Thursday, March 15, 2007

Last Day

Today is my last day at my job - the job I have loathed for oh these many months. What began as a promising career ended up becoming a year of wasted time. For the most part, I thought no one at my company even noticed I was there. So on the day I submitted my resignation (which was nothing like the last time I had done this), I began drafting an email (I called it my manifesto) about how, for the past year, AAM (my company) had left me to wither on a vine, giving me little or nothing to do, and practically demoting me while giving me constant praise and high reviews. The email would eventually be sent to my boss (the Marketing Manager), her boss (the Director of Marketing), and his boss (the president of the company). It went through some editing phases, but I was pretty sure the email was ready to be sent when my last day came.

And then last Friday happened. The president of my company invited me into his office and began our conversation with this:
"I have never had this conversation with anyone in my entire career, and I hope I never have to again."
With this, my mind raced. What could I have done, I thought. I don't do anything all day long so how could I have upset the president of the company? And then he continued:
"AAM really dropped the ball where you have been concerned for the past year", he said. "Promises were made when you were hired, and AAM did not fulfill those promises. Nor did we provide you with the tools to grow, prosper, or even nurture your abilities in any way. We failed you. And since my managers did not manage you well, and I clearly didn't manage my mangers well, I have failed you too. And for that, I am sorry."
Well, knock me over with a feather! This is a man who runs a $15.4 billion company. After a week he won't even see me again - ever. He didn't have to acknowledge me or even say good bye to me. But here he was delivering a mea culpa on behalf of his staff, his company, and himself -- and in a very humbling manner.

He asked for my suggestions as to how AAM could improve so that this type of thing does not happen again. And I used the opportunity to verbally share my email rather than send it later. I was glad I had everything fresh in my head - I must have looked so prepared for a meeting that was unscheduled. And since I had nothing to lose, I was very honest about my thoughts, my feelings, and my disappointments.

After a 20 minute conversation, John (the president) offered that he would provide a great reference for me, even if it's 10 years down the road. And he said that even though he was sure I was moving on to a better opportunity than what AAM had provided, I was welcome to come back to AAM and that they would "get it right the second time".

That felt really good. And I oddly felt vindicated even though I had done nothing wrong. But this isn't where I go soft and say that working here wasn't all that bad in retrospect - because it was bad. I've never felt so ignored in my life; it goes beyond not having things to do. And I am glad to be leaving today.

Next Wednesday I begin my new job and new life, and I phrase it that way because I think many changes will occur in my personal life as a result of this change in my professional life. And next Thursday, I will tell you all about it.
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