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Thread: Thoughts, Rants, and Musings

  1. #721
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    Plus, they take care of their major problems.
    I think I meant to write, "major clients" here, but I guess I was too preoccupied with the major problems that I see!

    Honestly, I think about this management failure every day. It's hard not to, because it plays out constantly throughout my workday. I find it endlessly frustrating, but I'm also trying to learn from it. As the saying goes, "if you can't set a good example, you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

    Two of the owners basically grew up in this company. So, even though they have years of experience, they have years of one experience. The third owner, Ivan, is a creature of habit. Very methodical and linear. I'm not 100% certain, but I think he's been here for the majority of his professional career.

    All three owners seem to be checked out in some way. I think they rely far too much on people they've designated as managers. Some of the managers they've chosen are very poor, clearly based more on wishful thinking than performance. Some of their managers barely deign to show up for work, and ride roughshod over the office policies. I suspect some of these managers have developed very good relationships with the firm's major clientele. If they were fired, some of these clients might follow them and it could result in a significant loss of revenue to the firm.

    Another thing: the owners simply don't have boots on the ground. They don't truly enforce their own office policies and they don't seem to realize that they don't have any office standards where output is concerned. They apparently think they have a standard, but they clearly don't. Anyone looking at the drawings that come out of this place can tell there are many cooks in the kitchen.

    Sometimes I wonder if the revolving door is part of their business strategy. I think a lot about the way that I was hired, and how my first project was structured. First, they lured me in with a nice salary. Then they assigned me to a project manager (Catherine) who was also a new employee--she'd just been there a couple weeks longer than me. The one and only project we worked on was for a new client. It was a big project, and to me it seemed important. But in reality, it was zero risk to the company. They didn't rely on that client for revenue at all. If the project failed (and it did), they could just lob that whole limb off--project and associated employees--without blinking. Pretty clever, really. And horrifying when I first perceived that possibility two summers ago.

    I've watched the progress of some people into the firm and out of the firm. It seems like Ivan is a test of sorts--one that I passed, thankfully. Like, if you f*ck up or are suspected of f*cking up, you get sent to Ivan and he makes a final determination. I watched it happen to two other people after me, and they were subsequently fired. Ivan is the sh*tlist.

    I'm holding on here because I think there's something in it for me. The company could be slowly dying, but I can still get something out of it while it's still alive. The person I'm working for right now is really, really good. Probably the best I've met so far. And the projects are simple and complex at the same time, which is perfect for learning.

  2. #722
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    I'm really irritated with Jason at the moment. He was supposedly "at my disposal" on Thursday, but kept putting off helping me. I think he helped with two hours worth of work, total. That would be fine if they moved the deadline back, but they didn't. They should have, but they didn't.

    I had an immense amount of pressure on me all week, and this culminated in a vicious headache all day yesterday. Plus, I had heartburn or acid reflux or something--which I never get. I'm sure it was from the stress. Because of it, I didn't want to take anything for the headache--I was afraid it would make me throw up.

    By noon the headache was unbearable, so I left. I did feel bad for that because it meant they wouldn't meet their deadline, but I simply couldn't think straight. And I have to protect my wellbeing--those guys certainly aren't going to!!
    Last Friday, I left work early with a screaming headache, deadlines be damned.

    The day had started out well. Mark, the owner, told me to bug him about signing some drawings. He said, "I donít mind because I like you. Itís not like Pratima, who was constantly in here pestering me." Pratima was the woman who was fired while she was on vacation. Weird that Mark brought that up, but.... whatever.

    I still had hope that Jason was really going to help me.

    But by mid-morning, it was obvious that I was on my own and I was really angry.

    So, I went home and spent most of the rest of the day writing a long letter to Mark about how f*cked up Shannon and Jason were. Fortunately, I was so angry that I couldn't string together a complete thought. I just kept cutting myself off midsentence and starting another angry thought. So, I postponed sending that email to Mark.

    On Saturday, I woke up thinking, it would probably be more in my interest to send this letter to Shannon. So that's what I did. By the end of Saturday, I had something like seven pages worth of complaints. Obviously, TMI that nobody wants to wade through. Plus, one of my major complaints with this company is the finger-pointing, and at least five of the seven pages I wrote consisted of me pointing my finger at Jason, Shannon, and the company at large. Not a great strategy.

    So, on Sunday, I gave the thing a good edit, removed the finger-pointing, and presented the situation and the problems with a positive, proactive attitude. I also made sure to give her some information about my background, that I'd changed careers in my 30s. It's fine for her to have high expectations for me, but they should be realistic given that I have 10 years less experience in this field than she does.

    I sent the letter late morning and put it out of my mind for the rest of the day. I felt better than I had in weeks. Actually, I felt better the moment I started writing a letter to someone because it made me feel like I was taking action. By the end of the weekend, my acid reflux symptoms had diminished completely.

    When I came into the office on Monday, Shannon's response was waiting for me. She was sympathetic to the level of stress that I'd been under and reaffirmed her belief that I was a good fit for her department. As I suspected, she hadn't been aware of my background. She'd assumed that since we were the same age, we had the same amount of experience..... nope!

    Anyway, the response was positive, she was willing to work with me, and last week was a lot better than the week before--except for some dark moments when Jason asked me for my status on a code-comment issue.... that just pissed me off because I'm still pissed at him.

  3. #723
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dias
    Jib, I lost count of the number of people that got fired since you started this job! It doesn't make sense to fire employees so frequently. I mean, this has a negative impact on the company. They lose money and time to retrain people. It seems the upper management is inept if anything.
    This thought occurred to me yesterday, and I think it crystallizes the situation nicely: The only people who are held accountable here are the newcomers, who come in and out like thereís a turnstile. There seems to be some sort of tenure here. Once you hit a few years, you get to pick and choose your responsibilities.

  4. #724
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    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    This thought occurred to me yesterday, and I think it crystallizes the situation nicely: The only people who are held accountable here are the newcomers, who come in and out like thereís a turnstile. There seems to be some sort of tenure here. Once you hit a few years, you get to pick and choose your responsibilities.
    I commend you for staying there. I would have said the "f*ck off" long time ago. It's a toxic work culture!

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  6. #725
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dias
    I commend you for staying there. I would have said the "f*ck off" long time ago. It's a toxic work culture!
    I agree. But I'm finding that this whole industry has a toxic culture. I have seen this at every employer. There's no escape.

    The problem is not architecture, but what architects have allowed themselves to become: functionally insular and egotistical to the point of stupidity. They think they are elite artists. They forget they are here to build buildings and cities.

    My long term goal is to go into business for myself, so I have to dance with the devil a little until I can achieve a degree of experience that will enable me to do things my way.

    Every day at work, I'm confronted with examples of absurd elitism. I make notes on it!! It keeps me sane and it's also very instructive: How not to be, and why not to be that way.

    I find value at this particular job for two reasons: First, there are a couple very talented and knowledgeable architects that I can learn from (Mitchell and Shannon). And second, this company has all of the consulting trades in house: structural, mechanical, plumbing, electric, civil. So, I am able to coordinate with them directly. This frees me from the ivory tower than most architects reside in and will make me more competitive in the future.

  7. #726
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    We had a team lunch on Friday. It's the first I've attended since joining this team. Shannon is trying to have this once a month so that everyone can discuss problems they've been facing and ways to improve efficiency.

    During the meeting, Eddie said to Shannon, "Mark should have bid xyz job a lot higher. When you see how much time Jessica and I have spent on it, you're gonna sh*t."

    Everybody laughed in surprise at this choice turn of phrase. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shannon jump a little when "you're gonna sh*t" came out of his mouth. But she recovered with ease and said, "I'll just have to wear a diaper, then."



    ______________
    Side note:

    Eddie is an older architect. His job is to QC the drawings before they are issued. He is also responsible for staff development.

    Unfortunately, Eddie's idea of 'staff development' is preaching about the glory of the old ways. According to him, everyone should still be hand drafting, we should all join the AIA, blah blah blah.

    Another problem: When he QCs a set, he focuses on graphics issues instead of constructability issues that can result in change orders.

    His markups are usually along the lines of, "Rotate this label."

    I usually end up saying, "F*ck the label, Eddie. Tell me if the construction details make sense and are properly coordinated!!!"

    I find it very frustrating, but he is a dear, sweet man and I have to stop beating up on him. He's really a nice guy.

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