Parting shot: when to tell your employer what you really think?

secret engineerDisillusioned with his (or her) employer’s appetite for logical change, our anonymous blogger leaves. But should he (or she) have had one more crack at telling them where they were going?

If there is such a thing as a regular reader of these pieces then they will know that I’ve not been a happy bunny for a while.

It’s a shame as Sleepy Hollow Electronics could have been my perfect workplace for any number of reasons.  However, a dogged determination, by those few who inhabited the rarefied atmosphere above me, not to improve or even adopt the most basic current standard practices led to frustration; which in turn led to my leaving.

Context is all as someone, possibly me, once said so I feel I must reiterate that some suggested improvements to the way the company works were basic late 19th century stuff rather the latest fad or, indeed, cutting edge in any way whatsoever.

One or two members of the senior team felt as strongly about this as I and thought that on my day of departure I should have rather forceful words with the MD about it all – given that there could be no direct punitive backlash.

I did seriously consider it but in the end decided against. The main problem was, given my experience of those involved, I was certain it would make no positive difference. In fact, as my near constant efforts to change things had been steadfastly rebuffed for 3 or 4 years, I could see such a manoeuvre making the opponents to change even more entrenched in their views. Therefore it would be counterproductive for those I left behind to fight the good fight.

Of course, the other aspect that crossed my mind is how it may have affected my references for a new position. Although I have been assured that it is now illegal to give a poor reference, inferences can be drawn from a fairly non-committal one.  In addition, I have worked hard and diligently so would rather like that to be reflected in any comments made about me. It’s difficult to see how deliberate torpedoing of future prospects can actually be avoided and, although I would not automatically expect a clash of industrial ideology to promote sufficient resentment as to initiate an the intentional scuppering of my future, I was not so certain as to want to risk it.

I still wonder if I should have had that inevitably explosive conversation – if only for my own peace of mind

Finally, I loathe and detest conflict, sincerely believing that it hampers work rather than aiding it. I know we’re all different and some seem to thrive in the pseudo-soap opera environment of shouting and wild gesticulation but you risk creating an entrenched set of positions (hardly the optimum way to arrive at the best solution for a given problem) and / or get called something rude behind your back.

I will admit to having lost my rag very occasionally in the past and even deliberately employed the tactic of merely seeming to have lost it once or twice. However, I had to be very sure in my own mind that this was the best way of resolving the situation. In relation to the subject in hand, it was difficult to reconcile the hard truths of what needed to be said with hope of a civilised conversation.

Although I am willing to admit to possibly displaying a lack of moral fibre with all this it does raise some pertinent points. If you cannot progress clearly needed changes (I cannot give details for obvious reasons but when I joined there was one particularly inefficient working practice that I hadn’t seen since the mid 80’s and, after a number of years, I only managed to get it partially replaced by modern methods) – should you even worry about it? Should the fact things are so bad that I can see it taking only one of any number of plausible potential failures to sink the company cause me consternation?

I know I did my best to change things and was consciously scuppered by others in my attempts to improve the situation. Despite all the reasons that I cannot believe it was the right thing to do, I still wonder if I should have had that inevitably explosive conversation – if only for my own peace of mind?