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Ordinary People Taking Action
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He came downstairs teary-eyed after a restless night of sleep. “I can’t do this anymore,” he said to his wife. She looked back at him with a blank expression as her mind raced to decipher the meaning behind his words. What exactly did he mean by “this”?
It had been two years of feeling like they were strangers, passing each other in the house on opposite schedules. The kids pulled them in different directions daily. Their jobs were demanding, causing them both to work endless hours. They often felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day or even in the week.
The company announced changes were coming a little over two years ago. He knew that he would be “all-in” for work and that would cause strain on his personal life. He never imagined the strain would lead to this.
“There is just so much coming at me, I can’t keep up. Every day there is a new emergency. I spend hours and hours on conference calls where I feel like people are just complaining, not looking for solutions. I have to do it all. Sales. Customer Support. IT help desk. New employee training. Hiring. Building maintenance.
The acquisition took a lot longer than anyone had planned. When the buyout became public, there was a lot of reassurance that the employees would be taken care of. The culture would become the best of both businesses. All employees would be set up for long-term success.
“I’ve watched so many people leave. It’s been hard to keep clients happy while we shut down offices. Once someone leaves, their role isn’t being replaced. Management says they need to see how headcount shakes out after the merger. Meanwhile, I am not only doing the work of three in the current office, I’m preparing for the new office as well. Some days I feel like I am doing the work of seven or eight people. I don’t even know how to get out of the chaos – the bad cycle that I am in. I’m not alone. Many are feeling the same way. When I spoke to my manager, he told me to just “get it done”. He said if I had questions, I could ask, but that it was unlikely he’d know the answers either.”
The emotional strain would continue to wear on him, his wife, his family. His friends would see him less and less and when they did, they commented that he looked burned out and tired. He wouldn’t quit his job for another six months.
His former employer would lose a loyal, very committed, high performer. They’d never realize what was lost, as they didn’t take the time to really notice their employees – strong performers or not. Everyone was just a number.
It would take several more months before he realized that nothing he could have done would have made a positive difference. He was grateful he’d taken control of his career before his personal life had unraveled along with it. His wife would say over dinner one evening, “You didn’t fail the company; the company failed you.”
He thought about that for a moment and wondered, “Is it really companies failing their employees? Or is it just people failing other people?”