Why I Quit My Job
i) The Money
I made decent money to be sure and for that I am grateful. But in Corporate America, a step back can be seen as a red flag to let you know that you are about to hit your head on a ceiling. As with all people in the department, I was notified of the "year end numbers" by phone. My bosses personal issues precluded him/her from coming to work regularly and so I got a phone call, was tersely commanded to shut my office door, and then notified that my bonus would be less by one third of what it was the previous year and that my raise would be .25% less than the inflationary increase of my rent stabilized apartment.
The phrase "we can discuss your salary more later this year" was taken in the spirit it was meant, namely as an empty promise to me and a way for my boss to stave off any embarrassment and postpone any response. The bonus was acknowledged to be less than what I received the previous year, but I was assured that it was the "top amount of all of the assistants." So I guess the manager title I had been assigned earlier in the year was in name only.
Funny that, because while my work load doubled and my yearly bonus fell I had been working smarter to help the team move ahead. Par for the course in these hard economic times I am sure. But hard to digest when you have seen the company's numbers and knew that there were people who received larger increases, promotions and bonuses because they were friends with/child of/or otherwise related to the executive team.
Bad Bonuses triggered a work slow down for many and the halls became noisy with sounds of disgruntled complaint. The mantra for many was, "I am just not going to work as hard." Tasks became more difficult to accomplish as staffers responsiveness slowed or stopped all together. It was demotivating to say the least. My work, which I enjoyed, was deadline oriented and I took pride in doing a good job and meeting my deadlines. That became more difficult when meeting after meeting was called where the only discussion was "how much work sucked." I kept plugging along, but noticed that in addition to my own responsibilities, I was now being asked to take on the extra work generated by those who decided they weren't getting paid enough to work so hard. I guess I should have talked to my boss. Oh right, he/she wasn't there ...
ii) The Lack of Leadership.
My boss’s personal problems (his/her delinquent yet pampered child) had been going on for over a year. There was general celebration this past summer when, having been AWOL since the previous December, by boss returned to work more often and seemed to be back in the zone. That lasted a few months and then there was another disappearing act. You can imagine the type of issues absentee leadership led to but I will spell them out anyway.
Absent of leadership the department suffered through:
1) Incredibly High Turnover.
2) No clear directive other than "put out this fire."
3) Lack of oversight led to shoddy work products resulting in more "fire" scenarios.
4) In order to stave off criticism, my boss created scapegoats whom he/she professionally humiliated and yet allowed to remain employed. No surprise then that the scapegoats stopped working and their work product was crap thus creating more "fires."
5) And then there were the actions which were either unethical, illegal or both. These actions were promoted and protected. When there was finally accountability, absent boss cried ignorance which led to more fires, more scapegoats and more turn over.
6) In order to maintain the illusion of leadership, the boss would occasionally attend weekly meetings where he/she excoriated the team for tardiness (a sin committed by only one person who was usually not in attendance because they were late) and decried the practice of attending staff lunches (which had been set up by upper management who were too high level to be involved in the staff meetings) and constantly reminded us that we needed to pull our socks up and work harder or else we would be replaced.
iii) The Last Straw
I was going to stick it out until August and in the meantime apply to grad schools and save some cash. Even with the usual overtime at work and factoring in an unusually busy tax season because of the high turnover and extra work load, I figured I would have time to achieve my goals. And then we discovered that my boss had overseen a project several years earlier (pre my tenure) which had been done wrong or not at all resulting in the filing of incorrect (or no) information for almost all of our companies in all of the jurisdictions where we conducted business. I had the dubious honor to unwind this ungodly mess and to assess our best and worst case scenario liabilities. At best, we were facing over 5,000 filings to remedy the situation and at worst we were looking at 55,000 filings and possible further actions required. Another fire, another set of fingers pointing to other people's failures in order to deflect responsibility and another scapegoat required.
I didn't want to be the fall girl and I could see the future.
So I went to my boss when she returned to work (she had been absent the first half of the first week of the new year and oh yeah - she skipped the office party) and presented my concerns. I was told that the attorney in charge was not in charge, rather, had "volunteered to help out" and that I needed to stop blaming others and get to work on managing the "Legacy Issue" that was not her fault, not my fault but (insert fingerpointing here.) It just wasn't true. I had gathered what I could of the documentation and it was my bosses signature on all of the original incorrect filings. I cried UNCLE and handed in my notice.
I was walked out that day and my subsequent personal emails of goodbye and thanks to my colleagues were blocked by the company server "sender denied". However, some got through and in return I receive many emails containing praise for the work I had done, best wishes for my future endeavors and in at least one instance, the expressed opinion that I had done the right thing because that person (an outside vendor) "could see no future for our department."
Just to be clear, my emails cited the reason for leaving as a desire to return to school and expressed nothing but gratitude for my experiences with the Company and my sincere best wishes for their (collective) future success. I heard through the grapevine that the word had been put out that I was fired. My last official day is tomorrow.
I still think my reasons were sound and will have to wait for the future to see if my gut sense that I jumped from a sinking ship was correct. For the sake of my colleagues, I hope I am wrong. But it doesn't really matter. I made a decision and am ready to move on.
I am taking this month to study for the GRE and reassess what I want from my next job. I have discovered a few things: 1) In my next position I want to work under a leader who is present and accountable and I want to be more present and accountable 2) I have a strong dislike of nepotism and 3) If I practice, I can suck less at math.
The best thing to come out of all this is that I get to tend to my marriage and visit my family. While I worked overtime to put out other peoples fires and prove to myself that I could play with the big boys, my little nieces and nephews have been growing up. One learned to walk, others moved into a new house and a new school. My baby sister just got her first apartment and starts school next week. My brothers are working, have new jobs, new places to live and are going back to school. My husband's passion for his creative work is an inspiration and I want to be available to provide more cheerleading and support. I am grateful for the time to relax, regroup and revisit what is important. I learned a great deal but am glad it is over and am excited to see what comes next.