Can you indulge me in a bit of recollection (it will self-explanatory)?
I was 1 of 24 or so RGMs (Regional Group Manager to you!) in a 1500-employee financial/insurance services firm. RGM sounds really important, doesn’t it? It was really a fancy name for medical-insurance-sales-rep-who-also-has-to-do-all-of-her-own-underwriting. By the time I was promoted from lowly backroom underwriter to RGM (about 2002), I had imbibed too much of the Kool-Aid. I thought it was great! Now, I’m going to get respect, more responsibility and more money! Isn’t that what I had been working toward in my career?! (“Be careful what you wish for!”)
Does anyone remember this commercial? When I was working FT (defined as 60 hrs/wk) at my corporate job, this ad went viral among the worker bees (I LOVED this whole series of ads):
Ahhh, this ad brings back so many flashbacks (I mean, memories)! During the last three months of every year, the company would be anxious about the new cases sold for January (January sales represented roughly 30-40% of our annual sales), but every Fall they would increase our rate tables (what the hell??). It was the craziest damn thing. I’m pretty sure those on Mt. Olympus knew that Fall was important so it was very baffling. But you could hear the implied whisperings “What was the problem? You should be able to convince your producers to sell these rates to the client!” “If your producers really liked you, these higher rates would not be a problem!”
While I was there (8 yrs), we either acquired a company or were acquired 5 times which means I had 6 different business cards. The kicker was that the transition to the new combined company would happen in the FALL just about every time (I wish I was kidding)! The transition also included the RIF (reduction in force) and during each RIF, it seemed to me that they slowly chipped away at the pool of talented employees (which was demoralizing). We had to learn a new system, a new paper-trail process, adjust to employees lost, adjust to the new employees, etc. AND sell our asses off! No problem!
I would refer to my occupation as the “Job with the Golden Handcuffs”. I couldn’t argue too much about my compensation (which is unusual, I know), but was it worth all of the late nights, time away from home, etc.? So during each RIF, I would think that my nine lives had finally run out and would almost be grateful for the release from bondage only to find out that I still had my job. Was I supposed to happy or sad? Hmmmm. It was a twisted, soul-sucking rollercoaster ride.
What is shocking (now that I have actually thought about it) is that it took me about 8 months to get the courage to break free from the golden handcuffs. Why did I feel that I had no way out?! That will require some serious psychoanalysis, I’m afraid. Bring it on, Freud!
Back to the original question – from time to time, a couple of my friends who are still in the underwriting business will mention job openings in their respective places of employment. When I hear word of these openings, I am instantly intrigued and my corporate juices begin flowing. “It will be different this time.” “You won’t end up working 20 extra hours a week.” “This place will not be as crazy as the last.”
Then my hubby and/or my BFFs quickly slap my face as they are shouting, “Snap Out of It!”
The much-needed slap releases the flood images of all of the asinine, ridiculous, back-biting, worthless crap that went on (for a sample of similar corporate craziness, read the Living Dilbert blog ). I used to think that it was just our company. But after talking with others that have worked or are still working in similar corporate situations, I have finally come to the realization that it’s the same sh!t, different company. It’s a miracle anything productive happens in the Corporate World.
I won’t go back, I won’t go back!