Dear Mr. CEO,
Five long months have passed since joining the unemployment ranks, during which I frequently played with the idea to write a review. That isn’t my thing. I don’t have a Yelp account, nor is there similar apps on my phone. It’s a struggle for me to complain or omit tips for bad service. But, upon seeing such glowing recommendations for such an inconsequential company, raving how great it is to work for them, there is a duty to save unsuspecting job seekers.
Monday is day 1. at my new big girl job as a Front End Developer, so I decided to clear the air. With wounds thoroughly licked and fresh coffee in hand, I gathered my courage to write. I eagerly visited Glassdoor.com to call boo-boo on the company, and realized… there is just not enough space available to get it all out. See, Glassdoor has very limited fields for entries, segmented into pros, cons and advice to management. The former is, perhaps, the most difficult to articulate. While authenticity is priority, I would hate to resemble Negative Nancy. Plus, there is a discreetly placed disclosure to the right of the main page, reminding reviewers to Community Guidelines, which explicitly tells reviewers to tell it like it is, stay calm, balanced, and take the high road. Given that the reviews are approved prior to release, I’m skeptical my words will ever grace their page. Note: I worked for the company for one year, official title being Healthcare Recruiter.
I met some…nice girls (and a couple guys) whilst serving my time and we have since established distant/cordial relations with each other. It’s the kind of bond that blossoms when people have experienced the same traumas, and decide to huddle together for warmth, protection, and on occasion, a companion to cry into their respective after work cocktails. Not saying they aren’t great people, I just could not nurture a relationship that is a constant reminder of the low point in my career. We do, however, exchange likes/re-tweets on social media and I’m always gracious to hear any delicious office tea missed since my departure.
Found My Passion
Mr Bill and Co. revealed a need for some serious evaluation of my future career prospects; something I embarrassingly neglected before. I witnessed the underbelly of employment that I would rather avoid in the future. I pondered: can I actually do work that makes me happy and provides enough income to supply basic familial needs? (Yes, occasionally there were phone calls to family members pleading for toilet paper money). Note: My perspective may not be shared by others. Some people who, myself included, are quite gracious just for the opportunity to get paid, whatever amount, for an honest day’s work. These are likely the same people sending thanks to their maker for waking in the morning. Realistically, though, this can go in few directions: 1. the employee shrinks to the level of the lowest common denominator in the office, dutifully performs his/her job — slow death aside — and eventually cash-in every two weeks; or 2. work like hell to crawl out of the abyss and run as far away possible… I chose the latter. After months and months of crying, interviewing for jobs that offered more of the same, I pursued an occupation in stark contrast to the former in hopes that the grass truly is greener on the other side.
Taught me Professionalism
My wardrobe is much improved after one year in a company that tried to mimic traditional corporate culture. A brief stint in the military aside, I’m accustomed to looser work environments. On my second day on the job, I was written up for dress code violation. This admittedly is my cross to bare since high school, having been sent to in school detention on several occasions for the same offense. I thought, “OK, fine, I’ll play this game with you” and invested in more “work-appropriate” (read: H&M) clothing. I won’t detail my OOTD, let’s just say no one was hurt. After about six months, eight dress code write-ups, and hundreds of dollars spent, I finally found the right attire to appease the delicate nature of my colleagues. And it really came in handy when I began interviewing with other companies.
The summer season, we were required to work an extraordinary amount of overtime since we recruited for schools. The kid-free summer vacation dreams were replaced with the nightmare of working 9.5 hours for six days a week. Maybe the overtime money was worth it, but really, I had not the strength or time to enjoy any of it. Flex-time is a sin, and to ask is a sin, so any time away from the office is deducted from an employee’s yearly allotted 80 hours. I’m a mother of four, so that lasted until the spring.
When describing the culture, the word “toxic” comes to mind first. During my tenure, I witnessed 7 recruiters come and go (some of which lasted a mere day) and that could be contributed to the stifling working conditions. It’s something that can’t quite be put into words, just a feeling in the are that takes your breath away upon entering. Recruiters are encouraged to hire contractors at the lowest possible rate to increase potential revenue and job postings are frequently old/fraudulent positions posted on employment site aggregates as a ‘lead generation’ tool. Note: before my departure, I interviewed at quite a few staffing agencies and can say this may be common industry practice.
Mr Bill’s top-down management style, caused those below him to lack decision-making authority. There are limited exceptions for this type of corporate culture, and too many reasons it is a bad idea. All the power is in the hands of folks with real titles and infers unquestioning compliance from lowly worker bees. Our innate, intrinsic motivation gave way to fear. It’s like Mr Bill seems stuck in the 1990’s when employees are born slackers in need of strict supervision. In contrast, if Mr Bill were to perhaps believe that work is a natural part of life, his employees do wish to work in the best interest of the company, he’d find folks actually do just that when empowered with decisions about the workplace.
One of my peers (we’ll call her “Jill”) was promoted to Sales Manager. We were stoked for her, but they happiness was soon eclipsed by day one, as she made it her mission to separate herself from the rest to establish her appointed seniority. In our first morning huddle, she was extremely abrasive. I cried. This set the tone for our tumultuous working relationship. As time when on, her micro-managing became tolerable, as I learned to manage my manager and could finally work a whole day without succumbing to anxiety. Somewhere along the way, I found my strength, my eyes were opened. I saw passed the fear inducing, tight-lipped, over-bearing, over-tanned oppressor and pictured her as a working single mother fearful of losing her job under the tyrannical thumb of Mr. Bill (just like me!). By no means did she become a better boss, but it was easier to feel empathy towards her. I being a young divorcee of child-bearing age, am — in my opinion — better positioned than she, being divorcee well past her prime, to switch gears. Note that aside from the aforementioned commonalities, we couldn’t be any different. While now, I might give her a head nod if we pass one another on North Tryon uptown, I did not hug her good-bye before being escorted from the building and my termination.
Advice to Management
My exit interview was not the best. In the end I cussed Mr. Bill six ways from Sunday (which felt very good by the way!). But I’m a much better communicator through written word. I was able to calm down and later articulate my final words through an email, and was surprised at the veritable gratitude I felt. Mr Bill and I are not far removed in age, perhaps a year. While I don’t (yet) run a profitable business, I possess the strength only gained from worldly wisdom, not taught in any Ivy League 101 class. Hopefully Mr. Bill received my message earnestly. I said to him: Don’t allow your company’s potential to be stunted by being out of touch with employees. Listen to their spoken and unspoken needs. Trust them to be engaged in the company’s mission. Their growth will be reliant on treating them as adults, respecting their professionalism, investing in and fostering their success. Forget how you’ve always done things and keep a pulse on the ever-evolving workplace, et cetera.
Who knows if my email was ever opened, but felt damn good to get it off my chest. The whole time I worked there, everyday, I was afraid to swipe my key fob not knowing the vibe on the other side of the door. I was so subjugated by fear that I seriously considered if unemployment was a better alternative. Yes, I interviewed at tons of places, but never offered a job, likely because my zeal for recruiting, sales, commissions, etc. had died after this experience. The circumstances of my firing is a topic for a later post, but in the end, the decision was made for me, and ultimately, I embraced the unknown with the freedom felt free to do whatever the fuck I wanted to do next.