Soupy Sales meets Fight Club
May 10, 2010 7:39 AM   Subscribe

We are all so demoralized that if we don't get new jobs soon we're going to bring cream pies to work and run amuck throwing them at people as part of a massive collective nervous breakdown.

I'm part of a team of business analysts in what could be loosely described as a finance company, although that's not precisely what we do. The learning curve for our job is extremely long. We have to be prepared to come in on our weekends twice a month if required, and we work all holidays and weekends in a shift setup. Because of this scheduling process, poor pay and extraordinary levels of stress, we have obviously have trouble attracting people. At one point the job was an excellent launch pad to other opportunities in my global company but that has changed dramatically in recent years.

In the last six years no one from my team has been promoted or gotten an internal transfer, although the rest of our department has received multiple promotions in the same span. We have all repeatedly applied for internal jobs for which we are very well qualified and none of us have gotten anywhere. The fact that all twenty of us are unable to transfer tends in my mind to eliminate poor interviewing or skills as a factor in our stagnation. As far as leaving to go somewhere else, it's such a specialized job it's hard to convince people in other companies that the skills transfer even if specialized job knowledge does not. But believe me, we are trying.

Management has taken to writing the equivalent of signing statements on our yearly appraisals; statements that do not affect our raises but look extremely bad when the appraisal is provided to prospective internal bosses. They also make a point of making us all sound bad when speaking to anyone outside of our team. I'd like to forestall the immediate retort that we are probably just bad employees by saying that this is not true, even by their own admission. We consistently produce outstanding results which are acknowledged throughout the organization... as our bosses' achievements. This makes their reluctance to let any of us go understandable, if still terrible.

Morale is absolutely through the floorboards.

All of this is to ask this. Are there actually bosses somewhere who care about their employees and their morale, who do not verbally abuse their employees and then say bluntly that we should be happy we're still employed? Are there any ways to tell a prospective internal boss that we prefer our current boss not be contacted, or is there no option, as I suspect, but to continue to look elsewhere?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Your firm sounds large enough to have a dedicated HR department. Is there anyone there you could talk to about the evaluation process? If the "signing statement" practice is not company wide, perhaps HR could talk to your superiors about their improper behavior.
posted by Sara Anne at 7:50 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a two-step process. First, you talk to your bosses' boss. Someone somewhere in your corporate hierarchy is capable of bringing the hammer down on the people who are taking all the credit for your work and making sure you stay right where you are. That is not how a good company operates, because it produces employees like you, who are clearly beat down and unwilling to go the extra mile. But stick to verifiable facts, and start and end with "My department is awesome for reasons X, Y and Z; do you honestly think that I and my co-workers have nothing to do with that? That our bosses are doing all this despite us?"

Failing that, unionize. Okay, not technically, but collective bargaining is what you're looking for here. Get together with the other twenty members of your team and see whether you can all agree that if things don't get better -- with a quantifiable and immediately performable list of demands -- you will, as a group, leave. But be ready to have your bluff called. Do you and the other people on your team think you're employable elsewhere? Do you have emergency funds set aside so you can spend a few months with zero income?

Your bosses think you don't have the guts to do either of these things. So far, they've been right.
posted by Etrigan at 7:54 AM on May 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

It would be complicated but if your team is so specialized, what about starting your own business?
posted by MsKim at 8:13 AM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

As far as leaving to go somewhere else, it's such a specialized job it's hard to convince people in other companies that the skills transfer even if specialized job knowledge does not. But believe me, we are trying.

This is the beat-down part of your brain talking. You need to get a smart friend, or some kind of career counselor type, to help you genericize your experience and see where it applies elsewhere.
posted by micawber at 9:18 AM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

If the job is that bad, with such cruddy pay - then what's the point of staying any longer to attempt to fight through channels to get to the next department? It sounds as if there is very little oversight of your boss - this doesn't speak well of the organization as a whole - If it were me, I'd bail and start somewhere else.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:33 AM on May 10, 2010

This is how new companies get started. I'm with MsKim -- if you all get along well and have the skills to do so, leaving en masse and starting your own firm would

a. make a hell of a statement
b. improve morale immediately
c. probably end up making more money in the end.
posted by at 10:53 AM on May 10, 2010

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