If you are employed, I am writing from your future…

What is facing you today

No matter where you are in the chain of command, you are moving inexorably toward the day you will be removed from your company’s payroll. If you are competent and under the age of forty, you can hope that another company will scoop you up before you have time to file for unemployment.

If you are over 50, you had better hope that your corporate culture is not going through meltdown or the frantic convulsions that precede closing the doors. If so, you have a very small chance of being rehired at your current salary.

You may be one of the lucky ones who work for a company that has a strong and viable culture. If so, do everything you can to support your management team.

In case you think this is a scenario out of a reject Twilight Zone script, think again. Talk to your friends in Sun Microsystems who have been suffering through at least four years of declining corporate morale. I wrote about Sun in my book, Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day, but I didn’t imagine that Sun’s corporate culture would continue to decay to the point where it is now.

I recently received an email from a veteran Sun employee who says, "We are completely devalued now as employees and are being shuffled around with no regard given to our abilities or contributions….This place is destroying my soul."

I am sure that he is not alone in his misery and I am sure that Sun is not alone in its state of internal confusion. If you work for Sun Microsystems, however, you know the culture beyond repair, but you have the possibility that Google may decide to buy Sun and give a few of you a new chance. Not every company is a prospect for a buyout.

What you can do

You have at least two choices in the matter. You can do nothing and hope that the company will continue to employ you until your Social Security kicks in or you can make the hardest decision you have ever made and leave of your own accord to find work elsewhere.

I received another email today, this one from a Technical Writer with 20 years experience who has watched the dissolution of the field of technical writing. She is making a transition into content management with the hopes she can keep afloat financially. She is having a hard time making ends meet right now, but she is focused on building direct experience day by day, so I am confident she will find her way through this period of difficulty. She has also read my book, so I have a vested interest in seeing that she achieves her goals.

Too many corporations are like the Titanic, they are coming apart at the seams, but are steaming full speed ahead into a marketplace that is changing faster than they can respond to it.  They appear invincible and unsinkable from outside, but are riddled with decay and are managed by bozos who have cut themselves off from the people who operate the company.

The Titanic is an apt example of a doomed venture, because the ship was built of brittle, high sulfur steel and was captained by a calm dunderhead with a clueless bunch of directors to advise him.

If you feel that your company is listing to port or going down at the stern, pick up the phone and start networking immediately. If your company is strong and healthy, you have no need of this advice…today.

What will eventually happen

If you are like many of the people I meet every day, you will find a way to take control of your destiny and will find a place to live and work that allows you to support yourself and your family. It probably won’t be easy at first, but you will find more satisfaction than you might ever expect.

Once you take charge of your life and stop expecting someone else to look after you or tell you what to do and when, you may just find that you are enjoying life again and are looking forward to the future instead of dreading it.

You will have successfully made the transition to post-corporate life. You will be joining one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. The rules are yet to be written, but the big difference is that you get to call the shots, not someone else. Make a little, make a lot, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, I think you will be more satisfied with life than you are now.

There are a lot of us working out our destinies in the corporate after-life. Come on in. There is plenty of room. You may enjoy it more than you think, especially if you prepare for it first.

Just remember, getting laid off is not the end. It can be the beginning of an unparallelled adventure.

Any of my readers care to corroborate or refute that statement?

This entry was posted in post-corporate, The Changing Workplace. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to If you are employed, I am writing from your future…

  1. Ric says:

    .. and it’s the not too-distant future! But I’m not sure I’m going to wait to be removed – I think I’ve started the process of removing myself. It’s not even been a conscious thing, but more of an inevitable unfolding of events – somewhere in the recent past I turned a corner/had an epiphany (perhaps not that dramatic!)/finally a few pieces fell into place – whatever the catalyst I don’t think there’s much doubt that I will be self-employed soon. There are a couple of possibilities that may delay it … but the avalanche has already started.

  2. GBGames says:

    I’m almost 25 years old and have only worked in part-time capacities. I am currently an intern, meaning that while I get paid for the 40 hours I work, I don’t get benefits. What I feel is worst, however, is that none of the jobs had anything to do with software development, which is what I studied while at college and want to do.

    Since I have made plans to start my own company anyway, I decided that I just needed to practice on my own. No one else was going to train me. Some weeks I get only 15 minutes of real work completed, but I know that some progress is infinitely better than no progress. Rather than come home to watch television or take a nap, I sit at my computer and put myself to work. When I can get in a couple of hours a night, it’s a great feeling, even if I am exhausted by the end of the week.

    The end goal: I want to be able to depend on myself within five years. I’m starting my shareware game business this year so I can build it up slowly.

    Of course, it makes my current situation a bit difficult. Applying for development positions is difficult since no one wants to hire entry-level developers it seems, and if they do want to hire me, I worry that the fact I have my own career goals separate from the company will scare them away.

    What I noticed, however, is that I have vastly improved my skill level. Whether it is for 15 minutes or 20 hours, I’ve dedicated at least some time each week towards improving myself. Before I knew it, it was six months later. I could have spent that time relaxing after work, and sometimes I did, but I invested that time into myself. It hasn’t resulted in a job yet, but the skills have helped me with my own projects considerably.

    A couple of years ago I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a job in software development. Today I wonder if I’ll be able to find a job that will still allow me to run my business at the same time. In a year or so, I will probably wonder if I need a job in the first place. B-)

    Thanks for writing about my possible future. I’m taking steps to make sure that if I leave a company it will be of my own accord.

  3. so says:

    Another suggestion, if your corporation offers a voluntary separation package during a reduction in force, you might want to consider the alternatives. In addition to stopping pension plans, corporations can also reduce severance packages whenever they choose. Making your own choice to leave might be better financially than waiting to be RIF’ed.

  4. Chris Anderson says:

    This is exactly the way that I view the current state of US corporate life. I have also become very sensitive to the whole outsourcing craze that is rattling the US middle class’s cages. This is a horrible, horrible situation where your training and expertise simply don’t matter. Many jobs that were once well within reach for IT professionals (and in some cases, engineers) are now being outsourced daily. Management would rather outsource your job and several others to meet deadlines and beat the project budgets. Nevermind the fact that the cost benefit may not be as wonderful as they might think. I know several people who left various companies because of the outsourcing threat; and it did cost management to recoup the mainland US talent.

    I, too, have the after-corporate mindset. My goal is to become a sovreign professional individual who can name his own game and make a decent living at the same time. When I reach 50 I want to be in control of my family’s security and destiny, and I want to extend a hand to struggling young professionals and general laborers. In my opinion, once can run a business that is full of soul and passion; one that is a safe haven for the now seeminlgy forgetten working middle class in America.

  5. Chris Anderson says:

    Oh, yes, and I did also want to say that I would gladly try to provide work for the 50+ crowd as well!

  6. larry says:

    This story relates to what you are talking about

    One Third of People Feel Lonely, Study Finds

  7. Margherite says:

    I’m 63, and I can’t afford to retire. So the word has been eliminated, as much as possible, from my thoughts and speech. What your book portrays is true, but nothing new. Fortunately, you’ve been sheltered by your circumstances more than the folks I’ve met on my travels.

    For the past 23 years I’ve been out of work, on a day-by-day basis, almost as long as I’ve been employed. That’s where the money went .. feast or famine, with the famine leading to homelessness a couple of times. I have a Master’s degree from a top engineering school, but a couple of gray hairs have made that all but useless paper. Living in the woods was actually OK, but trying to restart an employable lifestyle (yes, I’m employed again, albeit at a lower salary than last time) has been excruciatingly painful.

    As for trying to warn folks .. it seldom works. Most of them, including my family, need to believe that I have mental problems. I guess that’s the only way they can keep lying to themselves about the state of the U.S. economy and the politicians who have run it into the ground to keep their corporate subsidies coming.

    Sad thing, though, is that in my volunteer work I keep encountering their children in jails and drug rehabs.
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