Views for a Change
Diary of a Shutdown
It doesn't seem weird anymore to be coaching my boss on how to get a new job.
The cafeteria is barely worth it these days. Today's offering featured one line, with burgers and fish squares and some leftover pie.
We are struck by yet another computer virus. This one takes out our entire e-mail system.
Well, they did it. There is now a restriction on the size of e-mails that I can send out. Now have tear apart e-mali huge report into tiny pieces and send them, where the receiver meticulously pieces them back together again.
Thanks for improving my efficiency again!
I couldn't face the empty cafeteria this morning so I got coffee at the Stop-n-Go. It was nice to have good coffee and lots of choices. I picked a jelly doughnut instead of my usual bagel and fruit and I liked it.
I am cheered up. Is this is a sign that there are new things that I will find after all this that I'll actually like? No, it's just a jelly doughnut. But maybe that's enough.
The SMC123 program is starting to have supplier problems because they know we're closing, so they're not worrying about the schedule. The sad part is that one of the key suppliers is a sister plant and we're already dead as far as they're concerned. Maybe they're right, we've lost our key engineers and our lead buyers are gone, too. But we still have a contract to deliver.
I get e-mail lifting the size restrictions on e-mail. They should have sent an apology.
A notice comes out asking about a 'missing' scanner from the engineering department. We've really cracked down on people trying to take staplers, but I guess it's open season on the good stuff!
An accepted part of everyone's job is now finding a job. The constant details are tiresome for at times, but I really enjoy the discussions about future hopes and dreams and wishes.
Tony Jordan gets so upset at the production meeting that his face turns red and he jumps up and leaves the room. I wonder for a moment if he is having a heart attack and I'm just about to go after him when he returns.
I have decided that rage is not a phase to get through or a step to be taken, but an attribute to be cultivated. I went to every conference room and threw away all of the vision statements that we used to start each meeting by reciting, in unison, like a prayer before each worship service for the almighty.
He notices this response and moves right to his charts showing that everything is 'Right on track and on schedule.' Then he follows with the downsizing chart, a series of bars like steps down into a grave and says that he is pleased that "We are ahead of schedule on this one, because it means that you people are finding good jobs and that's great."
But I know that it is not great. Many people are taking lousy jobs in desperation, retiring, and just plain quitting.
Then, in what I think was an effort to reassure the group about the stability and health of our division, he shows a chart that he summarizes with; "So, as you can see, we're in great shape because we're looking at accomplishing about a 30 percent increase in sales with an overall 32 percent reduction in headcount and 45 percent reduction in facilities."
Once again I hate listening to how well the company is going to do without us.
The entire room sucks in a breath and David Krikorian from the back o f the room leans back in his chair and booms out confidently; "With all due respect, nobody here gives a flip about the company and how well you're doing." Suddenly the room is whispering then buzzing.
Edwin's temper says back; "That's fine with me because I don't really care what you think, either. I don't have to come down here and waste my time with you but I do think that there are people who do want to hear about the company. Show of hands - who wants to hear more about this?"
No one moves a muscle.
He continues; "Okay, fine. Anyone who doesn't want be here can just leave and get out right now," but he self-corrects in midstream and ends up with; "Well, what do you want to talk about?"
David again; "We want to some answers about the transition and what's going to happen with us."
Impatiently again; "I thought there was a communication plan in place. I thought you had that information." Looking around pointedly; "Was that wrong? Nick? What's going on here?"
Nick (plant manager) steps into the fray, all smooth and placating; "Yes, we are communicating, yes, we do have a plan. I had two 'Chat With Nick' sessions this week and out of 75 invitations, less than half of them showed up. Hard to communicate under those conditions. You want to talk about the transition? Let's talk about it. What are your questions?" He is all warmth and concern, playing the good sport in front of his boss, showing Edwin how reasonable he is with all of us.
Jennifer says; "The people that got laid off first got the best deal because they got the full severance package and they didn't yet yanked around on their dates. We're frustrated because we're trying to pick up all this work that we're not trained to do and we're doing it in addition to our other jobs, too."
Edwin has had enough at this point; "I keep trying to tell you that business conditions forced us to make this decision. It had nothing to do with your competence. But we could have come in here in and closed the place in a month. We could just go ahead and do that now, for that matter. That's one way to end all this frustration, just come in and shut you down next month."
On that note the meeting ends.
I tell a colleague about how an entire meeting changed with one comment, right before my eyes. She reminds me, "We have more power than we know."
I still don't know if I'm getting that promotion or not. I joke about being the understudy, showing up at all of the meetings, learning all the lines, getting ready to step in at a moments' notice, but having no voice because the production diva is still in place.
I talk with Nick about bringing in an expert to help us stop self-destructing. Touchy conversation because he doesn't really think anything is wrong. I keep the request minimal and he agrees, as long as I coordinate with the rest of his staff, specifically the functional departments.