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Old 05-22-2011, 12:20 AM   #61
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I would suggest the idea. The company is has a problem and you have the solution. You may become noticed and appreciated. It sounds like you will feel good about fixing the problem.

As far as the new manager goes, I think only time will have the answer. In the short term you have to do what is good for the company. Keep an eye out on the long term and do what is good for you.
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:44 AM   #62
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How about this: "I think I have a solution to your problem but if you decide to implement it and want my help I can't do that and fulfill my other responsibilities. Do you want to hear my suggestion?"

Speak in general terms and see what happens. If you are brushed off they had their chance and you didn't hold out the information, if they are interested make sure they credit you for your knowledge. You may have the new manager eating out of your hand.

There is nothing wrong with exploring other opportunities. Know the terms of your retirement and other fringe benefits so that if something comes your way you know how the change would pencil out.
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Old 05-22-2011, 01:00 AM   #63
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OK, final note. Tell the company your solution. THEN go to work for old boss. Is everybody happy now?
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:16 AM   #64
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One question keeps coming to mind as I have read through this discussion: After your "fix" on Monday, how will it get explained that the system suddenly started working faster? Especially since this has gotten such attention that people are assigned to research the problem. It seems likely it will get to back to the new manager. You might want to think through a response, or hold off doing the fix temporarily. Instead, what if you didn't do the fix immediately Monday morning, but instead went into the manager's office Monday morning, told him you worked over the weekend on your own time to come up with a temporary fix to their situation. If he wants, you are willing to apply the fix to the system immediately, which would give them time to find a more permanent solution? That puts the decision in his hands, he looks like a hero, you get credit for your efforts (he'll think more favorably of you hopefully), and it doesn't make you look like you went behind his back.

As for how to manage through the next few years, I think a good approach would be to excel at your core responsibilities to the best of your ability, try to keep a positive "can do" attitude at work (that's hard sometimes but you need to), and let management know that you are willing to do whatever they need. And communicate with your manager what you feel your strengths are, so he can utilize them to the company's benefit. Managers like people who are team players. Remind yourself daily of what is still positive at work. Change and reorgs always concern people. Remember that companies always want to keep their good employees. Your focus is to make sure they see you in that light. Then, FIRE away, because you will have achieved your goal!

Good luck!
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:14 AM   #65
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It is easy to see who on this board is/were Management and who is/were Labor.

It also confirms my general assessment of Management in the US as mostly in need of a glass belly button. Loyalty is only one-way. Communication is only one-way.

Once again, I am so glad that I am a contractor.
Loyalty and communication are only from the worker to the manager? You can't be serious, especially in this case.

When you read about an employee complaining about his/her boss, how do you determine who's the problem? Do you assume the worker's version is always completely accurate? Do you believe it's important to hear both sides of the story (in my experience, it's very rare to get the complete, accurate story from one person)?

There are most certainly marginally or even outright incompetent managers, I have known and worked with many like we all have. But for every incompetent manager, there are multiples of employees who make every other worker and managers life miserable while doing lowest common denominator work (they're smart enough to stay just above the line to avoid termination).

When the OP relates a work story that includes, 'I didn't get to help choose my new boss (absurd IMO),' 'I know the solution to a problem the company is about to expend a lot of resources to solve, but I'm not going to share it, and other people know too,' and repeatedly tells me 'it's not my job' and 'it's not my area' - it makes me a little skeptical.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:55 AM   #66
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L...
There are most certainly marginally or even outright incompetent managers, I have known and worked with many like we all have. But for every incompetent manager, there are multiples of employees who make every other worker and managers life miserable while doing lowest common denominator work (they're smart enough to stay just above the line to avoid termination).

...

Yup! And that is the same in many companies (at least my experience)!

Some companies, like GE are know for do an annual culling. IMO - this is stressful on all, but also a good idea. No doubt it can be abused and it is used in some cases to settle some old scores.... but for the most partl, most organizations will do their best to keep the best around and get rid of the problems.

I have worked as an engineer (or other professional capacities) and in different management positions. As a worker having peers that are dead weight is about as bad as having a poor manager.

Some confuse a "good manager" with protecting them or insulating them from issues. But the reality is it is a balance. Management often requires a manager to deal with problem issue and make certain demands on staff. It is part of the job.

Frankly, what I have seen.... only about 10% are truly exceptional, the rest are capable with degrees of mediocrity that is self imposed because they spend too much energy trying to avoid things they do not want to do.

There is probably about 10% to 15% that is absolute dead weight that should be fired.... but... this does not happen because a manager is hoping to avoid dealing with the problem.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:57 AM   #67
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I wouldn't over elevate what people here say. We have no real information, so our responses will mostly just reflect our prejudices and habitual ways of responding to seemingly similar events.
I think you are wise to keep an eye out for bureaucratic minefields, but also that worrying about a little temporary overtime would be an error. This is going to be a lot less disruptive than looking for a new job.

Ha

Yup! Well stated.
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:56 AM   #68
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I didn't get to help choose my new boss (absurd IMO)
Interesting to see how strong of a reaction this complaint generated and probably also tells me that my expectation for a collaborative and involved workplace is too high, no matter that this place talks about it all the time. It would have been nice to be involved in the selection process, but my complaint wasn't that *I* wasn't involved, it was that no one was involved. I would have hoped at least someone other than the hiring manager would have been part of the selection process, perhaps interviewed the candidate and discussed his qualifications. I understand reorgs and changes happen, but having a new boss come in with no input from anyone except the hiring manager, then having the new boss reorg the department without talking to anyone in it, is a pretty stark contrast between the collaborative rhetoric and a new autocratic style. I am concerned that with no input from the team, this guy's major qualification could be that he is friends with the hiring manager and his first few actions are doing nothing to alleviate that concern. I am also concerned that this new autocratic style presages other changes that will negatively impact the working environment and make my last few years here much more difficult to live with.

Before I elicit another round of condemnation, let me emphasize, I am describing my concerns here, but not at work, not even in private conversations at work. They have no idea of my hopes to ER in a few years, and they have no idea of my reservations about this new boss and I am trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. or at least an opportunity to grow into the job. They are aware that I am concerned about turnover and I am actively helping recruit new engineers, but that's about it. I did volunteer several ideas in the (now controversial) brainstorming meeting that will solve this problem, at least two of which involve no cost (except to me) and can be done immediately. What I withheld was another idea that accomplishes the same thing, that I thought was noteworthy because it is the MOST OBVIOUS idea, because we've done it before and it was even on the slide set. How obvious can it be. Maybe being so obvious is what prevented anyone from mentioning it, It also involves no cost (except to me) and can be done immediately, but may or may not be superior to the others. What I thought noteworthy was other people who also know it, didn't mention it either, which may be a clue to their attitudes or states of mind, or maybe everyone was just tired. I don't know.

I don't know about the idea that I am somehow disloyal and costing the company money by withholding a possible solution. The meeting ended with no action items and no plan for what to do next. I talked to the machine guy immediately afterward and arranged to try one of my fixes. I think I'm being proactive and working to save the company money. They (hopefully) will not have to run the machine overtime or buy a new one. The people who would have to make those decisions know what I am suggesting and know that I am trying it Monday. I think I am being helpful, without impacting my official job assignment, and volunteering my own time to address this issue (in another department). Potentially I could be costing the company money by not advising everyone else that I am trying a fix, so they may be wasting effort trying something on their own, but we had no discussion about actions to be taken nor any opportunity to say what might be tried or when. Machine guys are not aware of any such efforts underway. I suppose I could proactively go talk to everyone who might be involved in an effort to help and tell them what I'm trying, but that makes me feel acutely uncomfortable and smacks of self promotion much more than any effort to helpfully prevent them from wasting effort. I think that could be taken as openly hostile to my new boss and whatever he is doing, so I am very reluctant to try anything like that. I am concerned that I could be blindsiding my new boss if he is unaware of my extracurricular activities on this issue (thanks for feedback) so I will try to get at least him uptodate as soon as I can.

And I think my next task is to think through Plan A, Plan B, Plan C for what I want to do if this collapse is as bad as I think it's going to be, or maybe if it can be made tolerable or not. Or maybe one of those plans has to be what to do if I'm fired, since there seems to be at least some management schools of thought that I've been behaving badly, and if that idea is shared by my new boss I think that could easily happen. (Again, thanks for the feedback, I would not have otherwise anticipated this possibility).
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:12 AM   #69
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Did we miss something? In May of 2009 you wrote “I got notice today that I will be laid off in 60 days. Poof - job gone. Many people who were laid off in previous rounds have yet to find employment and from what I'm seeing the job market is still pretty thin around here.”

You also posted that they were advertising for your replacement. Somehow I have the feeling all in not right with these post.

So what gives?
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:18 AM   #70
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Interesting to see how strong of a reaction this complaint generated and probably also tells me that my expectation for a collaborative and involved workplace is too high, no matter that this place talks about it all the time. It would have been nice to be involved in the selection process, but my complaint wasn't that *I* wasn't involved, it was that no one was involved. I would have hoped at least someone other than the hiring manager would have been part of the selection process, perhaps interviewed the candidate and discussed his qualifications. I understand reorgs and changes happen, but having a new boss come in with no input from anyone except the hiring manager, then having the new boss reorg the department without talking to anyone in it, is a pretty stark contrast between the collaborative rhetoric and a new autocratic style. I am concerned that with no input from the team, this guy's major qualification could be that he is friends with the hiring manager and his first few actions are doing nothing to alleviate that concern. I am also concerned that this new autocratic style presages other changes that will negatively impact the working environment and make my last few years here much more difficult to live with.
I think that your previous boss fostered such feelings of collaboration, and with the exodus of 30% of management, you will not feel like collaborating. The mistake that many of us make, is that we expect that companies are really nice places to spend a lot of time. However, that simply is not true for many workers. A great match between employee and boss is not easy to find. You had it, and now you don't. I think you're wise to develop alternative plans. When you're boss and others hi-tailed it to the next saloon, they were leading by example. If your values are like theirs, you need to develop alternative plans.
Don't forget that power flows downward. If you do not feel comfortable with the current flowing through your body 40 hours a week or more, it is time to move on.
I also wouldn't be driven too much by the extreme opinions posted on an internet board. How much did you pay for this advice?
I wish you well. It will be interesting to see how you fare.
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:27 AM   #71
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Did we miss something? In May of 2009 you wrote “I got notice today that I will be laid off in 60 days. Poof - job gone. Many people who were laid off in previous rounds have yet to find employment and from what I'm seeing the job market is still pretty thin around here.”

You also posted that they were advertising for your replacement. Somehow I have the feeling all in not right with these post.

So what gives?
At the end of the thread, he mentioned that he received another offer.
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:49 AM   #72
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In May of 2009 you wrote “I got notice today that I will be laid off in 60 days. Poof - job gone. Many people who were laid off in previous rounds have yet to find employment and from what I'm seeing the job market is still pretty thin around here.”
Yes, I was laid off from that job. Luckily I found something new quickly. I know others who looked for a long time and a few who relocated for work when they couldn't find anything locally. I was lucky and had a strong network of former coworkers. I've been here almost 2 years. I'm grateful and appreciative to be here and generally willing to do extra efforts to do the best I can for the company, such as probably more work in other departments off hours. At that place, I also thought I was doing a good job and have absolutely top mark reviews for years, but there was a new manager brought in and I was given my notice almost immediately, within a month or so of his starting. Maybe that partly contributes to my nervous reaction and wary concern about a new manager here that I don't know, and most importantly doesn't know me. I am the old tech guy, who knows lots about obsolete technologies. I know age discrimination is illegal, but it wouldn't surprise me if people think because I know lots about old technology I may not know as much about new technology, and I suspect that contributed to my lay off. With time to get to know me and my contributions, I feel secure managers will see me as a valuable team member even if I am older than they are, but new people who don't know me yet, might make stereotypical assumptions.

They did in fact replace me with a younger (and presumably cheaper) worker. Technically I think I had a strong case for age discrimination. But with a new job to concentrate on, it didn't seem wise to pursue that kind of stressful action. Suppose I won, I wouldn't want to return there to a place that didn't want me. Coincidentally, I also did see recently that they were advertising for a replacement again, so the younger guy must have moved on, and I thought about applying for my old job. Might have been amusing to folks in HR, but since I don't want the job, I didn't do it.
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:54 AM   #73
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Yes, I was laid off from that job. Luckily I found something new quickly. I know others who looked for a long time and a few who relocated for work when they couldn't find anything locally. I was lucky. I've been here almost 2 years. At that place, I also thought I was doing a good job and have absolutely top mark reviews for years, but there was a new manager brought in and I was given my notice almost immediately, within a month or so of his starting. Maybe that partly contributes to my nervous reaction and wary concern about a new manager here that I don't know, and most importantly doesn't know me. I am the old tech guy, who knows lots about obsolete technologies. I know age discrimination is illegal, but it wouldn't surprise me if people think because I know lots about old technology I may not know as much about new technology, and I suspect that contributed to my lay off. With time to get to know me and my contributions, I feel secure managers will see me as a valuable team member, but new people who don't know me yet, might make stereotypical assumptions.
If you don't mind, how much more do you think your experience pays? I know for my job, the next level up pays about $7500. So, at level 3, I make about $15K more than a level 1. Where I work, there is quite a bit of pressure to reduce costs. So, the first layoff was a 58-year old level 3 graphic artist. I would think the same happens in a programming pool.
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:53 PM   #74
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Pay is a pretty complicated issue. I'm a pretty frugal guy and I'm living on much less than my full pay as I try to build up my FIRE stash. I didn't negotiate pay here, just took what they offered, but I didn't negotiate pay at the last place either. Over time, reviews tend to come with raises and over time, I think that makes me more expensive but both the last place and this one are very secretive about pay issues, so I don't have much idea what other people are making. If I had very very good rapport with my boss I suppose I could tell him I'd be willing to work for less if that ever became an issue, but that seems to me to be an exceedingly dangerous conversation to have. The last few times I've gotten new jobs, the pay has been less than the ending pay at the previous place, but technology in general has been a tough job market off and on for almost 10 years, so landing the job has seemed much more important to me than pushing for salary. Over time, I have been very fortunate getting raises, so any step back tends to be eliminated after a review or two.

I do think you are right that companies looking to cut costs tend to look at eliminating more expensive salaries first, and aside from the age issue, that seems not surprising. It's unclear to me what I should do about that, however. I don't want to only take more junior jobs, I'd probably get very bored with the work. It does also mean that the supposed market forces that keep companies honest about offering good benefits and reasonable 401k plans are much less than I think some people claim they are. If workers had an easy choice to make between employers who offered better plans and better working environments and not so good, then those with not so good would need to improve in order to get workers. But most everyone (well, me at least) is only able to find one or a very few jobs at a time, so the choice is only take it or leave it, not which employer is better. When I have no job, I'm willing to accept almost any employer who offers me one.
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Old 05-23-2011, 04:26 AM   #75
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Did we miss something? In May of 2009 you wrote “I got notice today that I will be laid off in 60 days. Poof - job gone. Many people who were laid off in previous rounds have yet to find employment and from what I'm seeing the job market is still pretty thin around here.”

You also posted that they were advertising for your replacement. Somehow I have the feeling all in not right with these post.

So what gives?

Unemployment numbers are concentrated more in certain jobs. Of course this also varies by region.

Certain professions have low unemployment numbers (i.e., full employment or even a shortage of qualified professionals... in certain areas of the country).


Unemployment Rates, a Detailed Look - Infographic - WSJ.com
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:22 AM   #76
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I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned this possibility, but I think it is worth considering, as it may change how you are thinking about the situation.

Since your original easy and straightforward solution to the problem only worked for a year, is it possible that the management (this new guy or maybe someone above him) has already explicitly decided that they want a different, more permanent solution to the problem?

For me, the fact that 1) you were not invited to the original meeting and 2) they did not pick up the solution that you said already worked makes me wonder how well it really worked in the first place and whether they weren't trying to "save you some face" as we say in China.

If I were you I would not make the changes on Monday without first discussing with the new manager. Note that you want to do what you can to improve conditions for the company and that you have a solution that you think will resolve the problem, at least temporarily, while they work out a more longer term fix. Indicate that you are available to help work out that longer-term fix if they feel that would be helpful to the team, and assuming the rest of your workload can be adjusted so that you can do this on regular hours. And indicate that if there is a reason you feel the original fix was not up to standard, you would like to know that and get feedback on what they think you could do to improve your approach to such things.

By approaching it this way, you kill multiple birds with the same stone. YOu open up the floor for dialogue with the new boss, you let him know you have certain skills and are willing to apply them wherever the company needs them, and you show that you are interested in/open to constructive criticism. All done transparently, while clarifying some of the boundaries that are important to you.

Good luck with it. If it were me, I would just try to hunker down and do my job as outlined in the job description, helping out with other things when asked but avoiding volunteerism. Not because I don't agree that it is best if you try to apply your skills wherever the company needs them, but because in THIS particular environment it doesn't look like it is going to be understood/appreciated. You are sticking your neck out and probably making more enemies than friends if you are making it look like other people are incompetent and can't do their jobs. That is a sad kind of situation to be in, especially when you have had a good boss who supported you in the past, but four years is not so long and if you can hang on and weather through this it may be easier than trying to work another transition.

You might be very good as a consultant, though, if there is a market for your services and special skill set. Consultants are supposed to know everything, and they get paid big bucks for it!

Good luck,

lhamo
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:51 AM   #77
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Interesting thread. I can't judge from the discussion whether the workplace is really toxic or OP is creating his own environment. I do understand how people can become turned off by bad bosses. But many of the OP's statements remind me the old bureaucratic refrain, "its not in my job description," often spouted by intelligent but disgruntled employees whining about not wanting to do "so and so's" higher graded work unless they got promoted. They always complained about being passed over by lesser coworkers and never understood that the "lesser talented" drones that did move up were always frequently the very ones who gladly pitched in to get the job done. Dude, you need to work on your attitude or you can expect the same thing wherever you go .
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:53 AM   #78
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Look at the big picture. Your goal is FI then RE. Cash flow is the main goal for the next 4-5 years. This job provides that. Do your job and if you are not happy start a job search. Keep in touch with your buds that left and send out a few resumes. You make your own breaks and testing the waters with a few interviews is not a bad backup plan. (Even though there is another old IT saying ‘Backups are for sissies’).

Don’t fall into the BS that loyalty or hard work is a two way street at companies now days. (Did they give a flip about your opinion?) The goal is cash flow. Let management wallow in their own ignorance and enjoy the show. Combine this with part of the IT infrastructure brain drain and they are probably over weighted with dead wood and loss of experience. Management/Finance 101 books are filled with case studies of poor decisions. It is always better to view in 3D.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:15 AM   #79
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A great match between employee and boss is not easy to find. You had it, and now you don't.
If you'd never had it, you might not now be experiencing such disequilibrium.

Three strategies at once:

1. Grieve the loss

2. Work at keeping your current job (losing income would be disruptive). Pay attention to your body language, reading the politics, and that mixture of keeping your head down while being seen as a positive team player. (Being seen by the new boss as a team player is not always connected with whether a person is, in reality, a team player).

3. See what else is out there and get yourself a job offer or two to consider. Just because you get an offer doesn't mean you have to accept it. But if it's something that would be equally as good, once you have an offer in writing, you could go to current boss and say you wanted a chance to talk with him before you decide whether to accept it. You should be able to deduce from his response how you stand.

An older book called "Fire Your Boss" is a good read for anyone trying to keep a job and a healthy attitude at the same time (not the attitude that megacorp wants you to have). Look online for a used copy.

Kindest regards.
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:09 PM   #80
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BTW just curious if you are willing to share what you decided to do in the end.
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