Punishment by promotion?

Subject: Punishment by promotion?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Martha Silverspring'" <silverspring9235 -at- go -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 08:45:39 -0400

Martha Silverspring has <<... loved working here with these people. I am
uncertain as to what to do; my gut says to leave.>>

I've taken the liberty of putting your last statement first, since it
summarizes for me your decision. If you truly love working there, why are
you even considering leaving? At a minimum, give the changes time to settle
down so you can evaluate whether you like the results. If not, consider
working to change things. If none of that satisfies you, then you may indeed
have to reconsider the situation--but don't leave something you love just
because it's not looking so good all of a sudden. Change is always
intimidating, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily bad.

<<Three months later in the midst of spinoff and reorganization, one of the
execs who didn't approve of our uppity-ness had our whole department
transferred out of R&D to marketing, with a corresponding loss of perks and

Political pissing matches are nasty whether you're at the top of the
hierarchy doing the infighting, or at the bottom dealing with the results.
But it sounds like you've got strong allies (see below).

<<Marketing and training have been reorganized under something called
"<company name> University," managed in Ohio, and their budget has been cut
to put more money into R&D. So if we want to remain technical writers for
this company, we'd not only be out of R&D, but we'd be managed from
Ohio(we're in California) by a completely different culture and on a budget
that's been cut.>>

Ask some hard, quantitative questions as a means of reassuring yourself:
First, what are the actual effects of the budget cuts? You may no longer get
free juice in a cafeteria the Michelin Guide awarded an unheard of six-star
rating <g>, or you may lose staff and have all training funds cut. One is
obviously more serious than the other. Second, define the true meaning of "a
completely different culture". If that culture is laissez-faire, you may see
no change whatsoever in your daily work because the Ohio bunch is happy to
set overall strategic targets, while still letting you go your own way about
achieving them; alternatively, they may be micromanagers and control freaks
from Hell. Again, one is obviously more serious than the other. And don't
forget, if the company is putting more money into R&D, this can mean two
very positive things: first, that the company is doing the long-term
planning required for survival; second, they'll be producing more products
that need your documentation. If the investment helps the company grow,
that's a good thing because it makes it easier to provide the resources you
need after a short period of belt-tightening. Of course, shifting funds to
R&D may also be turning on the bilge pumps as the Titanic is going down. Any
way to find out which is which? Sounds like your exec friend might be a good
source of info.

<<Another exec who knows us and knows what a great team we are got us
another option: we can stay on with the company if we choose to become
"systems engineers." There are no job descriptions yet for this, but other
SE's in the company appear to do a lot of project management and negotiation
between marketing and developers.>>

That's a very interesting option because it addresses most of the fears
you've expressed: First, you'll likely be reporting to that exec or someone
sympathetic to that exec's opinions, or will at least have a champion who
can resist the exec who doesn't like you. Second, you don't have to worry
about adapting to the Ohio division's culture. Third, you have a chance to
shape your own destiny. If you can make all these three factors work well
enough for you that you don't have to leave, that seems to be the obvious

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite
of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."--Niels Bohr,
physicist (1885-1962)

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