Sunday, August 31, 2014

Career path, honesty and the phrase "It's just business..."

I am being offered a relocation package to stay with my current employer. I am one of the fortunate developers in my department. Most are not being offered anything. The atmosphere around here is a mix of fear, anger and a tinge of jealousy. Friends have a bitter edge to conversations. We have been told that this transition is the best for my company and have been asked to wear a company-first hat during this transition. We are being told that it isn't personal and that "it's just business." Oddly, the people being selected are the furthest removed from the local power-structure; the least influenced by the thoughts of the local leaders. We are the least guilty of association. So there is something very personal happening here.

This means uprooting my kids, who have never known anything other than what they have now. It means losing my support network of friends and family. Facebook doesn't equate here. Hard to hug a byte. I am being moved to a city that I don't know and into a culture that is completely foreign to me. It means an entirely different job role and working with a power structure that I have never had a great deal of success with. I am still one of the lucky ones.

I foresaw this in February when I was asked to update my corporate profile with what amounted to my resume. I asked questions early enough and when I caught the vagueness of answers that were both deceptive and dishonest, I went into action. I saw the writing on the wall. A beast as large as the Fortune 500 one I am leashed to now does not move in days, it moves in years. They knew quite some time ago what they were doing. My caution paid off. I was able to generate interest and got interviews. So now, I am able to go into this forewarned and forearmed. I walked into the relocation meeting with two job offers and one in the wings. All for the sake of leverage. All so I don't get caught out and have to start selling real estate just to provide for my family.

As an employer, do I really want to put my active producers in such a hostile and adversarial role? Is it safe? Do I want my subject matter experts having six months lead time to sabotage my company? When a company this size starts a move like this, it can't be hidden. There are signs; everything from the quality of the toilet paper to the closed door meetings with phrases like "excited about the new direction" coming out of every manager's mouth. Its obvious. Corporate lies usually are. What they are really saying is that it is time to move on.

Here is my approach. Keep my head down and be pleasant. Do the best work I can. That is my lie. Of course this upsets me, but if they think I am disgruntled and not a "team player" I don't stand a chance of keeping a job. So I chisel a mask and invest enough energy in it to get through, then I look for the exit. At best I keep a job, at worst I exit on my terms. This is the best I can do. The only way to avoid this game is to play a different game. Can-you-kill-me-before-I-escape is the cleanest name I can come up with.

Big changes are heading my way and they are not designed by me. But then again, who ever really designs their own massive life-changes?