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Posts for February 27, 2003

Some ranting nutter with a blog talking about the modern business world

See, I like my job. I know this is considered unusual by a large percentage of the population *. But on the whole I do. I’ve had my ups and downs, of course, but I wouldn’t have stayed there for fifteen years, through name changes and takeovers, reshuffles and redundancies, if it wasn’t a reasonable place to work; and I wouldn’t have gone into that area, and stayed in it — not to mention resisted all inducements to move into management — if I didn’t like the work.

I’m a programmer, which, in my humble opinion and personal mythology, is the third best job in the world (and I do the top two in my spare time anyway: see my bio). So when, some fifeen years ago, the precursor of the company that I now work for offered me a trainee programmer job, I, having been on the dole for a year since graduating, was delighted. Not only was I starting a programming job, but also I was moving to London, which, despite burning with boredom, had been calling to my faraway town for a long time.

My personal graph of contendedness and the ups and downs of the job market combined to ensure that I stayed there ever since. I have occasionally looked around for another job, but never quite got round to moving. At the time when I was furthest down that line, for example, I was offered a move to a more interesting role, so I stayed.

Towards the end of last year, senior management announced the latest round of redundancies (I wrote a blog piece about it, which, for various reasons, I never posted). That safely behind them, they feel they have to justify their existence by doing the latest spot of restructuring.

The division I work in is being split into three independent (allegedly autonomous) operating companies. This comes some eighteen months after all the prior companies (the group grew by acquisition) were renamed and rebranded under the group name and logo.

Both the rebranding and now the split can be seen as good decisions in business terms, and there are some aspects of the latest split that seem positive from where I’m sitting. But here’s the rub. Each of the new companies is to have its own HR and Finance departments.

Now, I’m sure if you asked the board they would tell you that they had no plans to sell off any of the companies; and they probably wouldn’t even be lying; but could it be any plainer that they’re positioning things such that they easily can sell off the various bits if they’re seen to be performing poorly?

Furthermore, the company in which I am to find myself has announced the following facts (among others):

  • it’s going to become a nicer place to work
  • they’re going to tighten up on the dress code
  • they’re going to tighten up on timekeeping (which had, over years, become informally flexible) and definitely not introduce flexitime

I invite the reader to join me in musing about the incompatibilities in the above statements.

Oh yes: and they’re going to improve communications; but they announced all the above without the vaguest hint of consultation with the staff. No, wait, this is management-speak: “communication” means “We will communicate at you”.

And on that note, all this is being badged the “Step-Change Program”. Now I don’t know about you, but to me a step-change sounds like quite a small thing; like a stepper-motor in electronics, maybe, or just the first steps of a child. Apparently not to management. In management-speak, our new boss (same as the boss before the current one, as it happens) tells us, “step” means “huge”.

Do what you want with the company, guys: but give us our language back.

* Or is it? Perhaps we should have a poll.