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On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 08:38 AM   #1
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On Being Indispensable

If you are looking for one more reason to leave work behind, consider this: I was the oldest attorney in the government office, a Division Chief, someone who was called to most of the Big Meetings, and fairly well liked. I lef three months ago amidst repeated protests such as "How are we going to get along without you?" So far I have been called by my former office exactly once. A fellow Division Chief needed to know what wine I recommended with a pork roast. (Sea Smoke Pinot Noir or Truchard Syrah, by the way). So much for being indispensable. I'm not complaining because I have no desire to call anyone there either so things are working out for both of us, but for those of you who think you can't leave because the office can't live without you...guess again, unless, of course you have some hobby that gives you a value added, such as wine collection, for instance.

setab
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 08:59 AM   #2
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Smart guy I used to work with used to say

"Everyones very important. But just a little.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 09:21 AM   #3
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Setab,

Government organizations are expressly designed to function despite turnover of "key" employees. Moreso than anywhere else, the loss of an individual does not really effect the functioning of the agency. This is a good thing. Would you want critical gov't services to be degraded or interrupted everytime someone retired? Having lived and worked in Washington for 35 years, I have seen how, despite political upheavals, mass departures of employees, budget crises, etc, etc, gov't agencies just keep rolling along. They clearly are the most stable element of our government structures. Don't feel bad that they don't miss you. I don't miss them a bit.

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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 09:39 AM   #4
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Its also a good reason NOT to storm out in a firestorm of insults when its time to leave your job, hoping to "punish" the organization for neglecting your contribution.

I have yet to see anyone leave a company and be any more than a blip of inconvenience...no matter how important they were (or think they were)...before your seat is even cold people will be picking thru your stuff for their own office. Two weeks later somebody else will be in your seat and people will be saying "What was the name of that guy.....?".
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 09:48 AM   #5
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Re: On Being Indispensable

An old boss used the metaphor of an organization as a bowl of water.

If someone leaves there would be a small ripple in the water as they exit the bowl. If someone really important leaves there would be a somewhat bigger ripple. But if someone leaves and the organization has planned for it then there would be no ripple and the organization would continue to run smoothly.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 12:03 PM   #6
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by setab
So far I have been called by my former office exactly once.
It took a year for the office to call me. I don't think they'll do it again.

Before I retired I spent weeks pruning the files to their essential core and distilling my years of accumulated wisdom & experience into a turnover memo of deathless prose. I wanted my successors to be able to handle just about any decision or crisis by consulting my sage advice without having to hunt through reams of useless junk. Since I worked with classified material, the first part of the memo was UNCLAS and the rest of it was stored in the office safe.

When that phone call came a year later, tensions were running high. They had lost the safe combination so they wanted me to come down right nowand open the safe for them. (Military law absolutely forbids transmitting the combination to a classified storage container over an unsecure voice circuit.) No pressure, but the big biennial inspection was next week and after the first 103 weeks had zipped by they'd just discovered the need to get into the safe to start the inspection preps. Despite numerous, er, "safe"guards to avoid just this type of situation, none of them had been properly applied. Of course I no longer had a security clearance so I'd have to be escorted into the building. As soon as I opened the safe for them I'd have to sign a debriefing that I hadn't actually had access to the material that I'd just accessed for them. (You veterans will appreciate Joseph Heller's application of this logic.) Their phone call to me was their final hope for a reprieve before having to confess their incompetence to the XO and sending for a locksmith.

I was laughing too hard to haul my butt out of the recliner & hang up the phone. ("Hey, honey, guess who's calling!!") While I was wiping away the tears ("Hello? Sir? Are you still there?!?") I eventually realized that they'd just fill up my voicemail or even drive to the house to beg & grovel. So I recited some numbers over that unsecured circuit and sonofagun if the safe didn't open right up. Gosh, I hope the combination to that safe in office 107-A of Building 39 on Ford Island isn't still 12-07-41.

I mentioned that any further phone calls would compel me to share this story with the XO & CO. Problem solved!
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 12:38 PM   #7
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Re: On Being Indispensable

On the water theme:

Everyone who thinks they are indispensable, should just put their finger in a glass of water. Then look at the hole they leave behind when they take their finger out.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 03:41 PM   #8
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy
Government organizations are expressly designed to function despite turnover of "key" employees.*
the de-evolution of corporations has accomplished the same. my biz card used to have an actual title. after "re-engineering" we all became a blah blah specialist, or a blah blah blah specialist. you no longer did the entire project, now you did only your small part and then handed the project off to some other monkey who handed it off to yet another of the troop.

i used to know everything about what i was doing and my internal & external customers loved me. after they "fixed" the system i knew nothing about a lot of nothing and no one knew me. i had gone from valued human, to replaceable monkey and so i responded with about as much respect. i quit.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 05:34 PM   #9
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Not a single call from an office that I left on 4/28 and was told by so many that they didn't know how they'd make out without me. BUT having had numerous major job transfers over the course of my career and not having had any phone calls after those transfers either, it has neither suprised me nor disappointed me one bit that no one has called.

I am hoping there will not be a single call either way ever... unless of course the pension check does not come on time!
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 06:43 PM   #10
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy
Setab,

Government organizations are expressly designed to function despite turnover of "key" employees. Moreso than anywhere else, the loss of an individual does not really effect the functioning of the agency. This is a good thing. Would you want critical gov't services to be degraded or interrupted everytime someone retired? Having lived and worked in Washington for 35 years, I have seen how, despite political upheavals, mass departures of employees, budget crises, etc, etc, gov't agencies just keep rolling along. They clearly are the most stable element of our government structures. Don't feel bad that they don't miss you. I don't miss them a bit.

Grumpy
In other words, working for the government is like being part of a Borg collective. You can get shot, get a limb hacked off, but the collective goes on its merry way.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 06:45 PM   #11
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
In other words, working for the government is like being part of a Borg collective. You can get shot, get a limb hacked off, but the collective goes on its merry way.
BOV,

Now that you mention it, that was exactly what it was like :

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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 07:10 PM   #12
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Re: On Being Indispensable

A decade or so ago, I spent 7 weeks out on sick leave. The company didn't go bankrupt or disappear, and apparently my returning screwed up someone else's plans to take over my job. That took care of any notions that they couldn't get along without me...
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 09:04 PM   #13
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Re: On Being Indispensable

A co-worker has already asked our manager, if she can move to my desk when I leave on 6/2/06!

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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-10-2006, 09:36 PM   #14
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Re: On Being Indispensable

So, what have we learned? If you are staying OTJ because you think you will be missed, you are kidding yourself. You either have to come up with another excuse for not pulling the rip cord or get on with it. I miss absolutely nothing about my old job. Obviously the feeling is mutual and the woman who got promoted behind me based on my recommendation is probably going to call me any day now to thank me.

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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-11-2006, 07:39 AM   #15
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
A co-worker has already asked our manager, if she can move to my desk when I leave on 6/2/06!
Yep - I left on a Thursday, and on Monday someone else had my office. I'm sure that office life without me on the job is just fine. It's 2 weeks later, and I do miss my coworkers but not the work!!

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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-11-2006, 07:43 AM   #16
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by setab
So, what have we learned?* If you are staying OTJ because you think you will be missed, you are kidding yourself.*
I suspect a lot of people stay on the job exactly because deep down they know they *won't* be missed.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-11-2006, 08:39 AM   #17
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Re: On Being Indispensable

I actually got to enjoy my 15 minutes of fame, showing how indispensable I was when I quit my part time job delivering pizzas. I was really getting fed up with the place. Not the immediate manager so much, but the district manager and those above him, who didn't have a clue. Well, one Saturday night we were already understaffed, and I was already in a bad mood, getting madder by the minute. I finally decided to myself that I would quit after the next customer that pissed me off. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long. I went to the far extreme of our delivery area to deliver a pizza. Young kid comes to the door, giving me a $20 and wanting the exact change back. This is actually a common ploy by people too cheap to tip...send the kid to the door to do your dirty work for you. Sure, sometimes it's an honest mistake, but more often it's done on purpose.

Anyway, I went back to the store; this was about 9:00 at night, and told them I was quitting, right then and right there. They begged and begged, and the manager on duty tried to get ahold of the store manager, but to no avail. They had to close down the store, right then and there. That gave me a cruelly satisfying feeling.

The store manager called the next day and filled up my answering machine, and I decided to call him a few days later. That store never was the same after I left. I'd like to get all arrogant and say it was because they lost me, but it's much deeper than that. Management had been going downhill for awhile. They had too high of a turnover in store managers, with the good ones often getting taken advantage of, over-worked, and burnt-out, while the bad ones would just help sabotage the store. And that trickled down to the employees. The good ones would get fed up and quit because it was just easier to do that than implement changes. That left the more lazy, shiftless ones. Ultimately performance went down as the good drivers left. The drivers also helped make the pizzas, box them up, and occasionally take orders, and the closing driver would help clean up the store at night, so we did more than just drive. And the inside help was mainly just high-school kids. Anyway, the pizzas started taking longer to come out, get delivered, there were more messed up orders, etc, and it ultimately took its toll. In the end, that store ended up doing so bad that Corporate dumped it, and it's now a franchise. And I hear it's still a shell of its former glory.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-11-2006, 11:43 AM   #18
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by BunsOfVeal
You can get shot, get a limb hacked off
Sounds like one hell of a bad review.
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-11-2006, 11:55 AM   #19
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Quote:
Originally Posted by cj
Yep - I left on a Thursday, and on Monday someone else had my office.
It's like surrending your Death Row cell to the next-best-behaved prisoner...
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Re: On Being Indispensable
Old 05-11-2006, 12:04 PM   #20
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Re: On Being Indispensable

Hey thats good to hear. About 20 years ago I heard one of the other sales people in my office was going to get fired and stuck my head in the managers office to ask if I could have her parking pass...underground heated garage parking in Boston!

I felt bad about it for a while. Sounds like I was no more mercenary than a lot of other people.
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