone knows the basics.  This class will help you kick things up to the next level in terms of burying your nose in the ass-crack of upper leadership.

The Art of Stealing Credit For Others Work.  Work happens all around you.  How can you take advantage of that?  This class helps you tactfully imply that the successes others are doing are because of your divine influence.

Using Voodoo On Your Coworkers. There’s more to it than sticking pins in dolls, it is a lifestyle  choice.

Intermediate Stealing of Office Supplies. Anyone can take a stapler or a stack of sticky notes.  It takes real skill to dismantle an office chair and smuggle it out without anyone noticing.  Welcome to the world of Intermediate theft!

Training 2

Waffling for Mid-Level Managers.  Flip-flopping on decisions and direction is less of a managerial style and more of an artform.  This class will give you hands-on experience in not committing.

Teams – Crushing Them Isn’t Always The Answer.  Sure, stomping on the soul of your team seems like a source of entertainment – but it isn’t necessary.

Time Mismanagement.  Anyone can triple book their calendar, this class takes this to the next level.  Learn how to completely ignore the space time continuum in your managerial direction and decisions.

Meetings – You Too Can Start On Time! Starting a meeting on-time is respectful of those who show up and demonstrates good organizational skills.  In six easy lessons, you will learn how to read a clock, connect to a meeting (or just show up), start the meeting, read an agenda, and even end on time!

Reorganizations – You Can’t Be Reorganized if You Were Never Organized In the First Place.  When you reorganize, you are telling the team that the problems they faced were because of how they were restructured.  When you reorganize 5-12 times, you are telling them that the problem is you

Resisting the Urge to Micromanage…You Aren’t as Good as You Think You Are.  I get it, you have an urge to tell people how to do their jobs…but in reality, you should be telling them what you want them to do, not how to do it.

Micromanagement

Success! It DOES exist and you can measure it.   It may be hard to believe, but you CAN actually do things right.  I know, it surprised me too.  This course will help you know success when you see it, and track it.

Microsoft Outlook – How to Use the Scheduling Assistance Function.  As shocking as it seems, it is possible to schedule meetings that don’t conflict with others.  You will amaze other managers with this skill!

How to Not Use Reply All – Not Everyone Gives a Shit What You Think.  As shocking as it seems, using Reply All is not mandatory nor is anyone fooled into thinking that you are actually contributing when you click on it.

Using Your Town Hall Meeting To Hypnotize Your Teams.  You’re already droning on and on, this allows you to leverage this to get them to do more work, cluck like a chicken, whatever…

Doing What Your Commit To.  Saying it and doing it are, brace yourself, two different things.  This course exposes leaders to a new trend in business, actually delivering.  Learn how to avoid pointless and mind-numbing delays.

Creatively Abusing The Company’s Sick Time Policy.  Here’s 80 hours of time you should be taking full advantage of.  Learn that with Millennials in the workplace, you can claim “Mental Health Days” as sick time, and other tricks to buy yourself two weeks of rest.

Making Someone Else Accountable For Your Deliverables.  Why should you bear the burden of all that work?  This course will help you dump your workload onto others while still being able to claim credit for it.

How to Not Schedule Meetings During Employee Vacations of Outside of Normal Working Hours.  You do know we don’t work at 8pm at night, right?  This leadership-level course is designed to help managers understand what a typical working day is and how to tell if one of your invitees is on paid holiday!

Legally Threatening Your Staff.  Sometimes they just need a boot to the ass, don’t ya think? If you do that, you find yourself with HR.  There are a myriad of ways to threaten your staff that are legal though…let us teach you.

Believe it or Not It is Legal to  Present Without PowerPoint. You too can do a presentation without reading what you put on a slide.  This “innovative” approach to presentations focuses on the story you want to tell and the facts, rather than your insipid attempts at graphics.

Creating the Illusion of Busyness.  You don’t always have to be busy to look busy.  These simple techniques will make you look overloaded with minimal effort.

Shutting Off Your Phone – It’s Not Just For Vacations Anymore.  We get it, you want to create the illusion you are busy by coming to the meeting and being on your phone sending texts.  No one is buying it.  This class will show you where the off-switch is and how to use it.

Proving You Are Smarter Than Your Colleague.  It’s not enough to be smart, sometimes you need to rub their noses in it and prove it.  This class includes the effective, “Surround yourself with idiots,” or SYWI technique to ensure you can be the smartest one on the call or in the room.  These time-tested approaches will guarantee that no one will call you a dumb-ass – you’ll always be a smart one!

If you like these, check out my book, Business Rules, A Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.

Office Humor – A Typical Day At Work

Email3

I am always looking at ways to explore the culture of work and stretch my writing skills.  As such, I give you a typical day at work.  Now, this isn’t necessarily about me or the company I work for, but written to apply to anyone in any corp.  So plow on, share, and enjoy…

6:15am – Wake up and get ready for work.  Looking in the mirror, I ask, “Where did all of that gray hair come from?”  Oh, wait, that’s right…MY JOB!

6:45am – I work at home, so with no commute, I feel guilted into starting early.  People that work at home know exactly what I mean, that ever-present fear that someone will think you are goofing off if you are not online and available 9-10 hours a day.  I go downstairs to my desk and power up my PC.  It begins an update that I had not anticipated.  Sigh.

6:55am – Update finishes with a reboot.  Of course it does.  I go and get a life-affirming glass of Diet Mountain Dew (I don’t drink coffee)

6:59am – I fire up email.  Holy shitballs…where did all of these messages come from?  My favorite comes from a colleague in the UK.  The sent a message four hours earlier – now he is demanding for an update.  Apparently, ‘Well, I was asleep when you sent it, Dillweed…” is not the appropriate response.  Duly noted for future reference.

7:26am – Successfully finish deleting completely irrelevant emails that were sent to me by vendors who have the delusion that I make purchasing decisions in our company.  Silly vendors.

7:35am – Start reviewing and replying to those emails that are not part of some mind-numbing string of messages.

8:59am – Join first meeting of the day.  I notice I’m the only one on the call at the designated start time.  I check my calendar.  Where in the hell are the other 13 people? Has the call been cancelled? Immediately I think I’ve made a mistake.  Then I remember the people I work with.

9:12am – The meeting actually starts with eight people in attendance. The key decision maker is not on the call.  So why are we here?

9:13am – Bob pings me in Skype.  ‘I can’t join the call, can you pull me in?”  Suddenly I am tech support for this call.  Fucking Skype!  I suck Bob into the call.  Why am I being punished?

skype

9:18am – We pause the meeting to bring the key decision maker that just joined the call up to that point.  What an asshat.

9:50am – I ask “So what have we decided?  What are our action items?”  Someone in the meeting suggests we have another meeting to discuss these.  A tiny bit of my soul dies.  Sadly, three others on the call agree.

9:59am – I join my second meeting of the day.

9:10am – The meeting starts because a handful of people apparently can’t tell time. You see the trend here, right?

9:14am – Someone’s dog is barking in the background on the call.  So far the dog makes the most brilliant contribution to the call thus far.

9:18am – The PowerPoint being presented in the meeting is unreadable and confusing.  I secretly wonder if the presenter has gone off their medication. Her choice of graphics causes questions like, “Why is that box blue?”  Soon we are no longer talking about the subject, but how it is presented.  We are all dumber for having viewed her slides.  I mentally note that she is a candidate for promotion.

10:58am – Impromptu call from someone who cannot cut to the chase as to what they want.  Facepalm.  “For God’s sake get the point please…” My Diet Mountain Dew, which I desperately need, is just out of my reach.

11:15am – The moron finally gets to the point.  “I hate to tell you Bob, that isn’t my team’s responsibility.”  Bob hears my recommendation as to who to call, but tells me he is opting to ignore it.  It is akin to someone saying, “I’m going to ignore gravity today.”  “Bob – you gotta be you.”  That is 16 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

11:32am – My bladder is about to explode when someone pings me and calls.  They missed the call at 9am and want me to repeat everything we didn’t accomplish on the call.

11:44am – I have three minutes in the bathroom.  I need five minutes, but we all know by now that isn’t going to happen.  My computer is beeping in the other room. I try to ignore it, I really do.

12:08pm – I throw together “lunch” (a Pop-Tart and an apple) and sit at my PC, responding to emails that are trickling in.

12:22pm – My manager calls.  She has an “opportunity” for me.  It is work assigned to her that she feels should be assigned to me.  Oh, it was due two days ago.  “Is that a problem?”  Apparently that was a rhetorical question, she really didn’t want my response (which was both snarky and biting.)

12:39pm – I check Amazon – they do not sell time machines or fulfilling careers. Sigh.

12:40pm – I check a news website and there has been a workplace shooting in Ohio. I silently wonder if that is a viable option to the hell I find myself in.

12:44pm – I get an email response from a co-worker which confirms that he cannot read.  It takes a lot of restraint to not write back:  “I appreciate your response and answer – but I would prefer that you actually answer the question I asked you (below).”  I don’t type it because, well, we already established he can’t read.

12:59pm – I join my meeting.  After a late start – again, we spend five minutes trying to remember why we set this meeting up in the first place.  We eventually make something up.  Oddly enough, this is fulfilling.

1:20pm – Skype fails and we are all bounced from the call just as we are about to arrive at a solution. Fuck Skype.

1:28pm – We manage to rejoin the call in time to end it.

1:38pm – A friend rings me and we commiserate about our career choices.  Three new rumors!  At least two of these are pure bullshit.  The third one would have been frightening to me five years ago…now I am just numb.

1:40pm – A message about a reorganization in our department.  This is reorg number 387. “We might be able to get some work done if they didn’t keep changing who was responsible for it.” I read it carefully, looking for subtext, giving my leadership far more credit than they deserve.  Then I delete the last org chart, which I had already presumed was out of date when they published it.  They consistently believe that the problem is not their leadership, but how we are structured.  I guess number 387 is “the charm.”

1:43pm – My manager calls.  “That thing you have been working on…management has had a slight change of direction.”  All of the work I have done up to this point is worthless because of the ballless.  My manager attempts to convince me that this is a good thing.  I tear my stress ball in half, then calm myself with the knowledge that I get paid the same whether I’m doing something brilliant or idiotic.  Apparently they chose to pay me to waste my time.  Cool.

2:12pm – My second Diet Mountain Dew of the day. That ice cold can is my binky at this stage of the day.  It gives me hope, strength, and just enough motivation to stay logged on.  God bless the Pepsi Corporation!

2:18pm – Call from my manager.  “Have you started that project yet?  Well don’t.  We’ve had a strategic change of direction…”  I note her misuse of the word “strategic.”

2:20pm – I check Linkedin to see if there is someone hiring.  I find jobs but convince myself that those companies are as screwed up as ours is.  That, and I’m over 50 years old, and we know that companies don’t want to hire older employees.  Age discrimination is totally real, trust me.  I start thinking about a whole new career where I produce something tangible, something physical, rather than PowerPoint decks. It would be so nice to do something with my hands, if I had any skill other than writing (which, as you know by now, is questionable at best.)  Thinking about it makes me feel good for five whole minutes.

2:25pm – I actually start working on, well, work. The Europeans are heading home so the email slows to a minor torrent.  For we Americans, this is OUR time.

2:39pm – Notice from Information Security. They warn me to not open emails from sources I don’t trust. That should make work easy to do since I technically don’t trust anyone at the company – especially Information Security. Their very email causes a rift in the space time continuum.

3:00pm – A company webcast that is mandatory.  I have no idea why I am on the call.  I hot-key over and respond to emails that I received that were “Reply All” I’m so bitter at this point, I do the same. It is evil of me, and I embrace that.

4:00pm – Webcast ends. I receive a message from a friend, “Did I miss anything on that session?”  “No.  Honestly, it was more like a podcast for me – noise in the background.”

4:26pm – The torrent of emails subsides enough for me to go to the bathroom again.

4:40pm – Final sweep of the inbox occurs.  The two emails I didn’t respond to – they resolved themselves.  Winning!

4:48pm – I receive an invitation to a meeting at 5:00pm on Friday. “I’m sorry but it looks like it’s the only time open on everyone’s calendar.”  Duh.  There’s a reason for that, because we all want to go home. That “Winning!” feeling lasted exactly eight minutes.  Being a dick, I click “Tentative.”  Let her wonder if I’m going to show up or not.

Meeting

5:00pm – I check my schedule for tomorrow.  It eerily looks like todays.  I have a lot of emails to respond to and I think about working for an extra half hour or so to get through them.  Then I remember last year’s raise that I received and say, “Fuck it.” I’ve already had a ten hour day – there’s no way that another half hour is going to change things.

5:02pm – I go upstairs and see my wife.  “How was your day?”  “Same as yesterday.”  She hugs me and says, ‘I’m sorry.”

 

Did I miss anything?

Stages of Your Alleged Career – Entering The Triangle of Apathy

Career
That triangle above Disillusionment – that’s the Triangle of Apathy (trademark pending) 

Anyone who has read my book, Business Rules – a Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords, knows I am not a fan of the use of the word “career.”  While it applies in some specialty fields, in others it is a self-perpetuating myth.  People have jobs.  They desperately try and string jobs together to tell a story, but often it is a hot mess more than something that is cohesive.  Many people want careers, but in the real world, they have a job.

I have not mapped years to this because it varies for people.  Some people might burn through all of the stages in a matter of five years – some twenty.  Your results may vary.

So what are the stages of this mythical beast called a career?  Here’s my summary, for your reading entertainment.

Idealistic Stage.  You are young(er) with a twinkle in your eye and a bounce in your step. You believe that your long hours of hard work will be recognized and rewarded.  You go above and beyond to kick ass and takes names later.  Initially, it seems to work, encouraging more of this behavior.  Your first promotion or two creates the illusion that you are doing the right things to get ahead.  You confuse management with leadership at this stage.  Hell, it doesn’t matter, you are just happy to do your job.  There are a few older bitter employees, and you mock them openly because you see yourself smarter and more energetic than them.  Your “career” is not just about the paycheck, it’s about the challenge and the thrill you get as your learn new things.  The money is just as way for you to measure how well you are doing, like a ranking in a video game.

You find a specialty at work that intrigues you, and you become an expert in it.  It excites you to become the master of something.

When you go on business travel, it’s a party paid for by the company.  Your interests outside of work are limited because work seems awesome.  In fact, the things that make you happy and the relationships that seem to matter are all tied to your job and you don’t care. You identify mentors who you respect and they give you useful advice.  It is hard to imagine working anywhere else because the values of your organization seem to align with yours personally.

You are building your network in the organization…meaning you engage with many peers and form relationships that may help you in the future.  It is easy to do since many of you are just starting out.

Life is good because you can manage it.  Work and life get blurred, but that’s okay. You have a lifetime to sort that out.

Questioning State.  As you move higher in the organization, you notice that the behaviors that got you rewarded are taken for granted.  Upper management simply expects you to work long hours, they expect it from everyone.  You notice that some people that are promoted don’t share your work ethics or values.  Some advance because they are talented brown-nosers who kiss ass more than work.  You see people who advance based on technical skill rather than leadership capabilities.  Adding to this, the pace of promotions begins to slow down.

The company makes changes to your benefits and compensation and for the first time you question those changes. You notice that some people you respect either move on to other companies, or lose their jobs in one of the many reorganizations you start to experience/feel.  You see entire teams gutted, seemingly for no reason.  Still, you want to believe that the organization you work for cares about you – so you overlook most of these indiscretions, but a nagging voice in your head makes you wonder if you are a valuable member of a team, or merely a commodity.  You begin to ponder what your value is from the company’s perspective.

That thing you became an expert in…you realize you need more.  So you reinvent yourself, becoming an expert in another field.  For a short time that fulfills your joy, but it seems to fade fairly quickly.

The corporate rules becomes blurry and confusing as to what is expected of you as ambiguity becomes a competency.  You are confused by what you see, but cannot fully articulate what is happening.  You begin to question how the organization is run and who is leading it.

Money means a lot more at this stage of your career because you are more settled, have more responsibilities, and want/need more stuff.  You begin to notice that some people are treated better financially those others with bonuses and other incentives, and it bothers you because they are not distributed equitably.  It was probably always this way, but now you start to notice it more and ask, “Why?”  It’s not an overriding concern…yet.

You get to go to training, but much less often than earlier in your career.  It’s not for lack of desire, but there are always budget and timing questions that seem to block you.  You are hit with counters to your request like, “If you think you can afford to take three days to go to training in the middle of this critical stage of the project, go ahead.”  You become the bad person for even suggesting to take time off.

You still are working just as hard as you did, cranking up the long hours, but you are beginning to question if it is worth it.  Work-life balance starts to creep in as an issue.  You still travel without questioning whether it is needed or not.  You begin to question the bureaucracy and rules that you ignored earlier in your career.  Your pool of friends at work is starting to drain and it is harder to bring new people into that dwindling circle.

Disillusionment Stage. You feel as if you are a marked man or woman.  Your manager cannot tell you how to advance or grow in the organization because they are fighting to save their own phony-baloney jobs.  You see long-time friends and colleagues lose their jobs to downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, etc. When the promotion list comes out, it is something that infuriates and frustrates you.  “How could that imbecile get promoted and I can’t?”  There doesn’t seem to be any rules to follow or path to walk that can get you promoted.

You want to change jobs but the tentacles of your life and organization hold you tightly.  You have debt in life, you need to keep your medical plan, you don’t want to sacrifice your retirement plan by starting over at a new company, or you are so much older that other organizations won’t bother to interview you. (If anyone out there believes that age discrimination isn’t real, you’re a fool.)  Where you used to be comfortable with work and life blending together, now you want them separated.  You hate going on business trips at this stage of your corporate life because you have started to develop a life outside of work as a means of mental escape from the depressing grind that work has morphed into.

Training you want to take is expensive and the company refuses to send you…after all, why train someone who may only use those skills for the few years remaining in your careers?  At the same time, they ding you for not having the right skills.

The publication of the annual promotions list is a source of frustration and anger.  “How could they promote her?  He couldn’t find his ass with a flashlight and both hands!” are typical comments.  You are no longer sure what to do to progress or grow in your role because the rules are constantly in flux.  Despite this, people come to you to ask career advice and you do your best to help them.

Money plays a role here at this stage too.  You begin to compare notes with others and can see how you are not earning what you feel you deserve.  It makes you angry, but leadership brushes it off when you raise it with them.  “I can’t talk to you about what another person is making.” At this stage, money has become less of a necessity (you make enough) but more of a way to gauge yourself against others.

That network you built back when you were idealistic…it is dwindling.  RIF’s, layoffs, and outsourcing have cost some of your work-friends their jobs.  Some make sense, others seem random, almost arbitrary.  This has you wondering what leadership in your organization is thinking, if anything.

Your days are filled with PowerPoint slide decks and meetings to plan other meetings.  You think and speak in bullet points, even at home.  Vacation and holidays are often rushed, squeezed in between work deliverables, but deeply cherished.  You still check email while off, doing it in secret from your significant other.

In this stage you start to question business travel.  “Do I really have to be there live for two hours of meetings?”  You have a ton of points for hotels and airlines, but don’t seem to have the time to use them.  Your personal life seems suddenly to be more important than, “working for the man.” The things that make you happy are outside the office.

You are in an emotional prison, unable to move up in the organization, living in fear of layoffs, watching incompetent and unskilled people pass you by.  Your last mentor is contemplating suicide and blaming the company in the farewell note. As your company plays with your benefits, you feel powerless and impotent.  You won’t work an hour of overtime at this point; why bother?  Distrust in the organization is your default setting, and with good reason.

Your use of Linkedin supersedes your use of other social media.

Office 3

Survival Mode or “Shawshank Redemption” Stage. Less-than-subtle comments to you like: “We could hire three kids of out college for what we pay you,” or “I can move your job to India for a quarter of the cost,” are your “inspiration” at this stage.  You feel as if you have given the organization so much that you merely want to see this ride through to the bitter end.  That and you still cling to some of the values you had when you first started there.  You want to be back at the early stages of your career when you understood the rules of the game and it was fun to play.  You keep hoping that the leaders will go back to those ideals you cling to.

It helps to know where the skeletons are buried, mostly because you dug a lot of the holes over the years.

Your decisions are always weighed against, “Can they use this as an excuse to let me go?”  You have become that older prick you used to joke about in the organization.  Everything becomes clinging to the thing you have grown to hate, simply because it is a paycheck.  Your moments of inspiration and glimmers of hope are quickly squashed by others in leadership.

Vacations and holidays are seen as sacred time where you completely disconnect from work.  Money means less at this stage of your “career.”  This is more about survival.  You have been complaining of your pay for so long your expectations are appropriately low.

The publication of the promotions list has you seeing people there that you have never heard of.  Your personal network can be counted on one hand.  Many show signs of PTSD, having barely survived countless layoffs and reorganizations.  They are, for the most part, institutionalized – apparently trapped in their roles.

Your mentors have been all laid off, fired, or escaped.  Your circle of friends at work has shriveled to a handful. You actively work to avoid business travel because you have come to hate airports, hotels and people.  Work is a prison where parole consists of reductions in force. Each time the axe is swung you secretly hope you are on the list.  You know the layoff packages in your organization as well as your pension plan.

When there’s a workplace shooting on TV and people say, “I don’t know how that could happen,” you find you possess the answers.

If you look at the chart above, mapping your disengagement increase, your engagement at work decrease, and your salary, you can see that the optimum period comes during the disillusionment period in the small triangle you see on the chart.  I name this little spot the Triangle of Apathy…where you still care about work, but realize the futility of that caring.

Things You Need to Get Answers on Before You Leave The Interview

Bobs

I hate fluff articles with similar titles that give you worthless tips for interviews like, “Tell me why you like working here”?”  Bah! No one cares because the answer to that question ls likely to be pure BS anyway.

At the risk of being blunt, there’s some things you need to get out of an interview, but usually don’t ask because they can seem edgy.  Still, getting this information is important.  How you get it in your line of questioning, that I leave to you.  Also you need to focus on the 2-3 questions that are most important to you personally.

What’s next in this process, and when?  Usually an interviewer will inform you of this as their way of saying, “we’re done with this interview.” If they don’t, you need to know what the next steps are and what the timing is for those steps. Timing can be important, because it tells you how important this role is.  If they want to fill it fast, it is more likely mission critical.

Who’s the decision maker? Organizations often have rounds of interviews, one with a recruiter, one with the hiring manager, sometimes a technical interview, sometimes team interviews, and so on.  Their belief is this ensures they get the best candidate; when in reality it spreads out the blame for hiring bad candidates to a larger group of people.  As such, it can get confusing as to who is the individual that actually is making the judgement call as to your joining the company.  If you don’t know this, ask!

Why didn’t this position get filled from within?  This tells you how important promotion from within is, if they provide training, etc. I asked this recently and got, “Oh, we have several in-house candidates that we like, but we always like looking in the external market.”  In other words, they may just be wasting your time because of a stupid policy. Probing at this can tell you a great deal about how the organization views their people.

What would be my career progression if I were offered this job?  In other words, how long until I can promoted and to what role or position?  Will I have freedom to change career directions, or is this seen as a niche role with little room for growth?   What I always want to know with this question is, “How much flexibility will I have with my career path?” What you want to find out is simple – is this a company that has an up-or-out approach to careers, or one that sees you as a long term asset they want to nurture and grow?

What does your company do to retain talent? Does this company even care enough to try and keep its best performers? The companies that really do care have program in place.  This is also a good question to determine if the organization you are interviewing with is one that cherishes experience, or promotes more of an “up-and-out,” mentality towards its people.

Does your company have any outsourcing initiatives or efforts to move jobs overseas?  I know of someone who hired into a job, only to find out that the seat was vacated because his predecessor had already been told the role was being moved to India.  You need to know if you are entering an environment that is harvesting jobs for outside vendors or to send overseas.  While this is not a deal-breaker on its own (the role you are interviewing for may not be impacted) it can tell you a great deal about the morale and focus of the staff.

What is your employee review process like?  The response to this question tells you something about how the tentative organization evaluates its people’s performance.   How you will be evaluated often drives the type of work you do.  Best to learn that before you are offered the position.

How many hours are there in a typical work week in this position?  Are you going to have time to have a life?  Is this place a sweat shop?  Chances are they will tell you, “it varies,” but you should probe a little further.  “So what is the high end and the low end?”

What is your turnover rate in this role?  You can give a recruiter an aneurism with this question, so I saved it for last.  This is how many people leave this job.  It tells you about the culture and the kind of longevity you can expect in this position.  If people are staying for a long time (a low turnover rate) then it is probably a pretty good place to work.

Bear in mind, the recruiter or the hiring manager may lie through their teeth in response to these kinds of questions. If nothing else, it can give you something to bitch and whine about when you discover the truth, “When I interviewed they told me I could have a career here…those bastards…”

I have been told that some recruiters might react negatively to one or more of these questions.  I try and not live my life around what upsets recruiters.  Well, do you really want to work at a place that won’t share this information with you up-front?  If nothing else, shame on you for not getting this information in your interview.

Office Humor – Things to never put on your resume’, CV, or cover letter

resume

Thinking these things is okay.  Putting them in writing…not so much.  Enjoy!

  • Meet with me and prepare to be dazzled.
  • If you have read my resume’ to this point, clearly you recognize the talent I can bring to you and your team.
  • I am loyal to a fault.  Please feel free to contact me at my current work email or phone number.
  • I am available for interviews after 10:30am.
  • While my availability could be interpreted as having been fired or laid off; I want to assure you, my departure was completely voluntary and even if it wasn’t, I was not the only one affected.
  • When I leave my current position I am sure productivity and morale will drop dramatically, but I am willing to take that risk to join your organization.
  • On Resume’:  Career Goals – Work for a company not as screwed up as the one I currently work for.
  • I am willing to relocate, but only if you pay for it.
  • My current company promised rapid advancement, but never delivered, despite my protests on the subject.
  • I am in high demand so you may want to extend an offer based on my resume’ alone.
  • I feel bad about looking for a new role since the place will fall apart without my leadership.
  • My attorney and I look forward to your offer letter.
  • You may reach out to my current manager as a reference.  She is the one that encouraged me to pursue other opportunities.
  • My reason for desiring a new position is that my current employer refuses to recognize the brilliance I bring to the table.
  • I am content in my current role, but they refuse to promote me, despite my acts of personal heroism in the office.
  • I don’t come cheap.
  • I take teamwork seriously, even after hours.  I have played a pivotal role (cleric) in a Dungeons and Dragons party for the last six years of our current campaign.  If that isn’t teamwork, I don’t know what is.
  • On Resume’:  Accomplishments:  Earned over 450,000 Marriott points in the last year alone.
  • My reason for leaving my current role is that my employer is asking me to work unreasonable hours, such as starting at 8am.
  • This is your lucky day because today you have discovered me!
  • While I may lack all of the skills and experience you are looking for, I make it up with a can-do attitude!
  • The following are sample comments from my last performance review…
  • I am not bragging, but I could probably do your job more effectively than you do.
  • I am pursuing other career options at the time because my current company undervalues my contributions and have restricted our expense policy.
  • You are so fortunate to be reading this resume’.  I am sure you will be promoted based on the offer you are about to tender me!
  • I am pursuing a new company because I was not promoted when others, who were clearly inferior, were.  (Note:  If this was a good excuse I would be changing jobs annually.)
  • I am the kind of person that is always growing.  Last year I took over 195 hours of learning alone!
  • According to Google, your company would be a perfect fit for my personality and work style.
  • The hours I work are not nearly as important as what I bring to the table…something my current employer simply doesn’t understand.
  • After reading my attached resume’, you will realize that I have made your decision to fill this role easy and quick.  When should I start?
  • I am willing to travel as part of this position, but I won’t go to the following countries…
  • Once your meet me face-to-face, I’m sure you will wonder, “How did we get along before she got here?”
  • On Resume’:  Career Goals:  Work for an organization that compensates me for the brilliance I bring to the team, rather than silly things like profitability, billable hours, or delivering tangible work product.
  • I feel sad in looking for another job because my current employer is bound to go out of business without me.
  • I look forward to your call.  I have several questions about your company’s mission statement.
  • If this position doesn’t pay at least (insert dollar amount) then you do not need to read further.
  • I assume your company is pet-friendly.
  • On Resume’:  Career Goals – A salary consummate with the lifestyle I so richly deserve.
  • My involvement on a recent engagement persuaded the client to add three more staff to our team, just to assist on my deliverable!  Imagine what I could do for your firm.
  • Because of the demand for me, I will need a written commitment in advance regarding promotion
  • Before we proceed with your inevitable offer, I need to know the details on your medical benefits.
  • I see my applying for this position as a chance for you to live up to your company’s value statement.
  • My division lost less money last year than the other divisions because of my leadership.
  • Please use this phone number, not the one on the resume’.  That line has been disconnected.
  • On Resume’:  Hobbies include political protests that are against key social issues, macramé, visiting serial killer murder locations.
  • I am moving on in my career because my mother feels my current employer undervalues my contributions.
  • The gaps in my resume’ are no reflection on my work performance, a lot of people were laid off during those periods.
  • My staff often referred to me as “The Head Honcho” which tells you how influential I am.
  • I am pursuing a position with your organization because my mentor suggested that I am a solid fit for your company.
  • One of my strengths is I won’t compromise my values, unless you pay me enough.
  • On a Resume’:  Words used to describe me – “Dynamic, Innovative, Challenges Authority, and Undervalued by Leadership.”
  • Your days of searching for a perfect candidate are over!
  • Just to clarify, any images you find of my on the internet were NOT put there with my expressed permission.  I am seeking legal action against those who posted those photos and please do not hold those images against me during the hiring process.
  • My mother asked me to ask you the following question…
  • On a Resume’:  My low GPA reflects instructors that were sub-par and unreasonably early class start times.
  • If you don’t hire me, I encourage you to contribute to my favorite charity _______________.
  • You don’t want to look back five years from now and say to yourself, “I had a chance to hire that guy and didn’t.”
  • I don’t want to say I walk on water, but I can cross a lake without getting wet.
  • I am excited to see what your signing bonuses are and how they compare to the rest of the industry.
  • Because of legal reasons I cannot travel out of state or be available on weekends…but other than that, I’m your new go-to-guy.
  • While my title seems rather ordinary, I have been called, “the glue that holds this place together.”  So consider that in your decision making.
  • If you were to Google me you would see the phrase, “Anti-Authoritative Risk Taker,” which just about sums up what I can bring to your company.
  • In search of perfection?  I’d say you’d found it with this attached resume’.
  • I suggest you keep this introduction letter, because my autograph is bound to be worth a lot in years to come.
  • I am unavailable on weekends for work due to court-required community service.
  • I can save your company a lot of money in terms of recruitment – simply hire me right now based on the attached resume’!
  • Before we get too far, what is your company’s expense and travel spending limits?
  • Frankly I should be much further in my career, but my manager leaves a great deal to be desired.
  • It should be noted that several of my references are leaders in our industry.
  • My anger management instructor said I am the most improved in her class, which should count for something.
  • I am seeking a new career trajectory because I was falsely accused of telling the truth about the incompetence of my manager to her supervisor.
  • My ratings have been a three for the last few years, but in fairness, a three at our company is a five at other companies (per what we have been told by our leadership.)  So I’m basically a five…
  • I feel it is time for a move, and your company was the least objectionable option.
  • Resume’ Personal Information:  Weight, 197lbs, Height, 6 ft.  Able to bench press 230lbs, highest ranking team member of the Red Cobras Squad on Call of Duty 4.
  • I am currently pursuing a degree, so I will need to know your tuition reimbursement plan in advance of accepting an offer with your company.
  • Think of it this way, you are hiring someone who is likely going to be your boss someday.
  • I hope you can be flexible with interviewing schedules, my father wants to take part in those discussions and he is quite busy.

Like these?  Check out my book:  Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords

What Everyone is Thinking (but not saying) About Your PowerPoint Presentation…

PowerPoint
And we all know how things turned out for Ned Stark…

I make no small qualms that I loathe PowerPoint almost as much as I hate attending mindless meetings.  PowerPoint has reprogrammed generations of people in business to think in poorly written, vague bullet points.  While some might argue that it makes us be concise, it reality it is a crutch for people that perform crappy presentations.  Some teams actually use PowerPoint decks as reading material…I guess Word was too complex for them.  Morons.  PowerPoint is to documentation what an abacus is to a computer.

I had a manager once, (She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) who was so obsessed over PowerPoint, she was concerned about people reading them.  “What if this gets forwarded to the wrong person and they read it?”  So we had to create slide decks for this harpy-from-hell that could be understood if you knew nothing about the subject of the deck.  Seriously.  It wasn’t as if we had plans for making an atomic bomb in your basement in the decks we produced.  I have long suspected that she stupidly fretted over someone reading her material without her being in the room to bask in their praise over what she had produced.

I spend a lot of my corporate life in mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations under the guise of being productive meetings.  The majority of PowerPoint decks are mediocre at best, and at worst, they blow chucks.  I have actually started to shift to doing meetings without PowerPoint.  What I have found is that people are so conditioned to seeing the tool in a meeting that it confuses them when you don’t put up slides.  They get nervous and visibly uncomfortable – which I love.  “Aren’t you going to put your slides up?”  “Fu*k no.”  People have actually frowned at me when I tell them that I don’t want to use slides to make my point.  Presentation is an art form that has been corrupted by the evil programming elves at Microsoft.  This PowerPoint/mind-control is so sinister it could be a plot in a James Bond film.

Having vested much of my day-job in meetings under the dull glow of PowerPoint, it is time for me to impart some knowledge.  Let me share with you what people are likely to be thinking, but not saying, during your next sucky PowerPoint presentation:

  • Really?  Forty-six slides to make your point?   That many slides makes me wonder what you are really up to.   What are you hiding?  I’ll bet I can find it.  Game on!
  • Clearly what you define as important has no bearing in reality, as evidenced by your presentation.
  • You can stop reading me your slides.  If you were going to read them to me you should have just sent them to me in an email.  This may shock you but I learned to read years ago.
  • You said, “I’ll keep this short…”  and that was an hour ago. We all want to kill you and some are taking notes on how to do it.
  • We should make prisoners at GITMO sit through your presentation.
  • Pointing out that your slide is hard to read tells me you don’t care.
  • Based on your slides, you clearly worship Satan given that the devil is in the details — which is where you are taking us.
  • Your bullet points read like a drunken teenager’s text messages.  You seem to be a vowel or two short here.
  • A six-point font?  What is this, an eye exam?  Can’t you see we are all squinting?
  • If you are going to use clip art, at least don’t use 1992 quality clip art.
  • No, your graphic does NOT make your point clearer.  In fact, it achieves quite the opposite.
  • Making something bold and red insults me a little.  I know what is important.
  • When I read that slide I keep asking myself, “What is he/she trying to say?”  Even re-reading it leaves me confused.  A bit of my soul is dying inside me as a result.  I hate you.
  • I am not paying attention to what you are saying because your font choice is distracting me.
  • All of your arguments are invalid because of your spelling and grammatical mistakes on one slide.
  • Your use of graphics is making me cry on the inside.
  • Incorporating meaningless buzzwords and phrases does not help your presentation.  You’re not fooling anyone.
  • This all sounds peachy-keen – what does it cost?
  • Don’t blame the projector for your failure to organize your thoughts.
  • If I had wanted to read a book, I would have brought my Kindle.
  • It is hard to believe that we paid you to produce such a hideous slide deck.
  • This presentation is so dull, I am imagining innovative and creative excuses to leave the room.
  • I have done the math.  It is impossible to cover the number of slides you have left in the time we have allotted.
  • My four year old could have produced a better graph, and she’s limited to crayons.
  • Presentations like this is why I am on anti-depressants.
  • I wonder how much it cost us in your time and effort to put together this travesty of a slide deck?
  • Rarely has so much effort gone into presenting such a lie.  You should be congratulated – or shot.
  • I am waiting for the right moment to destroy your entire premise so that the audience will see me as the genius I believe myself to be.
  • It’s probably a bad time to let you know your fly is open.
  • If your graphic can’t fit on a slide, it’s not worth us looking at.
  • I love your material but your abuse of transitions between slides qualifies as a war crime.
  • We’re about due for someone to raise a meaningless point or analogy in an attempt to ruin the hard work you put in on this presentation.
  • If they had told me in business school that I would be doing this for a living (watching your PowerPoint) I would have pursued a liberal arts degree instead.
  • We are all silently curious…are you going to make a point sometime in the next hour or so?  Seriously, any point will do.  Just pick one…please!
  • Oh, I see you Bob – checking your watch.  We both want this to end.  Who in the hell still owns a watch? More importantly, what time is it?
  • If I could take a nap right now, I would. The fact that I am not asleep is worthy of a spot-bonus.
  • There are at least three people watching this presentation that will tear it apart just to be assholes.
  • Your illegal and unethical use of several copywrittten images only makes us hate you a little bit more.
  • Oh joy, you’re using an acronym that no one in the room knows.  You should know, it doesn’t make you any smarter.
  • Because you didn’t follow the company standard template for PowerPoint, I am ignoring everything you are presenting on.
  • It is only a matter of moments before someone questions the validity of your data.
  • My only concern with your presentation is that I wonder if I can muffle my fart – and if I do, can I muffle its smell?
  • Out of your 26 slides, there is only one that matters.  Why didn’t we just start there?
  • Do you realize that you have the wrong audience in the room (on the call) for the material you are presenting?  Do you care?
  • This presentation is all that is between me and a much-needed trip to the bathroom.  Please hurry…
  • As I watch you flip through these slides I cannot help but think that we need to improve our recruitment and hiring standards.
  • I should have had a friend send me a text so I had an excuse to leave this meeting.  Lesson learned…
  • This is an hour of my life I will never get back and will completely forget by the end of the day.
  • I can, and will, derail your entire presentation with a single question – just to prove I can.
  • My phone is vibrating in my pocket and that is much more exciting than this slide show.
  • It would be nice if you told us at some point what the purpose of this meeting is.
  • Please God, don’t let someone say that we need to have another meeting on this subject.
  • Nothing makes me more nauseous than someone saying, “I’ve run out of time, let me go through the last eight slides in two minutes.”
  • You didn’t build in time for questions?  You really thought your material would answer every stupid thing we could come up with?  Really?
  • Why are the boring presentations always scheduled for late in the day on a Friday?  Why are you always the one presenting them?
  • The colors you have chosen are making my eyes bleed on the inside.
  • It’s bad enough your slides are dull, but your droning makes me want to start cutting myself again.
  • The person you rehearsed this with lied to you…it sucks.
  • I am smiling at you only because it makes you think I care.
  • An appendix to your horrible presentation?  And it’s longer than the presentation?  This just became a homework assignment you douchebag.
  • If you’re going to deflect questions to the end – you’d better leave time to answer them.
  • Stop saying things like, “As you clearly can see…” or “This slide points out…”  Let me be the judge of what your slides say or don’t say.  Otherwise, why have me here in the first place?
  • Having our graphics team make a pretty graphic of your material is akin to polishing a turd.