Rising the corporate ladder, a dead dream?

by Grumpy on August 28, 2013

Hello all, well as you may have guessed today I would like to impart on you my thoughts about corporate America as I see it. Now, why would you listen to me, who am I to give advice? Well, without getting into specifics I’ve worked as an engineer for the last 20+ years. I’ve worked for four fortune ten companies during that time & have had sixteen different managers. Yeah you heard right sixteen which averages about 1.25 years per manger. Why is this important? Well stick with me here we will get into that in a bit. So what, right… just another schmo working for the man. Well, that may be but remember this is my corner and tough patootie, this bird wants to talk!

So where to start… Well it’s my belief thy you can’t truly appreciate the present unless you have an understanding of the past. Thus let’s go back in time a bit, back even before my time when our fathers were the major workforce. So back then what did it mean to work for a major corporation and rise up the ranks? Generally speaking folks used to worked for company X until retirement, got a full pension & was a Director or VP with a hefty salary at the end of their career. It used to be that someone could start with a company and prove their worth though their deeds & effort, then as they became more accomplished and experienced they would get promoted and get bumps in their salaries as well as more responsibility, etc. Well, as I’m sure you all are fully aware that is the classic tale of rising up the corporate ladder. Now for all the hype that we were fed about working to your full potential and Companies expecting 110% etc. I’m here to tell you that I’ve never ever not once seen someone get ahead simply by working hard and giving a Co. their all.

Now you may be thinking that I’m just a slacker and that I don’t know how to commit or how to apply myself, but before you cast me off hear me out. I have a few years of experience under my belt and believe that my story is more similar to most rather then that of a disgruntled worker.

To start with, right about the time I got out if college there were a few things that started happening which I didn’t realize the significance of until years later (sigh that history thing again). Anyway, the first thing I noticed is that whole sections of Companies were being shut down and shipped abroad, then shortly after workers from abroad were being brought over to do the same jobs. In addition this surge in new talent started creating opportunities for placement companies that were & are simply looking to fill a position without regard for the person they put there. So why is this important, well aside from the instability that is caused it’s important because it changed the culture of what companies expected and provided to their employees. Now, easier then ever before companies could simply reach onto the shelf and get a new “cog” err I mean employee for that job. (Freudian slip intended 😉 ) So, hey now that we have all this talent to choose from why would they continue to promote and/or keep an employee for 40 years? Oh and did I mention that Bob over their that had been with the Co for 35 years and is making 3x could be replaced by two new hires who are hungry for the opportunity to prove themselves and willing to work 70 hour weeks? Sayonara Bob…

What next, the rising cost of Health Insurance. In the last twenty years that I’ve been working not once has an employer ever said. “Hey! This year the insurance companies cut us a break & we can lower your monthly premium.” That said at 20 and fresh out of school you don’t think much about health care except for the occasional cold meds and a trip to see that hot nurse (err I mean get a physical :-p ) but after getting married and having a few kids you start to worry not only because of the increase in premiums year after year but also because this means you employer is also paying more for keeping you around Vs hiring some new 20 year olds. Here again Co X can get a bright new shiny cog and save some money. Starting to see a trend here???

Well, now lets throw one more variable into the mix. That would be us, that’s right you and me, the good old backbone of the country. We want a piece of the American dream just as much as the next guy so what do we do to get ahead? Well, do you remember back up top when I said I’ve had 16 managers in 20 years, why do you think that is the case? One word “Mobile” and I’m not talking about that shiny new gadget your using to read this blog with. I mean mobile as in transient, the workforce has become more mobile then ever before both the employees as well as managers are job hoping like crazy simply to be able to make ends meet! In one of my employers who was notorious for switching out managers ( 8 in 7 yrs) I had a end of year review where I was up in line for my first promotion ever, I had busted my butt and really thought I would get the gig. Well wouldn’t you know it 4 months later that manager left then the next guy & the next review told me ” you know I just got here, so give me a chance to get to know you and what you can do!” What a joke, oh and that manager was also gone within a year. So what did I do? I jumped ship and got a pay raise by going to the next Company and wouldn’t you know it the cycle just continued…

So what about doing something unforgettable, something BIG? Well, let me tell you about this project where my manager saw this shiny new product and wanted to do the same thing in house. I saw it and said, yeah I can do it. It wasn’t part of my normal day to day but I figured the project would be fun and it could help me get ahead. So I poured myself into this thing and I even worked on it while my wife was in labor for crying out loud. I finished the project and my manager loved it, he used it as a value add for customers to buy our services and so the bottom line is that my work brought significant revenue to the Co. Awesome job right?, you did it you made a name for yourself. Well, review time came around and I got a bonus for the work I did but that was it, nothing more. I felt jaded & used and wasn’t going to sit for it so I called my manager for a follow up meeting and can you guess what happened ? In less the six months I had a shiny new manager. (Ahem, funny how a new cog seems to be the solution to everything)

Well what about salary increases? Ha-ha-ha-ha your kidding right? No, in all seriousness I consider myself lucky in that I usually get something BUT and it’s a big BUT that something is usually just less then the cost if inflation. That plus rising costs for gas, and you name it makes it more the reason to job hop every 4-5 years.

Now all that said, anyone have any suggestions? Well I will part with one golden piece of advise. “Start something!” What, I can’t tell you as everyone’s interest is different but what I can tell you is that I got tired of job hopping and trying to give 110% and waiting for someone to recognize my efforts. My wife & I started our own business. Now this isn’t the main source of income yet but the gratification and control is well worth the extra time. Oh and it doesn’t take much for a side business to well exceed the few percentage points of a bonus/increase if you are getting one. The moral then? “Forget about climbing the corporate ladder, get something to pay the bills and give them enough of your time to keep them satisfied (notice I didn’t say happy) then take the remainder of your time and pour your heart & soul into YOUR project!”

Thought’s, ideas, comments? Please share let’s get the CrankyCog Rollin!

Written by Grumpy@crankycog.com

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marlene August 28, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I think your assessment of today’s job market/situation is right on target. At some point in the last 25 years or so most big companies pawned off the process of finding employees to recruiting firms. They stopped giving people good raises and particularly in the tech field a culture of “what have you done for me lately?” ensued. Rewarding employees for staying long term was reversed into “if you are at a place longer than 4 or 5 years you are not a commodity and there must be something wrong with you”. This change permeated into job searches too – if you even got an interview you were thought of as a loser because you didn’t move around enough. Additionally, the percent of your income as a raise dropped to ridiculous levels like 2% and employees realized that the only way to make more money was to change jobs. What you walked into a company making was pretty much what you would leave with as well.

Back in the day – company loyalty and to at least some extent loyalty to employees was the culture. That day is long gone.


www.google.com July 2, 2014 at 9:41 am

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