The Delta Sweete was the second album released by Bobbie Gentry in 1968 after her debut album Ode to Billie Joe, commercially it wasn’t that successful but beautifully produced none the less. Indie Band, Mercury Rev have reimaged this album releasing The Delta Sweete Revisited, in collaboration with several female artists. The album was released this week.
As many of the patrons and regular visitors know, I was made redundant from my job and finished work at the beginning of October. At the beginning of this year I’d chosen to leave the organization in July but had not put my notice in. I’d become disillusioned where I worked, my Manager, whilst well regarded in the industry I worked in, was neither a leader nor manager. In a meeting in February with them, I made my feelings plain. Two weeks later a restructure was announced, so I thought let’s see where this leads.
The restructure which should have been done in six to eight weeks with competent handlers, took seven months. In the end all my Managers direct reports were gone bar one, who sports a glowing brown nose most the time. Ironic too that those who were made redundant were amongst the oldest in their team. Participating in the process, I was found to be unsuitable for the position, I guess being 60 went against me, perhaps I didn’t speak the new corporate language well enough.
I moved to the organization eight years ago, from my own business for many reasons. The original organisation, a State Owned Corporation, operated like a badly run consultancy, but made up for it with warm, passionate workers with pride in the assets they looked after. It somehow worked. The government chose to merge this organization with another to form the current organization. I managed teams in the former and merged organization.
The merged organization bought a new CEO who was tasked by the board to build a new one. New positions were created as well as new roles within teams. New people were bought in. I led a team of four in this new organization and answered to a Manager who had seven direct reports with an overall team of 37. They in turn directly reported to the Executive Manager.
I got on with the new Manager fine personally and with some issues external to work they were supportive. However, as far as work and work issues were concerned, have your back in adversity, make a decision, lead or manage well that’s a different story. What they did bring in their words, was a new way of doing business, a new way of thinking, thought leadership. That became apparent very quickly.
One favourite tool was the whiteboard, which was used frequently, somehow to provide clarity to there thinking and often with more spaghetti than Roz Kelly. At the end that was the work instruction, nothing written down, go off and be creative. Wonderful stuff, one would head off down what you thought was the agreed path only to find at the next meeting, no that’s not what I meant. Repeat the same over and over.
So after say four months little is achieved and it’s time to find the next bouncing ball that all of a sudden has become the most important thing to be done. Repeat above and this over and over.
This new world or should I say “paradigm”, was riddled with corporate speak or should I say jargon. Early on a business case was created for all the “teams”. Now we had core responsibilities that need to be achieved in a specific timeframe. We created a business case, why we needed one who knows, it emphasized “best in class” and “one team culture” not to mention the imagery of gold stars. In the end it looked like a year 4 school project.
Group conferences or love ins were always a joy, generally one to two days, the first one bought all the “teams” together. Discussions around how we could become best in class, what we do well now and where we could improve, we needed to look at where the low hanging fruit was and how we could value add what we currently do. How we could become more customer centric, new team members were asked what they could bring to the table, we were encouraged to think outside the box and see where that game changer with what we produced was.
The following clip “The Cart” was used somehow to encourage. There were variations of this used as well, the rocket ship and the boat.
Our leaders meetings after, we’d take a deep dive into the findings of these love ins, flesh out some of what was discussed, look for the key learnings, encouraged to make sure all our teams were all on the same page. We needed to create the narrative so the take away message was reinforced to our teams. Develop the action plan to seek out those windows of opportunity and become proactive, take ownership and results driven.
That’s of course if our meetings actually happened at the scheduled time, as they were rescheduled regularly. I was amazed how many ended up being rescheduled whilst I was away in the field, meaning I’d have to leave early to drive back or if distant to ensure I was on the scheduled flight, only to watch others knock nine bells out of one another and not get to my part in the agenda.
Disagreements would often happen as they should in these meetings, but often discussions needed to be taken offline were of course they were never discussed.
Training was generally supplied by Human Resources, this was a huge team. They of course were our business partners, who assisted us with onboarding new team members, and with difficulties with our teams or other we could call on them. Well that’s if they’d answer emails or were available. HR of course, is the home of the bull shit jobs. The television show Utopia, is worth a look and Beverley Sadler, I’m sure was the modelled off our HR team.
Perhaps I’m just not good at it, this speaking in jargon I mean. My Manager thrived on it, to the point I think he lost sight of the fact that, what he spoke in the end didn’t make any sense. The thing is that all these new hired Managers spoke the same way, at a workshop earlier this year they were tripping one another up with their use of jargon. They might as well have been speaking in Swahili.
To say that the last three years were an exercise in non achievement and failure to actually complete anything, along with preparing reports that nobody reads, spend endless hours producing monthly task completions only for the system to junked after six months of use, would be an understatement.
On my last day I had an exit interview with one of the newly onboarded HR business partners. What an absolute joy that was. I had plenty I wanted to say but they had their own agenda. They had five questions they wanted to ask about the restructure and the whole offboarding experience, how organization as well as those in the bull shit jobs, could improve that experience. WTF! That was 19 minutes of my life I won’t get back.
I could talk about DISC profiling and 360 reviews, maybe that’s another episode.
Recently, I had lunch with the former colleagues in my team for Christmas. They inform me that the place is falling apart around them. Chaos reigns where there was once order. As they said it’s not a pleasant place to work and they can see little chance of improvement or the enjoyment that was once there returning. I’m glad every day that I’m out of there with a redundancy.
Finally you can have hours of fun with this. These sites are wank word or phrase generators. There’s plenty of them. See what your think.