Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Half Full . . maybe not!

Ok I'm officially sick of this economic downturn although I've been in a downward economic spiral for the past five years and through two recessions before. The glass has always been half full but I'm finding it a little hard to keep my chin up today.

The Most Annoying Paraplanner in The World was retrenched today - two days after returning from Annual Leave and two weeks before Christmas which is a bit cruel considering her payout would have been greater with 3 weeks leave up her sleeve.

Frankly I'd have sacked her before now because she was not greatly productive but I didn't see that one coming and I'm the HR person! Well I thought I was. We in the Quad of course knew there was something up - she moved from office to office, shut doors and long conversations with a planner she liked and each of the Partners. It was clear she was leaving but the redundancy took us all by surprise. She told her PA (who stayed schtum), said her goodbyes and I've no doubt 'vented' her spleen to those behind doors prior to her leaving but said nothing to three of the Quad members - testament to what she thought of us I suppose.

Then at 5pm, one of the Partners who was visibly upset by having to let her go announced their decision. Another partner reassured us that without that one salary, pot plants and chilled water and a reduction in the collection of recycle bins (required only because SOME people print EVERYTHING they receive via email) . .the business was sound - well at least until June 2009 - and encouraged us to think of any other cost-cutting measures that might be appropriate. The third partner when asked about whether they understood the extra administrative burden of - you guessed it - Anti Terrorism and Anti Money Laundering Legislation - dodged the bullet.

Frankly we were all shell-shocked. PA's know everything but we didn't see this one coming. You could smell the vulnerability in the room!

I'm all for cost-cutting. It's a small business and yes we order too much stationary. I've never been a great fan of indoor plants and since I consider water something you wash and pee in, the loss of a cooler for me is not a bad thing (won't have to change that huge bottle because it's 'above' TMAPPITW felt it beneath her). I don't print every thing I receive via email and I'm happy to make a few sacrifices - My best friends own 30% of the business so that goes without saying. Much as I love my parking spot, if it has to go . . .it has to go.

My main gripe is that no real words of motivation were offered in terms of productivity despite the best efforts of the Elder Statesman. Our partners, have little idea of the amount of stupidly frustrating unnecessary paperwork that is required to implement their recommendations. But it definitely IS is the job of our Adviser team to be 'Rainmakers' one of those boardroomspeak words that means 'rake in clients'. We're a good business, the advice is highly qualified and sound. Our service offering is quality. You won't find our guys and girls recommending Olive Groves or buildings off the plan.

Of course it's hard in an economic downturn but I've been doing work for clients who are underpaying for over five years. And I've been listening to self funded retirees who have lost 30% of their capital. It's one thing to cut the budget, it's another to attempt to reach realistic targets, lock in clients for whom we are doing work and yet don't charge or don't charge enough. CLOSE THE FUCKING SALE! and if you have a happy client ASK FOR BLOODY REFERRALS.

Hopefully that will change in January as our new charging regime comes into play but today . . I felt like a Mushroom. I'm supposed to be the Practice Manager (read cleans fridge and crawls under desks, fixes printers and faxes, makes sure there are coffee pods, signage and enough letterhead to go around and agrees with Thommo on decor colour and Christmas Hampers). I'm also supposed to be Marketing but thanks to my client service role have little time to do more than write a newsletter or promotional email each quarter and make sure that our Client Welcome Pack materials are in stock. I'm supposed to be a PA but it's not a job to which I'm suited although my ability to fill in forms is becoming awesome. AND I'm supposed to be IT Liaison which means I'm adept at buying chocolate out of my own funds in order to jump the queue and reward those who are most helpful. The phrase "We'll all have to knuckle down" has little resonance for me because I'm already doing as much as I can. As are the other three Administrators.

I've been retrenched twice (must be a total biatch I hear you say). Well the first time, perhaps. I had a falling out with a peer who ended up being my boss and the rest is history but I was young and angry and newly widowed and all sorts of things then. The other was simply politics and our department was moved to Canberra so it was take voluntary redundancy, be relocated within NSW police or move to Canberra . . so I took the $25,000 and six months pay. I still lunch with my old colleagues and we're all bitter about the decision.

But now, I'm 52 years old. I'm basically an everyday administrator with delusions of grandeur albeit paid what I'm worth. I don't react well to fear and the thought of losing my job, even though I'm not crazy about it, is so demoralising, so dehumanising so fearful that the alternatives don't bear thinking about. I'm insecure at the best of times but right now . . I'm thinking what else can I do . . any suggestions? (And no, I'm definitely not attractive enough to sell my body although the thought has crossed my mind . . . I'm more cut out to be the cleaning lady - can't tell you how mad I am that I didn't become Super Nanny)
Smug biatch even looks like me. . .


Ces said...

The housekeepers here are paid a lot of money, the cheapest is $60.00/hour a little less than the automotive factory workers of the money-losing-union-operated-automaker-plants that we now have to bailout, a lot more than Registered Nurses and police officers who put their lives on the line everyday. Here in the south we are faring well, our state created over 250,000 non-governmental jobs while the northern states were losing theirs. Pretty soon we will be affected by the general decline of the economy and may be letting workers go too. The confidence is nowhere to be found, you would think it would rise with an incoming president-elect but instead is diving further south. With Democrats in control, it will be a very painful four years for us and the rest of the world. If anyone is looking for an interface programming job with experience in SQL the company offers up to six-figure income for the best ones.

Thriftcriminal said...

Yeah, but can she acceptable properly?

My colleague who sit's opposite me has only ever been let go from jobs, simply because that is the nature of the business we happen to be in (3 companies of a like nature gone AWOL in the last couple of months for example). I doubt you'll be for the chop anytime soon Mrs, if at all.

Susan said...

On one hand, it's nice of them to give you the assurance that they're good until 2009, but the suddenness and cruel timing of the Paraplanner's dismissal has to be worrying.

You could use my strategy for all such times: put your fingers in your ears to protect yourself from any bad news and sing LA LA LA LA LA LA continually until everything gets better. If it does...hurrah, it worked! If it doesn't, at least you were spared the worry beforehand.

I don't mean to make light of the situation, Baino--I wish I could send you a hug across all the oceans between us. And I hope something wonderful happens for you and your family for Christmas!

Grannymar said...


You have a job.
You are fit, well enough and allowed to work, and you are surrounded by loving family.

It could be a lot worse.

TCL said...

It's good to gripe a little Baino. Let it out and it'll do your heart some good. I almost gave my work the one finger salute last week when I gave notice but thought better of it.

The economy is in the tank and there's always talks of cutting back. But somehow instead of a sandwich and a soda the executives still manage to lunch out on their expense account.

But it's almost the holidays and you've your entire family back.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Ropi said...

Well I am glad we are not on the top at the moment because from the top you can go only down.

Baino said...

Ah Ces . . it'll hit everyone eventually there's a lot of fear out there in the marketplace and the banks are still in lockdown.It would be painful no matter who's in control frankly. We're very fortunate that the Howard government built a big budget surplus which the current government has almost spent. I can do cleaning! I'm very good at scrubbing loos! Six figres for an SQL programmer! Wow! Clearly I've missed my vocation.

Well frankly anything's Asseptible at the moment Thrifty. I'm not so much worried about losing my job as working in a fearful environment where cost cutting is the ONLY strategy. Well if they give me the Chop someone else will have to remember to change the backup tape!

Good strategy Suze, might have to adopt that one. Actually I've been there 8 years so I'm the most 'expensive' to let go so . .

Yep GM it could. But could also be a lot better with a little discepline. Might have to get out the big stick!

Thanks TCL my glass is still half full even if I am a whingeing bastart. So you've done the deed and packing your bags!Not long now before the adventure begins.

Well that's one way of looking at it Ropi! We're in a better position than most so that's something to be grateful for!

laughingwolf said...

damn, baino... hope you get to keep your current job...

Kath Lockett said...

(Speechless for a while)..... I am so sorry to read about your worry, Baino but I honestly believe that YOU, of all people, will not have to worry.

Some knucklehead above you will end up being asked to leave, thus saving your firm far more than a PA's salary, bottled water and chocolate biscuits for board meetings. At least that's what *should* happen if your Big Kahunas are fair, reasonable and vaguely intelligent.

I have a friend going through a similar cost-cutting exercise thinly disguised by external and overpaid consultants as a 'restructure'. Not only has the entire process been insultingly obvious, but all admin-related staff have to reapply for their jobs in the week leading up to Christmas. Not so for their academic 'leaders', most of whom possess the social skills of a runover possum and rely on said admin staff to write up and apply for their study grants.

Hang in there Baino - I am sending good vibes your way mate.

Baino said...

Wuffa I'm sure I'm safe. I'm a bit exe to 'let go'

Your friend's exercise sounds very much like the Nepi (Police) move to Canberra, Kath. It's pretty painful knowing your helping others to close down a job you loved. Nah, I'll be right. Nobody else is prepared to clean the fridge! If anything it will also lead to a re-definition of roles and I might actually get a more specific job description out of it! If I can piss off the PA stuff I'll be ecstatic!

Megan said...

I don't know where Ces is getting her housekeeping or her auto worker numbers???

But anyway...

I hope your job is safe Baino. I've been laid off three times in the last three years and it's hell. Right when I had my damn credit fixed, too! Oh well...

Keep your chin up, hon!

jay said...

These are scary times to be living in, to be sure. I don't know what you can do, except be the indispensable one who doesn't cost them too much.

And you know what? I don't think it's always the people who cost big oney with expense accounts, pay rises and stuff like that, who get the shove. I think the suits sit round a table and say 'We have to be seen to be doing something - who uses the most loo roll?' And they'll cut people whose loss means they can show daily reduction in running costs.

Of course, the big flashy outlay has to stop too, and of course it works differently in smaller companies. All I can really do is wish you luck, and hope you keep smiling. ;)

Quickroute said...

It's a worrying time for us all. Either we're worrying about losing our job or about being able to find another one. I'll have to elaborate in a future blog post

ashleigh said...

I've been in the position just this last week of "letting go" of 3 people. From our department thats about 9%. All driven by cost. Comes with being part f a big international company - the suffering gets spread even though we in Australia are doing fine.

Its been one of the most difficult and painful experiences i've been through. The decision was forced on me and my 2 co-managers, there was no choice, just "do it".

Something I don't ever want to go through again. But I expect I will.


Baino said...

Megan it does sound expensive. Years ago I had a cleaner who charged $75 for the lot! About 3 hours work.

Jay in our case the big suits are the owners so they're hardly going to retrench themselves. Frankly I'd have dismissed this girl. She was lucky to get a redundancy payout.

Quickie. I'm just too old to be arsed looking for another job. It's unlikely they'll retrench me just my own insecurities at play.

Yeh I know it's tough. My police retrenchment was very difficult for my boss who eventually took a transfer rather than cash out his super. Still, staff are the most expensive cost/investment for a business. I like to think we're a worthwhile investment. The girl who was retrenched, not so.