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Section 8: A True Story

It's about time I got some things off my chest. A year ago, after an extensive (and mostly unfruitful) job search, I was finally hired by a small, local private company engaging in market research. For the purposes of this blog, I am going to call this company Section 8 Market Research Group, LLC. Section 8 for short. I do this for two reasons.

1) I hold no animosity toward the people who work there, and don't wish to further involve them. In fact, the truth is that I enjoyed working at Section 8. I even miss it sometimes. I learned a lot there, and it was an experience I look back on fondly... even the stuff that was completely insane.

2) The company owner thinks anyone who wrongs him deserves to be sued. By wrong him, I mean does anything he doesn't like... for example, finding a different job.

When I started at the company, I was very excited to prove myself and show what kind of employee I could be. And I did. I showed myself to be extremely capable and was quickly recognized for my capabilities. This was, perhaps, a mistake on my part. I would have ultimately fared better to not make it known that I was ambitious and willing. As it was, I showed an innate ability to come in at crunch time and save projects that would otherwise have failed. Not only did I become trusted for important projects, but I also became the go-to guy for problem projects. By problem projects, I mean projects that became problems due to management incompetence. I don't mind problem projects... I find them fulfilling and challenging. However, they rarely go off without a hitch, since they were usually nightmares long before I got to them. And at Section 8, that means that when things go wrong, you'll end up with the blame. Everything at Section 8 is about blame. I'll gladly take it when I'm responsible. But at Section 8, the blame never rested with management. It was always the fault of the employees.

Take for example, employee turnover. This is one of the most costly and wasteful problems a company can have. At Section 8, company turnover is an amazing 100%. Why? After several decades in business, the company just hadn't found the right people. Really? How long could it possibly take? When I arrived, of the five employees in our group, three had started in the last month. Only one had been there longer than a year. Today, a year later, only two have been at the company longer than a year, and one gave his two weeks notice over five months ago. In the last two months, four of the members of the group either quit or were fired (despite adequate or excellent performance.) The company is a nightmare, and I finally left because the other option was to simply go insane.

So I start off today by addressing one of the final straws that made me leave. Let's call it the Blowback Incident.

The Blowback Incident

One day a customer of ours arrived to discuss further research. I was not able to attend, so I gave the company owner (let's call him Mr. Sate from now on) materials from a previous stage of our research project that we had completed over six months earlier. Big mistake! Mr. Sate handed the customer the research as if it was something we were still working on. Then I was given the research product back by my direct manager and told to revise it because it needed more work.

We already finished this project, I told her. Just run it through the review process again I was told. Fine, so I did so, making alterations along the way when recommended. But things only got worse. We finally had a meeting between Mr. Sate, my direct manager, and myself regarding the project.

Mr. Sate felt he was getting "blowback" from me regarding the project because I was doing things like mentioning the project was already complete. I would have happily continued work on the project, but we had already billed the customer, and there was no budget to continue work. (And going over budget was grounds for termination.) But Mr. Sate showed me the proof that I was wrong. The project had been worked on since the original report was delivered to the client. He showed me two different copies of the report in an effort to catch me in my web of lies. Well, what could I say about that?

The project had been worked on because,as I mentioned earlier, I was told to review and revise it the week before. But for some reason, he refused to accept this explanation. Never mind the revision, he said, the project had been, well, revised. Uh....

(He often refused to accept answers that were placed right in front of him. He would tell you that the project needed to include something, and you could say "it's right there on page 24" and he would say "no it isn't." You would say "yes, see, right there." "No, it's not.")

Finally my frustration level was to the point that I told him "fine, don't believe me." What else was I supposed to do. I felt like I wasn't even in a meeting with an adult.

I had been ready to leave for a long time. And I decided that the only way to stay was not to put up with insanity. I wasn't going to take the ridiculous demands anymore. And I guess by calling him on his behavior, Mr. Sate was getting "blowback" from me.

This wasn't the only reason I finally chose to leave. But it was one of the last, and frankly one of the most ridiculous. I found the need to blame me and attack me childish and petty. I found the inability to understand basic concepts infuriating. And it was just another in the long list of reasons why Section 8 was a terrible, terrible employer. I do miss it, in a weird, sick, co-dependent way. But at the same time, I'm so, so, so glad I'm gone.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 16, 2007 11:16 PM.

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