A New Chapter: Mumbo #5

Colin Dunbar
Mar 4, 2019 · 5 min read

WARNING: This post contains profanities. If you’re offended by the f-word, don’t read it.

The title has nothing to do with a song.

It’s about the corporate mumbo-jumbo BS. The absence of leadership. Arrogance. Greed.

I have just gone through my fifth retrenchment (made redundant) in my career of almost 4 decades. Not bad, considering.

To be honest, I have been very fortunate with every retrenchment. I’ve either found another job very quickly, or I’ve been in a position to work from home. Not one of the retrenchments put me in a dangerous position of prolonged unemployment. This, I believe, was because of my keen interest in business, and my constant pursuit of almost always being busy with some or other side hustle. And, of course, times were different.

There is one thing about retrenchment that I find pathetic…

Leadership — what’s that?

As an employee, you are regarded as a disposable thing, in almost every company.

When a memo is sent out to the staff, and it says that the company restructure “will reduce the headcount … by at least 50%.”

What does that say?

Headcount.

Like sheep led to the fucking slaughter house. Or like discarding outdated computer equipment.

These are actually people they’re talking about. People with families, responsibilities, etc.

To every employee out there, always, always, remember this: you are a number on a balance sheet. If that number does not look good, it’s removed. Period.

I understand business. I’ve worked as a contractor, been in management, ran my own corporation for 5 years, and I know that the basis of business is to make a profit. Business 101. And yet, when the chips are down (or a company begins to sink), the upper echelon very, very, rarely take a cut in their rewards. Fucking amazing that the upper crust lose nothing, but the staff on the shop floor, the idiots who actually contribute to the company’s income are the ones who get cut.

Profit in lieu of the people?

That is total lack of leadership.

Reminds me of what Sir Richard Branson said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

When we learn of CEO’s who “as part of working through it I voluntarily reduced my salary by 40% until early 2017.” (https://joel.is/angel-investing/), it seems unreal. And he’s not the only leader out there who would do something like that, although they are in the minority. When I learn of something like that, I ask myself: what is the level of loyalty in that company?

Going Forward

I empathize with people who experience retrenchment (redundancy) for the first time. If you have never experienced it, you won’t know what I’m talking about. It can be a daunting experience.

I’m grateful for my pursuit of, and interest in almost always having some or other side hustle going. This is largely due to my keen interest in business, and it has often helped me out of a scrape especially when I was subjected to retrenchment. And my experience of running my own small business has also benefited me. This has better equipped me for this present situation I find myself in.

If you have even the slightest interest in starting your own side hustle, go for it. Really. If you’re interested in starting your own side hustle, and looking for ideas or encouragement, I highly recommend visiting www.thesidehustleschool.com, and Chris’ book, Side Hustle is a gold mine.

In South Africa, 59 years old is considered an ancient dinosaur in the workplace. I have to smile when I think of the recruitment agents who have contacted me on LinkedIn, and when I share my age (57 and 58 at the time), I never hear from them again. I know, it’s fucking ridiculous!

For me, I do not have any wish to return to the corporate mumbo-jumbo BS. Nada. Zip. Zero.

For every employee out there, keep this in mind, always: no matter what you do, you are a number on a balance sheet. And if that number is not right, it will be deleted. Fact. When the chips are down, the balance sheet rules supreme.

The very first mention of retrenchments came around November 2018. And even though I spoke to members of upper management, I was told “there are no plans for retrenchments.” Having been in similar circumstances, I could see things were going downhill, and kept asking. I always got the same response.

Starting in January, I became more aware of what was going on in the company: level of morale, projects in progress, share price, etc. I began talking to more and more people. The picture didn’t look good.

And then on January, 31st we received the memo: retrenchments were being implemented, and the company would accept applications for voluntary retrenchments.

Time to think.

The Plan (Road Ahead)

Considering what I had learned over the previous few months, I had no doubt that I would be retrenched.

Do I take voluntary retrenchment, or wait it out?

Pen and paper were taken up.

I made notes and did calculations.

My wife and I spoke about it.

I had zero trust in upper management, but spoke to certain individuals again. Nothing different.

The deadline for applications was drawing nearer.

Two days before the deadline, my wife and I discussed the scenario and plan, and we made the decision…

Go for it.

The final decision to go ahead with this was as result of the tremendous help I got from my son. He gave me a MacBook Pro which will enable me to create professional quality videos (and a lot more). This is something completely new to me, and I’m eager to get into it.

I reviewed my skills and experience, all my work-in-progress projects, and with the help of my son, I began to put a plan together.

Am I taking a risk?

Yes. A calculated risk.

I will not let the decision (or fuck up) of a large corporate derail me and fuck up my life.

Colin Dunbar

Written by

www.ColinDunbar.com

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