I have worked at some bizarre places in my life, some so strange I lasted only a few days, but I have never before worked for a place that would rather fire people than give them feedback.
Let me start out by saying that unfortunately, regrettably, I myself have not been fired. Yet. But in a discussion I had with a supervisor I found out that someone else is being fired. This is the third person (that I know of) to get the ax since I started three months ago. Poor guy probably doesn’t even know it’s coming.
So since they’re so into firing people, why don’t they just fire me? Well apparently THEY LIKE ME. You know, I’m not usually one to hang around at job I hate so much I’m hoping to be fired, but since it’s only a few days a week at most, I’ve stuck it out while I search for something better. One reason to stick around is money, but the other is experience. I figure if I can make it even six months, I could include it on my resume, making it easier to get the next writing job if I decide to continue in that direction. So how fitting it is that I can’t get fired from the company, but I can get fired from my writing job?
I was called into a supervisor’s office yesterday afternoon and I was told that the copy I was writing for the educational software was good, but they still weren’t getting the right tone for their DVDs. I said I had suspected as much, but that I hadn’t been getting much direct feedback. (In truth, I never got any feedback, ever, just heard smack talk on the other side of the cubicle wall.) I said that I would be happy to talk about it, adjust the tone of the writing, and get it to what they wanted it to be. I was told, “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. We’re not the kind of company that can provide feedback like that.”
I’m sure I looked more stunned than anyone in those pictures they take just as you’re about to go over the edge of Splash Mountain. The conversation boiled down to the following points: 1) This supervisor wanted me to continue to work on his copy (which all but confirms my suspicions that he likes me but this other supervisor, the DVD supervisor, doesn’t.) 2) They want me to substitute for someone who is going on maternity leave in about – oh – four months. I’m not sure what she does, but I’m sure I don’t want to do it. And 3) they want to keep me around but they don’t know what they want to do with me. They know that after they fire this other guy, there will be more work to be done. And I’m sure this guy will be blindsided by the news he’s no longer welcome at the company. He probably thinks he’s doing just fine since no one is capable of offering feedback.
So I have not been fired but my days are numbered. I didn’t like working there before and now it seems ridiculous to stay somewhere that clearly has no clue, no concept even, of what they are doing. I’ve been disappointed with all the mistakes they’ve made on past boxes and it is easy to tell being around these people that they take no pride in their own work. But now it’s also clear they don’t take pride in their own people either. They have dozens of meetings each week during which nothing gets said. They don’t communicate what they want and then they don’t offer feedback. So it seems like a losing proposition all around.
I did accomplish one task I set out to do though, which was to make myself indispensable. After hearing all this news, I said that I would have to think about things, and I mentioned a couple of my complaints, including the early morning hours. I was told they would be HAPPY to work with me on a series of half-days or work from home days. Too little too late. I’m just glad I have an out now. I won’t have to up and quit or leave abruptly, we’ll just come to the conclusion it wasn’t the right fit and I’ll slip out unnoticed and unscathed.
Oh one more thing I should mention. The whole conversation came about because my supervisor wanted me to know what was going on. Apparently the company president wanted to put the ad out on Craigslist for a new copywriter and not tell me until they found someone. Mr. Supervisor thought I might figure that out and be a little mad. So kudos to him on that piece of good judgement.
I’m not sure how I end up in places like this but it’s uncomfortable and disheartening and weird. Maybe it’ll help me appreciate the next place that much more.
Working all day for a mean little guy
With a bad toupee and a soup-stained tie
He’s got me running ’round the office
Like a gerbil on a wheel
He can tell me what to do
But he can’t tell me what to feel