Saturday, October 29, 2011

About the job...

I realize that I have been off-focus for awhile and virtually abandoned our Fall 31 Day Challenge.  My apologies to those of you who committed to join me.  I hope that my poor performance in this challenge didn't derail any of you.

Given that this blog is largely my diary, I wanted to take a moment to write down some feelings of my recent work issues and how things feel so differently now.  I think that my stress at work has affected my workout commitment (and I also know that many of you would not allow work to be an excuse for reducing exercise...we're all different).

Here's the situation.  I am in the housing industry, selling building materials for a large publicly-traded company.   We are the high-end product and NOT the cheapest...a tough sell in this market.  Our sales began to drop in August of 2008.  Layoffs began happening in my company and among my customers.

image of Sword of Damocles
Imagine that EVERY MONTH, you knew of friends and co-workers that lost their jobs (or had their companies close down entirely) and they just went away.  This is what I have lived with since 2008.   I have learned the term "Sword of Damocles".

Every month, I could have shown a running list of people I knew that lost their jobs in my industry and this doesn't mean that they switched companies...they just were unemployed, or if lucky, found a job in some other business.  It feels a bit ghostly. 

Within my company, the layoffs would happen every 2-3 months or so.  And each time, my co-workers on the sales team knew two things:
  1. Our lack of sales were the cause of these layoffs (which left us with feelings of guilt and pressure).
  2. Any one of us could be next, which my boss frequently and gently reminded us.
So, my wife and I have dealt with reduced compensation (lowered sales commissions) and the feeling that EVERY WEEK could be my last with the company and that it would be very difficult to find a new job within my business.  A job in a different industry (where I would have no experience) would likely pay much lower.  Stressful for this this husband and father of five.

It all came to a head about two weeks ago, when it was announced that our local division/factory was going to be shutdown forever.  Dozens of people were given their 60 days notice (but some were let go sooner).  Of the 75 employees (including people in my department, my boss and HIS boss), only 14 of us "worker bees" will still be employed.  Everyone else has either been given a severance package or offered a position with the company in another state.

My new bosses from California have been meeting with us and our customers, as they strategize how we do this transition.  They have been great.

After a long day of meetings, I was dropping my boss at the airport and finally had to ask the question that I never dared to ask since 2008:

"Is my job safe now?", I asked.

He quickly responded "Yes...we really need you".  He explained that there will be no further layoffs and that they have confidence in me to do my job.

I feel like I can finally exhale and leave this worry behind me.  Clearly, I still have to do my job well and our business may struggle with this transition.  But I am no longer bracing myself for impending unemployment.

Time to get back to the Clydesdale Project and get some miles in.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, my friends.

Big Clyde


Vannevar said...

If I may: I think your response and focus is pretty normal.

Bruce said...

I have been in the software field for many years and have seen a lot of ups and downs. Even when you keep your job it is so hard to see others lose theirs, there is a lot of pressure when the "sword" is hanging over your head.

Glad you are able to take care of your family!

Kyle Gershman said...

Glad to hear that you have a moment of peace. And when my job gets me down I do try to humbly reflect on the many who'd nearly kill to have my job and sympathize, though I feel no guilt for keeping mine.

Clive Chapman said...

I can only sympathise, I've been there 5 times since I came out of the Army, 5 times of being put out of work and 5 times of having to seek new employment.

The industrial Midlands in the UK is now a shadow of it's glory days.

But everything changes eventually, it's how you manage the inevitable changes that matter.

Mary said...

Continued prayers for you and your family my friend.

Alan (Pounds Off Playoff) said...

Clyde, thanks for sharing this piece. I'm in a sector that, while hard hit, frankly hasn't experienced anything near what yours has. It's important to tell our stories.

I'm in a period of increased job stress as well, though in different circumstances, but it too has affected my workouts. I missed M-F and am trying to double up this weekend. Take care of yourself.

Lesley @ said...

What a tough situation. Glad you are secure, but understand the feelings about the others that have disappeared. So sorry. Hope you can start fresh. Many prayers for your family and those that lost their job.

Christina @ Just Running said...

WOW, Clyde. I'm sorry to hear life has been so stressful. We're glad to have you back around here!

Susietri said...

I can relate, working in the investment industry. Massively reduced compensation, some residual guilt that so many clients lost so much wealth (sadly we can relate personally), and an overwhelming feeling that there just isn't any meaning left in what I used to enjoy doing. It's been a tough few years. Glad your job is safe. We've got more restructuring coming with new aquisitions and I have co-workers who aren't yet sure.