Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 4

On Monday I decided to put off looking for work or even thinking about it until next week. So far, that's working for me. I'm still waking up with a knot in my gut though. The brochure they gave me on "how to survive a lay off" says I'm grieving. I'd say that's pretty accurate. Sure feels like a breakup after a 5 year relationship.

They laid me off. I have it in writing. So at least I can say it wasn't my fault. The brochure says it's natural if I feel anger. Not sure if I feel anger. Think I'm hurt that they didn't even consult with me before they dropped the axe. But that's how it happens, and that's business. I guess relationship doesn't count at the end of the day on Friday.

I almost fought for my job when it happened. I didn't because I had nothing to stand on. If you know my situation, you might disagree with me, or feel that I was betrayed. Unfortunately I cannot say that they did betray me. Here's why:

Yes they uprooted Cindy and me and moved us to Southern California. But it was the Operations Manager at the time that negotiated my pay with me. It was later discovered that the OM didn't consult the Owner about that, and so the Owner got stuck with it. I had successfully negotiated the top pay I could get because it was going to cost so much to move down and Cindy's employment was not set in stone yet. A few months after I moved down, the Owner let the Operations Manager go.

I kicked ass at my job, running the facility in Van Nuys. I was proud of what I did. The 4am mornings really sucked though. But I made it through, I owned all the responsibilities there, and I grew the sales of the house accounts by a lot in those months, even DOUBLING the budget they had set. TWICE. And part of the pay I negotiated with the former Ops Manager was that I would get a similar bonus pay structure as the salesmen because they wanted to grow the business with the house accounts a lot. The Owner was shocked, and I had to prove it to him in writing, which luckily I had.

That made me the highest paid manager in the company apparently. I had no idea. So months after working in SoCal, upper management had decided I needed to move into the field as a salesman in order to justify my pay. Of course it was pitched to me as "We believer there is a lot of business out there that the two salesmen who have been in your territory for ten years aren't calling on. Your mandate is to identify and get that business. Go!"

This time it was the Sales Manager who negotiated my pay. I got to keep my base pay, and then got the standard seller's package. Which is a sweet deal I might add. But before I accepted the position, because I could see the writing on the wall, I asked the Sales Manager, "What happens if I don't find the numbers you think are out there? If I'm busting my butt and doing the work, are you going to let me go?" And he said that they wouldn't let me go if the market didn't support me. That they would give it 2 years and if it didn't work out, they'd find a different place for me in the company.

So I set out to do my new job with practically no guidance and little training. I had some great support from the other salesmen, who knew what kind of position I was in. And none of them thought it was very fair. But I took the challenge.

Then, a few months later, the Sales Manager stabbed the company in the back and decided to leave and compete against us by buying another company. He'd known the Owner for I think over 17 years. They'd been family friends. You want to talk about betrayal. THAT'S betrayal. And again, I think that second part of my arrangement with the Company about what if the market doesn't support me, didn't get communicated with the Owner. And so here I am, a result of what I feared the most when I took the job.

Am I a victim? No. I knew the risks. I'm proud of the work I did. The Owner may have known about my arrangement with the Sales Manager, and even if he did, in light of the strategic decision they made to cut 20% of the workforce at the company, I would not have mattered. The truth is, the company was hemorraging. I know it's not personal. Hell, they let go someone who'd been there way longer than me. But you just want to think that maybe you'd be that special case, where they try and make it work because of your relationship.

Business is business and it doesn't succeed by making acceptions based on relationships if it doesn't directly affect the immediate needs of saving the ship if the ship is sinking.

So what's next?

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