Post Impending Doom (at the Great Retail Empire)

The thing around my eye in my last post is similar to the new logo of the Great Retail Empire. This is a “chronicle” of events that have transpired as of late involving said Empire.


Written Tuesday, 02/17/2009.

As many of you probably heard in the news a week ago, the company I am indentured to by day—the “Great Retail Empire”—laid off about 700+ associates in the Home Office. Where I work. (Yes, I have two jobs: the day job in IT for the Empire, and the tattoo job by nights and weekends.)

“Starting today, and over the next few weeks, you will be hearing from your leaders about some important changes designed to align our staffing and organizational structure to increase operational efficiencies, support our strategic growth plans and help reduce our overall costs,” Mike Duke, our new CEO wrote.

It is the “over the next few weeks” portion that has everyone on edge in the division I work for (and probably other divisions as well). There have been many rumors swirling around about impending layoffs that will occur in our division, most saying they will come this week. The mood at work is less than productive.

I can’t imagine that upper management is not aware of these rumors. The only communication that has been made was one stating that “changes will be coming”. Helpful. That helped fan the flames in the rumor kiln.


Written Friday, 02/20/2009.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook read during the day today, the other shoe dropped.

I don’t know how many in my division were laid off but there were 4 on my team of 23 that were removed today with one being my manager. (That’s 17% of my team for you math guys.)

It started this morning when I woke up. I had received a couple text messages during the night that some of my team were having trouble accessing systems. As it turns out, they were removed from the Administrators group last night. This removal actually happened while one of my teammates was working. All of a sudden he could no longer access anything to do his job.

From there it went downhill.

I got to the office around 7:15 this morning. I was at my desk when my manager walked up and told me he just received “the call”. I knew what he meant. It was all I could do not start crying right there. Seriously. He has been by far the best manager in my entire career at the Great Retail Empire. Unlike most others, he stood by and up for his people, when most managers were flakes and bowed to the whims of upper management. (Which is probably why he was targeted.) He didn’t micromanage us and he gave us the freedom to actually do our jobs. I feel that whomever is made to take his place will have a tough time.

After his call and removal, one by one the other three from my team were called and walked out of the building. No one on my team wanted to answer their phones for the rest of the day.

There were many others who were also walked out today, all before 11 AM.

There was no logical reason provided by upper management as to the decisions on who stayed and who went. (I know—logic and upper management don’t go together.) I personally speculate that those selected for removal on my team were done so as an act of retaliation by one particular member of upper management, as these associates were all ones who either stood up to “the corner office” or made waves with that officer’s decisions.

Add to all this: no member of management even came by to talk with us until after lunchtime. Five hours with no “hey, this is what’s going on” or anything. So much for “Respect for the Individual”. And when our Director finally did stop by, our team was actually told: “we’re not sure what we’ll do yet with your team, but we’ll figure it out next week or so”. WTF?

Apparently the security teams are extremely paranoid about my team as they came down and physically removed a few workstations from my team, as well as expired everyone’s domain credentials so they had to be reset. (And a few other things I can’t blog about.) I’m sure this was done because a few of us have a “checkered” history when it comes to the things we can do with computers, and security is well aware of what we can do. (Although anyone worth their salt wouldn’t do anything from their own workstation, but I digress.) These guys knew their shit; a few of them know it better than me!

As you can imagine, today was pretty much a bust for those of us who remained.

I personally am trying to figure out how these “important changes … to increase operational efficiencies” are going to help. There are now 19 of us left to support some 160,000+ workstations… when we were already barely keeping our heads above water. Yeah… that made things more efficient. Stupid fuckers.

There is the potential that I will get some sort of disciplinary action for writing this as the Great Retail Empire now has a policy prohibiting “Social Networking” by its associates and talking about things like this. So be it. It’s my blog.

I have spent roughly the last 5 years with most of these guys. 45+ hours a week. They are family. I’m at a loss on how to mentally handle this. I’m worn out. I’m tired. And I hurt. I can’t even begin to imagine how they and their families are handling it.

My thoughts and well-wishes go out to those I’ve “lost” today.

(Update, 02/24/2009: Links removed… I know my blog is being watched.)

Until next time...

17 thoughts on “Post Impending Doom (at the Great Retail Empire)

  1. We will be going through this in the next few months. Unfortunately in my case, it’s the new and innovative ones who will get the ax, not the old, bitchy, and unproductive ones who need to go! Worse case scenario for me is being bumped into a manager position (again for the 3rd time)

    Good luck and I hope you make it through the next round

  2. It was pretty much the same over in my ‘building’.
    Our mutual friend, GuyverLord, was let go, too.
    Yesterday was numbing.

  3. this past week was truly hell ….. more for some then others …. it was a eye opener ….. i hve been in the shoes of those who lost thier job. i was laid off by IBM 2 weeks after my oldest son was born … i thought i would never recover from that …… but i believe sometimes you hve to go thru bad times to get something better …. don’t get me wrong … i hate what took place and the one person who i really looked up to was let go for all the wrong reasons …… my heart goes out to all …..

  4. What is really bad is Walmart is one of the few businesses still making a profit. They had an opportunity to not take part in this bleeding of the American workforce, instead they opted to insure even greater profits for their investors.

  5. Well, i’m glad you still have a job for now. I think that’s something to be thankful for.

    But what a lousy way to do it. Locking people out of systems WHILE they were at work?? Not cool.

  6. True testament to a management style and company ethics is, if they deem it necessary to lay off, how they behave the day the deed is done.

    When I was laid off in the first great internet bubble burst, my boss was walked out first, without my knowledge and I was shortly after. I never saw any other employees after being told and was taken back to my desk and out the door, which in my mind, was nice, to save embarrassment. Shitty, still, but thoughtful.

    Next week, our office is going down to 4 day work weeks. I’m thankful I still have a job but not looking forward to cramming that extra day in there.

    You’re in my thoughts.

  7. I really think everyone should petition to get Bennett back. Open door it straight to Rolin. Request an explanation as to why the highest performing manager in the area was let go. I mean honestly, even if I was still there… I doubt I could enjoy being there without a good manager. I feel more sorry for the people who still have a job on that team than I do for us few who got laid off. Myself personally, I am excited… I got a sweet severance package and can go work for anyone I want to now, no 2 year wait.

  8. bad news indeed
    alas, it is all so common. And it all seems so arbitrary and without logic. It would help a little if they would tell you the reasons for this and that decision.

    The ban on talking about these things is mean. It sounds like the powers that be don’t want people to network or compare notes etc.

    no fun in this.

  9. The squeaky wheels have been removed, and it sounds like the whole damn machine is going to be dismantled. Shit, in the end we outcasts may be better off.

    Now I’ve got to work out the logistics on how to move back home.

    Avenue Q was awesome, by the way. Highly recommended.

  10. I wish I could say something meaningful that might ease your stress and dismay over the crap some humans are capable of, but it would probably come out sounding fake. I will say that it helps me to know that I have someone to help me through the hard times. Be well and, as my g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather who was Italian but spoke Latin because he was a Caesar would have said: illegitimi non carborundum (don’t let the bastards grind you down).

  11. I’m glad you still have a job, although I’m kind of shocked to know you work for the Great Retail Empire. I always thought that inking was your full time job and judging my what’s happening at the other place, it soon may well be – but let’s not hope for that.

    I’ll keep you and your husbear in my thoughts, even the naughty ones. 🙂

  12. Sorry you’re having to go through all of this. My company has been going through lay offs for the past 8 months. Somehow I’ve stayed on through the last 3. Glad that you still have a job, but it’s difficult to work on those sort of conditions. Thinking about you.

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