Thursday, June 10, 2010


I was at dinner with colleagues a few weeks ago and we began talking about one of our peers who had left the company some time ago.  She was a friend...and I liked her very much...but in the last 2-3 years before she left, it became increasingly difficult to work with her for one primary reason...she was MISERABLE.  There was nothing good about anything related to our company or our work.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good bitch session as much as the next person, particularly because there is so much to bitch about.  But every little thing was just a heinous affront to her.  And that poison spreads fast.  Pretty soon, everyone around her was miserable and convinced of the horror that was our workplace was unrelenting and unredeemable. 

After several years of this she left the company.  It was interesting how many people were caught be surprise by her decision.  My only surprise was that it had taken her so long to make the move.  Since then, I've run into her at two conferences - she now works on the client side of our business and she loves it.  She is always smiling and laughing and interested in what is going on.  She revels in driving consultants like us batty with requests, but surprisingly is still pretty loyal to using our company despite how evil an organization she felt it was when she worked here.  She does, however, demand things done her way by her selected individuals because she knows from the inside how to make things work.

Since the MERGER I've noticed that this taint of misery is running through the organization on many levels.  Combine that with lack of promotions, raises, and communications and you have a fatal combination.  And the kicker has been the job market and dearth of opportunities for the miserable ones to pursue elsewhere.

I've had my share of doubts about this organization, the MERGER, and the future of our business as a whole.  But I've been lucky so far.  I've been able to remove myself from some of the more poisonous activities and have found some teams that are friendly, proactive, and positive.  The difference is palpable.  Rather than spending my days in frustration, I'm spending my days with a mixture of challenges and the ever present ridiculous tasks that you can't shake.  The challenges keep it interesting and sometimes make the ridiculous tasks feel like a break.

What is the breaking point for those not so lucky as me however?  For those who now find the organization permanently tainted, I wonder if it is possible for the company to ever regain its appeal.  Because it's true that our company was different.  It attracted some great people and some great clients.  And at the end of most days, you could leave satisified with your work.  It was small enough that even if you didn't know the big wigs, you knew who they were.  It was privately held which meant the stock market was of more interest to you as an investor than it was a driving factor in your business. When you grow by a factor of 10 in one signing of a merger document, and then spend 18-24 months in limbo as the organizations integrate, will any of that shiny center of the company you once loved survive?  Will the people poisoned by the process recover?  Or are the tainted best served by departure?

Today's radio report said that for the 2nd month in a row, more people quit their jobs than left involuntarily.  This economic indicator  may just be the green light the miserable ones are looking for.

When you make your pro/con list, which side do you come down on?  Is it time to go? or is it still right to stay?


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am at a school where some people choose to look at the bad side of everything and refuse to believe anything positive is happening. I stay as far away from those people as possible.

Anonymous said...

The problem arises when economies are in negative mode and people find their options limited, and depression and anger then ensue. And they're toxic, as in the case you cite. They suck all the positive energy out of the place. I watched this happen with my wife in her former job and it started to take a serious toll on her and us. Fortunately, for the last year she has been in a new and much better professional position and life seems so much brighter.

Susan said...

I have worked with people who are negative about every little thing and it drags everyone down. I think it is important for managers to take that kind of attitude as seriously as any other infraction against the company, it is just that destructive.