Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Job, part 2

For about seven years, I had a manager who was and still is a Director. Let's call her T. She and I got along quite well.

About a year ago, my group and I, and two other groups in the company (all three are in different locations in the country) were moved to be under a different Director, let's call him G. I was apprehensive of dealing with him, but I decided to see how it went.

G and I have a history. Both of us go back quite a while in the company, both of us left at one time or another, and later came back. There's other history, some not so pleasant. (More on this later.)

In any event, after some months, G decides that instead of the local staff in my group reporting to me, and I report to him, he will change the structure and have everyone in the group report directly to him.

This, as you may imagine, raised a serious red flag to me about his intentions. Among other changes was to be a reorganization about who in the group did what, including my role. Needless to say, as you could guess, I was being moved to a less in-the-line-of-fire position. Namely, I would not be directly handling the day to day aspects of some of the product production I had been.

And what was my role to be? I asked. He went one a bit about giving him advice on one major area that I had a lot of expertise in.

I asked for further clarification, but I did not get simple responses.

So I asked the following question: 'If I wasn't at the company at the moment, and you determined you needed to hire someone to do the role you are envisioning for me, given that most job titles are one to five words, what job title would you put on a job posting?'

Unfortunately, there was no solid answer. All I got was some 'I'm not sure yet' kind of reply.

That told me clearly that the handwriting was on the wall. And that if I wanted to continue to be employed, I should do something about it.

So I updated my resume. Sent out a few. Made some inquiries.

While I found that coincident with the economy doing poorly, there are much fewer jobs available than would be normally, but there are a few. Not hopeless, was my conclusion.

I did speak to T, letting her know my feelings. I felt I owed it to her, given how we worked closely together, how she helped me when I returned to the company. And my leaving would impact the product under her responsibility.

She told the VP who called me to ask me not to leave, and he also called G who also called me. G said 'no, it wasn't my intention to push you out', etc.

So after thinking it over, I decided I would stay for some time and see what happens. At least until the next version of the product under T's responsibility is released, due mid-year sometime.

Also, I know from experience what can happen with a job change. It can be extremely difficult to accommodate a new job. The loss of familiar casual contacts and friends, new personalities and related issues, can make the changes to a new situation devastating. I've been through it. So it not something to do lightly.

So while my ego was bruised by the organizational changes, I was still employed.

'You never know' is something to keep in mind at all times. Jobs are often ephemeral, companies come and go, places we might think will last indefinitely can go up in a puff of smoke. We've all seen it.

And I have no illusions that my current situation will last indefinitely. But while I am there, I am there.

At least that was my decision.

But being in this new role has felt as if a demotion. Maybe it surely is. And I can convince myself that my annoyance and anger is justified.

I know intellectually that the person hurt most by any anger would be me. I can see how ambiguous the situation is for many around me in the office. I've been in that manager role for more than ten years, and now... now, what? I become (in the world of corporate buzz words) an 'individual contributor'.

Many around me still treat me as if I am still in the role of manager. I am still approached by many for assistance and advice. As there was no wide-spread announcement of these changes, so, awkward as it may be, it is up to me to tell people who do not know, and I must say to some: 'you may not know this, but I am no longer in the role of manager...' I find it so distasteful that it is up to me to say such a thing.

In my new role, in what feels like a diminution, my focus has narrowed. I can see that, yes, I do have a lot of experience in the role G has asked me to focus on. Definitely more than any one else in the local office, possibly as much or more than one one else in the company. So there is some good I see in that.

But overall, I do feel in a diminished role. Does it mean I should care less about what goes on in things outside that role? Sometimes I feel I should.

And that's probably where the anger really comes in. Angry at myself for caring about things and thinking I shouldn't care about them. Seeing things that could be better and not feeling like I should bother saying anything to any about them.

There are many layers to this story. There is the major outsourcing overseas that is going on at the company at the same time. So now much of my role is dealing with them (i.e., trying to remotely correct problems that occur at the outsourcing company related to the area that I concentrate on). And the inevitable thinking that all this outsourcing leads to fewer jobs here, and the layoffs that occurred here in the company as a result might eventually continue.

And possibly include me someday.

In addition, family issues (deserving its own posts for sure). My father, 89, is dying of lung cancer. So the impending loss weighs heavily in its own right, sometimes complicating my emotional state.