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Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

Why I Will Never Work Again

The sidelines are looking better all the time

Published: Monday, August 27, 2012 - 12:26

After 30 years with a bank and 10 years as director of a state quality award program, I retired from the work force in 2003 and have never looked back. As I approach being a septuagenarian next year in March, I look back on my work history with fondness, satisfaction, accomplishment, excitement, and maybe a bit of frustration.

There were highs and lows, great bosses and management teams, and of course a smattering of jerks disguised as senior management. Although I’ve had several opportunities to return to the daily grind over the years, I have opted to stay retired. And as I interact with former colleagues, neighbors, and friends who are still employed, I’m firmly convinced that remaining on the sidelines and avoiding the struggles that many are now experiencing is the right choice for me.

Here’s what I am hearing about today’s work environment and what people are growing weary of:
• Being bought out by a foreign entity and then having to comply with rules and regulations from people who lack the understanding to appreciate the company’s focus, its staff, and the culture
• Attempting to amalgamate the operations of two different companies after what is commonly referred to as a “merger of equals.” History has shown that there is no such thing as a merger of equals; just ask the Daimler Chrysler employees about that.
• Attending weekly or sometimes daily “update meetings” where there is no set agenda or time frame for the meeting, and where everyone touts their accomplishments and fails to disclose any upcoming activities that may have an adverse effect on the company. In my mind, if people leave a meeting without any “action items,” the meeting was a complete waste of everyone’s time.
• Receiving a project with a stretch deadline only to discover that once it is completed and turned in, no one in management even reviews the report for weeks.
• Preparing a plan to decentralize all the departments and then discovering several years later that a consulting firm has been hired to centralize those same departments again.
• Not being able to take a vacation without fear that your position will be studied and perhaps eliminated while you’re away. It is for that reason that many employees do not take a vacation. Fear of losing one’s job seems to permeate the work force these days.
• Incidentally, let’s not even discuss performance reviews, which we all know are a complete waste of time, especially the so-called “360-degree performance reviews” where everyone on the team gets an opportunity to disparage or praise a colleague. These reviews tend to be popularity contests and nothing more.

For all these reasons I know I have made the correct decision in remaining out of the rat race. I suspect that if I reenter the work force, attend a meeting. and any of the following phrases or words come up, I will be making a quick exit: synergy, a glass half-full or half-empty, can’t see the forest for the trees (whatever that means), game changer, cutting edge, show stopper, downsizing, rightsizing, lateral move, paradigms, thinking outside the box, and low-hanging fruit.

However, any organization that has won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award or is on a list of the “100 Best Companies to Work for” are exempt from all the above nonsense. Also, keep in mind that Plante Moran, the certified public accounting and business advisory firm, actually has a notation on its website that the company is “relatively jerk-free.” Now that’s a company all of us can embrace and work for. And that, my friends, is a positive “game changer.”

Yikes, did I say that?


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.


Heartily agree...

Bill, Heartily agree with all of your points, and I would add one:  "Having to work 24/7 because half of the company is 12 time zones away (where wages are lower), until eventually your position is also moved 12 time zones away".  Michael

Enjoyed your article

Bill, From one curmudgeon to another: Good insights, as always. I'm 10 years behind you and trying to hold out -- if you've never seen "Better Off TED" I HIGHLY recommend it (easily available through NetFlix). You're more optimistic about Baldrige winners than I am... Executive arrogance is still the biggest barrier to U.S. improvement. Kind regards, Davis