A Letter to my Former Employer: I’m Number One

This is what I would very much like to say to former co-workers who had a part in my departure from this fast-food company I used to work for, either directly or indirectly. Maybe I’ll get the chance to say this one day. The company would actually be the perfect example of horrible business strategy: poor understanding of the target demographic, hostile work environment, poor work culture, sexism, racism, poor management, poor organization, frequent lawsuits from partners, crude training, no innovation, no to low standards, lack of collaboration, etc. I am trying so hard to think of one good thing about the company that it is giving me a headache, so I must stop.

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Dear All:

I want to thank you for letting me go. I had wanted to quit since after the first month, but I stayed for the money. I convinced myself to stay for just a few more months, just long enough to settle some debts and establish a solid savings. I then got the corporate card, and put off leaving until after the corporate card was paid because I was all to familiar with how well-organized the company is. Then I though it might be nice to have a corporate job on my resume for at least a year, and then that would coincide with bonus and the Olympics, so maybe I should stay a little longer for that whopping week vacation.

I had a friend looking for a job. I was honest with her and told her that I would only refer her so I would have company at work, but that I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. From day one I felt like an outsider. From people name dropping universities, incorrectly, by putting a near by state school and MIT in the same breath not understanding that those who attend the latter have no idea what the former is, AT ALL. The way people looked at me as a minority female and really made me want to start swearing in the 5 languages I know, carry around my top tier diploma (top tier meaning “top ten of the ranked”, not just bragging about it being ranked), brag about my two degrees of separation from the president, Donald Trump, and even an MVP quarterback, and my one degree of separation from a Principal at McKinsey.

You told me the numbers were bad, the partners complained, my attendance was poor, and the little bimbo in HR dropped something about the company being “results-driven.” Where did she go to school again? While she was playing with finger puppets, I wrote a 60-page thesis, which later became a published book now available on Amazon. From what I could see, I had the best numbers period, not just for a female. As I understood the company more, I could see why that might be a problem.

The company value was falling, but that was going on prior to my arrival. I had looked at the financials hoping to talk about rapid growth, but was surprised to find none. With regards to the partners, one woman was mad that she did not get what she wanted and deleted emails to support her claim that she was being ignored. I had all the emails. Even while out for bereavement I responded, but I guess you must have believe the gossip that I was on vacation, hence “attendance issues”, despite the fact that I frequently stayed late too. The partners were frustrated in general because they were given the run-around and saw that internal communication was poor and I neither denied it or affirmed it. I tried to fix it, but as my colleagues spoke of things like “sink or swim” and “passing the hot potato” it appeared that the problems were just supposed to be swept under the rug while at the same time trying to find a scape goat. Que me.

I was your scape goat. I worked my ass off to be the best in the midst of poor organization and people running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to be the best and trying to be the elite when they can’t even distinguish up or down. You blamed me for issues with a large partner that wasn’t even mine to control. You all would have known that if you had bothered to be organized and have decent managers. Or maybe you did know. Now your rhetoric, the same one that includes “meritocracy” and “results-driven” has blown up in your face.

Before I left the bimbo from HR told me I would still have health insurance. I didn’t really believe her. I requested written confirmation and got no response. Once I needed the insurance I thought I’d call to see the status: inactive as of the end of my last month with the company. More rhetoric, but yet in the U.S. there is this thing called COBRA. Since I’m not the HR bimbo, I know what it is. Since I am not the HR bimbo, I can pull up my records where I reached out to her for confirmation of health insurance and she never responded. So I hope you enjoy the fine you will be receiving from the U.S. Department of Labor and thank you also for confirming that I was in fact surrounded by idiots while working for your company. Also, consider this payback for not paying the corporate card on time, but I will also be doing everything within my power to get you blackballed from recruiting on elite campuses, no that will not include that little state school you are so fond of.

And then there’s your little cult mantra that includes “meritocracy”. Typically companies with strong, positive cultures that are in fact meritocratic do not need to advertise this on every wall… I saw that my salary and bonus was used nicely to give raises, namely to those who didn’t ask questions and behaved like good drones sucking up to their male superiors and talking about how the little wife is at home wishing he would come home early from work because she’s been waiting for him all day to take her shopping.

Next, my favorite, “results-driven”. During my exit meeting I had nothing to say at that point because it didn’t register. It’s not that I needed time to process, my brain could not compute that NONSENSE.  That’s your company’s mantra and then you let me and countless others like me go, or they leave. It really seems like you and I were just playing a game of chicken. The bimbo tells me the reasons for letting me go was because the company is “results-driven” but yet I went to a top 10 private school, a top 10 university, a top 10 graduate school and have a résumé would confirm the fact that she was sitting in class playing with finger-puppets. Borrowing, and modifying a line from Captain Philips: I’m number one.

You all schemed, laid off, and spewed rhetoric to become number one, but I am number one. Thank you. I work for a billion dollar company. Your earnings only represent a tenth of ours. They give decent benefits and still have earnings that blow yours out of the water! Did I mention that my company is in fact number one? I don’t think I did. Just so we’re clear, this is what “results-driven” looks like, not whatever sham of a company you are running.

So, again, thank you. Thank you for helping me leave when I wouldn’t. Thank you for showing me what the bottom is and releasing me to be with my people, smart people, results-driven people.

Be sure to keep an eye out for that fine from the Department of Labor. I wouldn’t want you to miss it because they’ll probably charge interest, if they haven’t done so already. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Also, let me know if you want me to send you some postcards from my 3-week vacation in China. Oh, but they’ll be in Chinese. I hear Chinese is a hard language to learn. I wouldn’t really know though because I speak it 😉

 

Cheers,

WHL

Transitions Too

First off, let me give my sincerest apologies for the typos. I’ve just been free writing these posts and hoping that the words come together in a cohesive organized fashion.

So I started my new job in July. But, before I get to my first day, when I received the intial offer, based on conversations I had had with the recruiter, I thought I was going to get a signing bonus, and that helped me deal with the fact that I felt I was being underpaid by $10K. I was also hoping to start in June. Well once I got the offer with no bonus, I was distraught. I still had a lot of moving expenses to cover, so I was hoping that this offer would get me over that hurdle. I thought about the offer and realized I had no choice to accept, and resigned to be grateful for a salary that was above average for the area, but low for what I could be offered elsewhere. I was sincerely grateful, but there was just some miscommunication.

I was working in collections. Past tense, yes, as you can tell, I am no longer there. I was fine with working in collections. I put my budget together and looked forward to the end of the year when I would recover from the move. The people I worked alongside with seemed nice, the office was multilingual (the majority owners of the company are also Latin American), and the company is recognized worldwide. I put aside the fact that their product depends on exploiting the inability of poor people to afford more healthy lifestyle choices. (I would occassionally buy the product, but I was trying to actually stay away from it completely.)

The company is not cheap or frugal, they are stingy. They provided no supplies;  you would just take what someone left. That’s was not a problem. I was excited about working together as a team to meet our MBOs and get that end of the year bonus. I am very competitive and I strive to be first. Especially as the only female in that role, I was going to be first. However, first, I took a step back and observed. A shadowed a veteran in the position as I waited for IT to gicve me the access I needed. It took them a month. They didn’t respond to emails, those that said they would assist did not respond to emails. The culture was pretty much unless you are important within the company what you have to say does not matter, especially if you are new and a female. To those essentially not from the Northeast, I can be brasive. I felt that I was being hustled too, also part of the company culture, and I felt that I had been lied to about the “teamwork” at the company. They guy I was shadowing also advised that it was best to keep my head down, I should have listened – but I really couldn’t, and that I should be more assertive. I’m not one to pretend I know something when I don’t. I ask questions. Asking questions and understanding the full process was frowned upon (especially since very few people knew what the process, policies, and procedures were). I was trying to collect money from one client and she was asking about a trace number. I tried to but her in touch with AR, asking them to supply the information that she needed because that was not my area and I had no idea what she was talking about. There was silence on the other end. Eventually the women in AR said she did not respond because she did not understand… Ok.

The guy I was shadowing also suggested I push back a little more. In retrospect, I don’t know whether he was being helpful or whether it was a ploy to get me let go. But that’s the enivronment that company fosters, one where you cannot trust your team, you have to look over your shoulder, and you make sure you are not the last one holding the ball. I was warned by people when I had applied to the company last year, but I figured it could never hurt to try, especially since there are very few worlwide companies based in my “dream” city (not sure if I want to be here anymore). There were no good things said before I got there or when I was there. It was about the money, and there was soooo much gossiping going on. That was really foreign to me.

But so, I took the reigns. First I attended a quarterly meeting, found out a family member had passed, and then I decided that the slowness and confusion at the office needed to end, and I was going to focus on getting that bonus. I don’t miss deadlines. (I might have missed some.) But I didn’t go to the schools that I went to, and learn the languages that I did while missing deadlines and not being results driven, one of the company’s mantras. I get results. I was going to have the highest collection numbers, and all my accounts were going to be reconciled by the end of the year, because I could do that. Our collections goal was 95%, but I could go past that. After the quarterly meeting I saw how much the 1st place field performer got, and I wanted that. I needed that.

I put the experience aside after how long it took for me to get the tools I needed to do my job. For being so results driven, the company sure did not do much to provide me with the tools to do my job and not just sit there twittling my thumbs. One of my colleague’s said they like to just throw you in there to see how you do. I had given IT space, but several requests went in for the same thing, and the first ones were even from the higher ups. They were supposed to clone another ID, which they had done in the past, but they weren’t able to do it now for whatever reason, and they did not communicate that. They did not say they needed more information, they ignored it. Then once the ticket was assigned, they only addressed one request. I did say thank you along they way as I got help, but I realized I needed to have a more heavy-hand and really push them for quality and follow-through. They just wanted the ticket out of their queue. Another time, they said they were waiting for approval. The first two times, IT gave me the names of whom I could follow up with. One of them was one of my supervisors (reading and responding to emails was not something of value there), and the other was someone who had an away message on and instructed the receiver of that email to contact someone else for immediate needs! Did IT acknowledge that email, no! It just sat in purgatory…

I got quicker results when I was more direct, which came as I got a better understanding of the process with no help from my boss who was in the field and gave no feedback. This was the trial period, so maybe it was normal to not provide feedback? I had contracting positions that were longer and with more respected companies and they provided feedback: constructive criticism, and praise. Most of what my boss said was why don’t you do it like the other guy, this is not what I got before, as the people there. So I spent more time communicating with AR and with people at the headquarters, because when I pushed them, I got answers. My vibe from my boss was that he just wanted to be left alone and wished I was a guy, particularly that other guy. I sensed a lot of whining, and it appeared that for being a mostly male environment, a lot of them needed to grow a pair. (Pardon my French).

Then the rest of the field team. They said let them know if I needed them to follow up with the franchisees in the field. I did, and conversations were spotty. It was mostly email, again the emails that no one really reads. As the merger approached, I guess that was when the conversations were less. Right before then I wanted to quit and regretted not having continued to submit applications in June as I waited for my July start date.. I was grateful to be done with the job application process, or so I thought…

So most of the franchisees were cool. This one lady was fussing, literally whining about how it had been two weeks since she got a response. It had been less than a week, I was on bereavement, and she conveniently omitted my response emails from her chain with her whining. She was one of those women whose husbands allow them to play around with the business although they lack common sense, skill, and the aptitde to acquire those things. I have nothing against rich people, the elite, etc. The ones that I know who have more clout than that lady and are much more respectable. So the field guy who works with her followed up with me, which I appreciated. He wasn’t cc’d on all the emails, so I sent them to him and explained that she was lying about the response time and new it. I took his advice and tried to cc them on the emails going forward. As some of them sat on documents I was told to collect, I wasn’t cc’d though… Also this one field guy let everyone else call him Bill, but for me I had to address him by William… He was cordial to me for the most part though, except this time when we were dealing with a difficult franchisee and he wanted me to get the policy so we could be clear and present a unified front so his credibility wouldn’t be messed up. No one cared about my credibility as I “followed up” (those annoying words that everyone used without being specific and being sure that they were talking to the right person), and I should have been more concerned. BILL was there before I was, so he should’ve already known the policy. And the way he was talking to me was as if I was his assistant. Even when I was let go I held my tongue, but with my experiences and connections, I really could have put him in his place…

I would contact franchisees about documents we needed and they would say they already turned them in and clearly highlighted the organizational and communication issues we were having. This one woman did not double check the status of the documents that she would email to everyone and say were pending… I met with her though and we got some clarity and I felt better about working for her. Right at the end of August I knew the process better than most people, and that was an issue.

July numbers were 99.1. My boss said he was surpised they were that high because he thought it was going to be impacted by something else. In August July numbers went to 98.1. AR applied open balances incorrectly, didn’t tell me they were applied at the end of the month, and didn’t work to get them paid because the collection numbers aren’t within their scope. Yes, it’s not within their scope, but they need to act with more discretion because of the impact on the company, and the so-called “team”. My boss was not aware of anything that was going on, and I don’t really think he cared much anyways. I was going to find the problem and fix it, which I did and now those jerks are benefitting from my hard work.

I worked early mornings and in the evenings. All they were concerned about was that they did not see me at my desk at 9:30am, when I was told I could work from home. The office was chaotic and unorganized. People would just find people to do things, even if they were the wrong people, and then I felt that I was intentionally being sabatoged, so I worked from home more to get the work done and get that bonus.

I worked so hard to correct what had impacted the July numbers, and got it fixed. It was impacting August numbers too. Everyone’s August numbers were low at the middle of the month. At the end of the month, there was still one guy with low August numbers, but mine were the highes at 99.8%. I was told a deadline. One franchisee had an Aug 29th deadline, and he represented the majority of my account. I was told to “follow-up”. I said it wasn’t due yet, so what should I do? I was handling it, but it seemed that they wanted something else, and I was trying to figure out if the deadline had changed or if the policy dictated something otherwise. They probably didn’t get this, because their minds probably resorted to she needs extra support. The only thing I needed was for people to shut up, calm down, and do things right the first damn time.

The numbers for all the regions were also affected in August because of one of our larger franchisees, in my area, but mananged by the guy who was formerly in my role. I don’t think the field team knew that, and I think they blamed me. The guy said he was going to handle it, and he did. In the end, by the deadline, all the numbers were there. In the middle of August, I felt that I was being forced out. I was out for bereavement and I had some people ask me if I was on vacation. I went to lunch with some people and there was some gossip, which surprised me, so I have no doubt that people gossiped about me. They did it in high school. I could have announced the family loss, but I didn’t want to talk about it because it was personal, and because I didn’t know the people at work well enough. Maybe deep down inside I also wanted to see what would happen, to see if people actually knew their own policy. My boss had actually said “take all the time that you need”. I didn’t take that literally, but I was also wondering why he would say that if it wasn’t true. I’m more of a literal person, and at all the other places I have worked at in my field there was more of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, and also integrity. I was supposed to edit some slides too at some point, and it said for field team, since I wasn’t on the field team, I didn’t work on that. I wasn’t trying to step on anyone’s toes, and I had other things I could be working on.

So with the merger, there were talks of layoffs. It had happened before. I was warned before getting there, and once there. I had a sixth sense about this. It was creepy. I was determined to be perfect, or at least be number one by the end of August. I worked long hours, mostly from home, and I think had I not been at home, they would have let me go sooner. First, I had called my boss to check in, he didn’t answer. He wasn’t available the previous week either, so I was a bit suspicious to be honest. I was told that the numbers were the lowest they had ever been, that people complained about my attendance, and that the franchisses complained. I was calm, but I asked about the numbers and pointed out that they were 99.8%. My boss repeated that the numbers were the lowest they had ever been in the last 15 months. He sounded like a broken record. My mother who has a MBA and worked for a more profitable company said that with mergers, companies have to be careful with how they let people go. But from that conversation, I sensed the BS. Then the HR person said it’s a results-driven place. I looked at her with a blank face and I also said I guess that I could be honest about everyone telling me not to work there since I was already out the door. All I was focused on was the results, and I ignored the brown-nosing. As I wanted to leave anyway, at least this way I was still getting my vacation time. They almost lef me with the bill on the corporate card though, and didn’t let me send in the death certificate to waive at least the fligh change fee.

That was a learning experience. It was my first hostile work environment. Beyond that though, in matrix organizations (I actively avoid them now), I should be more proactive in communicating with my boss, especially, and any other field members. I need to kind of brag/say what I have been doing each step of the way with regards to what they have asked of me. And also, its really not good to be desparate for any job, having options is better. I should develop a poker face, and unfortunately also talk more about my credentials, especially in places like this when more respect and response is given to those with that status. I hate the last one though, and hate environments like that. Everyone has a job to do, so everyone should be responsive, and not intimidated. Like my last boss longed for his all guy team, I now long for being around people who don’t micromanage, are more intellectual, are team players, are truly resuls-oriented, are concerned about adequate training, and are not intimidated. I had all that a companies/organizations that were more impressive than the last one I was at, and in areas that were less superficial and known for having workers who are about providing quality work while meeting tight deadlines.

Thankfully that this is but one spec out of all the places that I have worked, which if I were to be graded for all the jobs I’ve had would still put me in the high 90s, at a 99.8% perhaps… It would be so great to have stayed at number 1 for August, and have a chance to show my smug look.