Thursday, June 19, 2014

Corporate America eats its young again

They fired my boss today. They've fired her before, but when this client came along they plucked her out of obscurity, gave her a corporate cell phone and asked her to work her magic again. And work it she did.

In her first meeting with us front-line managers (there were three of us in the beginning) she let her expectations be known. I fell in love -- not with the woman (well, OK, I did have some inappropriate feelings for the blonde little pixie-rebel, but I kept them hidden) but with her management style. "You blow smoke up my skirt, I'll kick your ass all the way to the curb," she said. "You be here for your people, you serve them, you put them first, and I will back you all the way to the gates of Hell, and boys and girls, we will visit those gates before this is over." Or something like that.

She was a goddess in my eyes. The first time I had to fire a single mom, Heather held me and let me actually cry on her shoulder. When I went into a funk over missed service levels, she took me into the back parking lot and told me to get my shit in a sock before I lost the respect of my team. When I nailed my first monthly operations report presentation, she jumped up and applauded. When I fell asleep at my desk after four straight 14-hour days, she gently wakened me and gave me a free day to go get some sleep. She was tough as hell, gentle as your mother's caress, and when she walked, you know the lady had a place to be and people to see.

Now she's gone. Her successor, a young man I admire and respect deeply, had the look of real fear in his eyes at the announcement meeting.

It's a financial decision, I know. The client won't pay for two managers at that level and has a decided preference for the younger military veteran who speaks softly and tolerates no shit. He's talented, eminently capable, and I will continue to enjoy working with him.

But damn, why does this have to be so harsh? One minute you're building one helluva team that rocks the metrics and makes the client smile, and the next minute you're trying to make severance pay stretch through the summer.

Again, corporate America eats its young.

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