I started writing this blog in my final days of employment for a company whose name I will mask as "Education Shack" (to protect both the innocent and guilty), reflecting on my 25 month tenure there. I decided to hold off on posting it, until I had time to detox from the negativity that weighed me down. The result is a much more reflective (and less angry) reflection, in the form of a blog post.
What I learned:
- People are the reason that I stayed as long as I did. There are terrific individuals in the Technology department and in other departments of the company. I value the relationships that I built during my tenure and sincerely hope that many of them will remain now that I am gone. The folks with whom I worked rarely ceased to amaze me, with knowledge about other companies, leaders, products, systems and all sorts of random facts. So many people were so giving of their time and talents and I would not have been successful without them.
- When you find that you don't like the person you have become, change. In my case, I needed to either change my place of employment or change my frame of reference. I didn't like the wife and mother I was while working at "the shack"; I didn't like my lack of patience with my daughter or how critical I was of my husband. In my 2.5 week absence (even in the 5.5 weeks since I turned in my resignation), I found that I like myself a lot more; I don't bring the stress home with me. This is evidence enough that my decision was the correct one.
- No matter how much you try, some people just don't want to learn (pun?). Some people don't want to learn the processes that make a department a success; people don't want to learn the technology that is the backbone of the organization; people don't want to spend the time learning more about the people who make them successful with clients. As a result, some people will never understand the true value of the technical assets (people, processes and systems) at Education Shack.
What I wish the company would learn:
- People are the driving force of the organization. Employees need to feel secure - financially, emotionally, and physically - to thrive. An environment of condemnation - from a certain "leader" who will throw anyone under the first bus he/she sees or from an account manager who will speak negatively of departments to anyone who will listen - is not one where employees feel secure. Employees should feel valued and not as though they are replaceable. Employees shouldn’t have to worry that one day their investment firm will come in and "clean house" again. "Education Shack" has numerous opportunities to improve in this capacity.
- Technology = Success. There is not a single organization in the world that will not benefit from advances in technology, as these advances can increase performance, efficiency and/or quality, provide a competitive advantage and/or marketability, and increase persistency of clients. That said: Leadership should make every effort to enable those responsible for technology to improve and to think outside of the box, without fear of failure or criticism.
- Strong leadership is essential. The void that existed in strong, supportive, and permanent leadership of the Technology department is insurmountable. A simple - but telling - example is a basic field that I was supposed to fill in on my exit interview form: Supervisor. I filled it in with a question mark. I think this example is indicative of the state of the department. Technology (and every department, for that matter) needs a strong leader to set direction, provide guidance and development and to defend the department from "outside forces".
To my friends: I am sorry that I left you; however, I am not sorry that I left the organization. I encourage you to evaluate your circumstances and determine if "Education Shack" is the best option for you.