I haven’t worked outside of my writing efforts since leaving IBM a few years ago.
The work with big blue had some pleasantries outside of the obvious of paychecks and health benefits. Some of it was challenging and rewarding, and helped validate my sense of my abilities. Some impressive technologies were being developed, and I had some very talented and capable co-workers.
I disliked huge chunks of it, though. The bureaucratic nature was stifling. Worse, though, not just with IBM, but with the other companies that employed me, were the exhortations that we were family or a team. My wife used to tell people, whenever your boss said you were part of a family, watch out.
The family comparison was always a huge reach, unless you were talking about dysfunctional families. I knew little about co-workers, and they knew little about me. That became truer as many of us worked remotely from our homes, doing telecommutes. As that happened, IBM also cut down on celebrations. No more buying birthday cakes, having team lunches, or Friday donuts, even if people worked on a campus. Few pauses were provided to celebrate and reflect on how well things were going. We no longer visited the offices for a face-to-face connection in order to reduce costs.
That was my experience. Others probably have different experiences, depending upon their division, campus, work center, manager, and middle and upper management. I had thirteen bosses at one point in that organization. I heard the top bosses, the vice-presidents and SVPs once a quarter during a one-hour “town hall” meeting where we were told the financial results. Note, they didn’t call it a family reunion or team meeting. I heard from mid-level execs more often, like whenever something went wrong. They were very heavy-handed and hands-on then. I didn’t hear from them when things were going right. It was silent as a prairie, then.
They’re right in that we were a family, because, like a family, there’s no end in sight, not unless you left. People often left without the rest of us being told. Typically, you dialed into a meeting, and gosh, folks were gone. How is that for family?
As far as being a team, if we were a team, it was a team with an infinite season. It was a team for which we played a sport for which there was no championship, no victory parades, no champions’ laurels. It was just, “Let’s go, team,” every few weeks on the phone, or every few days on an email.
So, yeah, I don’t miss either of those false labels, team and family. They were a business, out to improve revenues, cut costs, and improve profit margins. Remote and focused on the bottom line, I don’t miss that family or team.
I’m sure they don’t miss me, either.