Large Ideas Expressed In Small
Diary of a Shutdown
So, I went to the dentist on company time.
Dental work just seems more deserving than beauty work.
I announce to the department that I have scheduled “down time” in my office everyday through July from 3-4 p.m. when anyone can come by anytime to talk, vent or visit. We’ll see if this is helpful for a month and then decide to continue or try something different next month.
I just think, I actually know that
this is the time to do things radically different from
the routine. I know that if we keep doing the same
things, we’ll dig ourselves into a hole.
Frank says, “Missing bonus again is gonna hurt. This is really going to break their spirit, Elizabeth.”
I think their hearts are already broken, but missing this bonus is an allowable way to talk about the rage and hurt.
Of course, HR is behind us all the way. Today my boss, Dan, worried, “Everybody get ready to review all of your absenteeism reports and deal with the offenders accordingly. Paul found out that there are over 70 people at this site that have over 40 hours absent. As far as he’s concerned, that’s just stealing from the company.”
What makes this even more surreal is that the rest of the company is allowed 80 hours absent, but that policy change did not extend to us because we’re shutting down.
I get called to a meeting about SC 23 property. I have been given a 15-page (font size 2) legal paper list of equipment that I am supposed to locate, and decide if it goes to the transfer site or stays where it is. Maggie is trying to be helpful, but there is no location recorded for any of the equipment and no record of whom used it last. I think of a real quick way to do this task—mark off everything as going to the transfer site, and let them find it. I’m mulling this over when she tells me that this report was due last week. I respond, “Sorry, I was busy building 35 units.” She knows this is my second record-breaking month. So there.
I’m going to counsel them. Now that my teeth are fixed and my hair is done.
We end the day with another sour meeting, griping, complaining and backbiting. This is two days in a row and I hate the thought that we could all end this way, disintegrated into petty battles, sour grapes, old grudges and feuds.
I want us to “go bravely.” I want us to hold hands high in a sign of defiance and drive off the cliff full speed in an old convertible with the radio blaring.
The finance department has gone over
the edge. Either that, or they should take the next round
of drug tests. Today they hosted their own pizza party,
with company funds.
So, I’ve decided to learn as much about the money flow as possible. I am really enjoying the terminology. Today I learned about “negative earnings” and “economic profit.” I almost giggled and said, “That would be losses, right?” but I didn’t. I wondered—what other kind of profit is there, but not out loud. When learning a new language, on the field of battle, never make fun of it.
For the first time, coming into the home office report on our site statistics, I don’t feel guilty or ashamed for being from a site that is being shutdown. Why should I? I didn’t do anything wrong.
The meeting starts with a warning from Webster Long who is the statistics team leader, “Our Annual Operating Plan was declared DOA in headquarters. We’re not anywhere close to the savings, efficiencies, productivity improvements that we promised we would get with the mergers and acquisition and consolidations.”
I notice that no one here ever says “shutdown.”
He threatens, “Now we’re going to have to get real aggressive in our financial goals, or else.”
This seems like we amputated a leg and now we’re complaining about the bleeding, so we’re going to amputate the other leg.
Andrew from Newark says, “We shouldn’t be expected to forecast improvements next year because our workforce is getting older and they’re stuck in their ways and getting more and more stubborn. Old dogs, new tricks, you know.”
I find this comment so ridiculous that I comment, “Let’s talk to Andrew in a couple of years and see if he still holds to that theory.” General laughter, Andrew flushes.
Who appointed you? How can you still be in business?
By the time we review the safety report, I have had too much. The general consensus comes from Webster Long, “Why should we even report this? We can’t control any of this. I know this is required by OSHA but what does it really mean... Why are you looking at me like that, Elizabeth?”
“Because I can’t imagine telling the steering committee or anyone else that we are going to track quality, delivery and financial results, but when it comes to safety, which is a basic human right, we aren’t even going to report it.”
The smug management attitudes that get aired out at that point are appalling to me.
“What do I care if some guy hurts himself playing touch football and blames it on the company?”
“Hey, guys, check this out, this month we announced layoffs and we had the most injuries ever.”
Have they never been laid off? Have they never cared about someone who has been? And why are they still in business?
I am lost behind enemy lines. Do I plan my escape, do some damage, or organize a revolt?