Is my company getting ready to screw its employees?
February 18, 2009 9:19 PM   Subscribe

The company I work for is behaving very strangely. Am I being paranoid, or should I start looking for a new job? (Posted anonymously for job security reasons.)

In October, I began working for [Unnamed Technology Marketing Firm], and while it hasn't been a dream job, it's been tolerable enough. After the start of this year, however, things have taken a turn for the strange and stressful.

For starters, the company's partners have changed their relationship with us drones during our weekly meetings. What had been traditionally positive and upbeat discussions and motivation, e.g. "Hey, we did great last week, but we're falling a bit behind overall. Let's step it up, and we'll give you gift cards or whatnot if you do," has changed to "Hey, we're doing great, but IF YOU DON'T STOP DICKING AROUND ONLINE AND EXCEED THE GOALS WE SET THEN YOU MIGHT ALL GET FIRED. THE ECONOMY IS SO BAD. LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE LOST THEIR JOBS LAST WEEK." Meanwhile, the company continues to hire new people, and blab to us about how well we're doing, and how we'll soon win a bid to be the exclusive marketing partner of [Major Information Technology Corporation], and that'll mean more growth.

Beyond that, there's been a paring back of the financial incentives for high production. The top performers have, traditionally, taken home bonuses of $10,000+, but they've been told that to earn the same bonuses as last year/year before last they need to essentially double their production. Not good.

Finally, I've noticed some internal management problems, in that the data we're given to work with is no longer being vetted. (Okay, I should come clean here. It's B2B telemarketing that we do.) This means that we'll get lists of companies to contact that are clearly unfit for the campaign we're working on. It's very unlikely, for example, that a small clinic in Fresno, CA with 170 employees has the number of network servers needed to be a company we can use. Yet, we have them to call and toss 'em, wasting our time. Apparently, the team that was in charge of this has been whittled from ten to one over the past two years, allegedly to pay those $10,000+ bonuses.

To top it off, the company was acquired in September by [European Technology Company], and the partners told us early on, that our company would get up to [multi-million dollar amount] based on our own revenue. I suspect that the partners have looked at the market, and are trying to inflate their revenue as best as possible so that they get their [multi-million dollar amount] and split it [number of partners]-ways 18 months from now, and bail.

This seems a bit paranoiac on the face of it, but it's not looking good. There's grumbling among the troops in the trenches. People I've spoken about this with see it my way, too.

MetaFilter, am I paranoid, or is this real? Should I quit now, or ride it out a bit longer? How do I explain that I'm leaving a job I haven't even been with for six months?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds to me like they're getting ready to replace a lot of you with new hires who'll work for less.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:27 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Assuming the work environment isn't intolerable, I'd stick with it until you have a new job in hand. That said, I would definitely be starting the job hunt right now. I had heard rumors at my previous job that they might be closing the site I worked at, and that squared with my gut instinct regarding how things were going at the time. Lo and behold, 4 months after I moved to a new job, the site I used to work at closed down.

Basically, trust your gut and get job hunting right now. If you find something that works and it looks like your current place is actually going to be okay, you can always reject the offer, with no loss except your time spent interviewing. But if your current place does go belly-up, you don't want to be the one scrambling for a new job while living off your savings.
posted by Allenthar at 9:29 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

None of those are good signs, but on the other hand, many of them are what you'd expect of a normal company under severe stress due to the economy (or at the very least running low on venture capital), and I expect you may find a lot of other people feel a bit the same way about where they work.

I wouldn't quit in this recession, at least not without another job lined up. The trouble is, wherever you jump may run into trouble too, given that we don't seem to have hit bottom yet.

As to your last, my experience with sales is that it's extremely common to job-hop throughout a career, and you'll often end up working for former coworkers or even underlings. It's just that kind of job.
posted by dhartung at 9:32 PM on February 18, 2009

Well, you can work on your resume and really spend some time polishing it (along with nice concise, beautifully written statements of purpose or letters of intent or whatever--even if you never use them, articulating how awesome you are, how much you have to offer, and what you want to accomplish in the medium- and long-term never hurts), all without earnestly looking to leave your current position. Start paying more attention to what might be out there for you when your time with this company comes to an end and don't worry so much about maybe having to explain why you'd leave this place after X months.

Enjoy exploring your options and preparing for a really well-executed job search now, while you have the luxury of a steady paycheck. Then if things get Really Bad you'll be ahead of the game.

(My husband's employer is pulling some stunts that aren't exactly the same as what your place is doing but bear the same whiff of scolding and ickiness, so I think I kinda get how you're feeling. I hope it gets better, where you work now, but I guess I'm saying to you what I've been saying to my man: try to use the nervous energy for good rather than fretting.)
posted by Neofelis at 9:32 PM on February 18, 2009

Why not shop your resume around and see if you get any nibbles. If you don't like your job there's no reason not to look around. But quitting is a little extreme. Besides if you get laid off you can get unemployment -- now featuring COBRA subsidies!
posted by delmoi at 9:44 PM on February 18, 2009

Sounds pretty much like a company that is going through tough times and trying to squeeze blood from a rock. Question is: where are you gonna run to? Red ink is flowing everywhere -- in this climate I'd suggest sticking it out.
posted by randomstriker at 9:45 PM on February 18, 2009

Unless it becomes intolerable, I would recommend looking for another job rather than just quitting flat out, but re: this

How do I explain that I'm leaving a job I haven't even been with for six months?

Like this: "You're acting weaselly and I don't like it here anymore. I quit." Seriously, you have zero obligation to explain anything to them. They run a telemarketing company- they have lost employees before, and you can be sure as hell that treating you fairly or ethically isn't near the top of their priority list.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:45 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

you can be sure as hell that treating you fairly or ethically isn't near the top of their priority list.

That's not even on their list.

Amount of loyalty they feel towards you: 0

Now, how much do you feel towards them?
posted by pjern at 9:59 PM on February 18, 2009

How do I explain that I'm leaving a job I haven't even been with for six months?

Like this.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:18 PM on February 18, 2009

MetaFilter, am I paranoid, or is this real? Should I quit now, or ride it out a bit longer?

Start looking for another job. It doesn't sound like the best place to work. You're an intelligent, hard-working achiever. I'm sure you can find a better job, even in this economy.

How do I explain that I'm leaving a job I haven't even been with for six months?

If you find another job before you quit your current job, this question just doesn't matter.

Anyway, no one really cares about gaps in your employment. If they do, you shouldn't work for them. Nobody but HR drones care about that stuff, anyway. The best jobs come from your network and are relationship based.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:29 PM on February 18, 2009

Sounds to me like the original owners are trying to get their earnings up to hit that payout bonus.
posted by PenDevil at 11:54 PM on February 18, 2009

You're asking two questions, really: what's up with the company? Should I jump before the doors are shut and we're all pushed?

I'd bet that the European Tech Co that bought your company has finally gotten round to trying to align its purchase (your company) with the parent company. They may have looked at the quarterly financials from Oct-Dec, and decided that your company needs to turn a profit no matter what. The new people they're bringing on could well be to drum up new business or to replace people at the company. If they're successful, your job will be secure. The Fresno thing doesn't bode well, because your company clearly wasn't suited for it and they took the contract anyway. That being said, if the company starts taking a downward turn, you may have years of this company hanging on before it finally sputters out. It just depends on things you can't know from where you sit on the org chart. (terms of purchase, level of financial support from parent company, how well those new hires will work out) I worked for a company that did this for roughly two and a half years after everyone at the company was convinced it was about to shut down.

Re: leave now or later... don't quit, but if you aren't happy at a job, you need to start looking for another one. Under six months isn't going to blip in this or any other economy. All you have to say is "company was bought out, massive culture change, learned that I like/hate this work and wanted a chance to grow". And if you're still at this company six months from now, still looking for that perfect job, you'll have been there a year (with more experience). Any chance you could ask them to send you on training courses while you're biding your time? It would just add to your CV and your value to them as an employee, if/when that axe starts to swing.
posted by Grrlscout at 11:56 PM on February 18, 2009

Never quit your job unless you have a job to jump to. That'd be like jumping out of a ship magically expecting another ship to sail below you and pick you up. With the economy in stormy seas, not many ships are sailing.
posted by almostwitty at 1:33 AM on February 19, 2009

Actions speak louder than words. The co you work for is not doing well. They are cutting every expense they can in an effort to boost the bottom line. Look for another job. I give your company 6 months.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:51 AM on February 19, 2009

You say that your performance bonuses have been cut back, and then elsewhere that your managers seem nastier and more demanding lately.

So I'll put those two things together and guess that their bonuses, which are probably related to the overall production levels, were a lot lower than they wanted, expected, or had come to rely on, and they're showing that by being a lot harder and more demanding on their staff.

They're angry because you're not making them as much money anymore. That might be the entire problem.
posted by rokusan at 5:13 AM on February 19, 2009

Management is freaking out about the economy and this just makes all the more transparent that they didn't have their shit together to begin with.

Make nice with a lower-level supervisor who isn't completely jaded and can give you a good reference.

Meet, don't exceed your goals. That's why they call them goals. It's not your fault that management sucks at setting goals.

Never expect a bonus payment, from any employer, at any time.

A lot of people have six-month employment relationships in this economy. It reflects poorly on the employer and not on you.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:24 AM on February 19, 2009

Look for other jobs starting now. And if the short time comes up in the interviews (which it probably won't), be frank that you were leaving because the company was bought out and the new management strategy wasn't what you had envisioned from the job. (Not badmouthing the new guys, just saying "I was excited about working for CorpoTech because of {specific about their management strategy or corporate vision}, but it seemed like things were changing after the buyout, so I started looking for other companies that offered {specific}. NewCo appeals to me because {specific about management strategy or corporate vision}."
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:40 PM on February 19, 2009

Maybe they went to a management seminar and learned new techniques. Keep ypur resume up to date. Keep a good relationship with your manager, so that you can get a reference if needed.
posted by theora55 at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2009

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