Saturday, April 01, 2023

Hammerfall 2.0: Aftermath

 I have made an agreement with myself.  I will allow myself to write (and maunder) about being terminated for three days.  After that, time to move on.

The damage at my now former employer continues to spill over as word of who is leaving and who is staying spread.  Entire departments were cut by 80 or 90 percent (or 100 percent, in our case).  The Linked Out notices started to appear - both the ones with employees let people know they were now looking as well (somewhat surprisingly) as former employees reaching out to let people know to reach out to them if there was anything they could do. 

The Social Internet, at work again.

I touched bases with several now "in the process of becoming" former coworkers.  In every case, the tales that I heard were the same:  departments laid low, a sense of sadness as long time coworkers were suddenly cast adrift - I say long time; we had a surprising amount of people that had been in place for 2-3 years or more, which is rare in this industry (or at least was rare, at least once upon a time).  New Home is no Mecca for biopharmaceutical work; likely some or most of these people will have to find jobs somewhere else and uproot themselves.  A very few (like me) may be able to find remote due to the nature of what we do.

How am I feeling?  Rather distressingly, I find myself somewhat in the throes of a certain anger and bitterness.

Why?  The more I dwell on it, the more patently ridiculous this whole thing seems.  The signs that something needed to change were there 9 months ago.  Yet nothing was done.  Hard decisions were not made and no-one acted as if we were in the fight of our lives.  The assumption, I believe, was that additional monies were out there to be raised.  That narrative had really not been true for most of 2022, but was definitely crushed by the Silicon Valley Bank fiasco - if you have not been tracking the IPO and early stage financing market, let me assure you that it is considerably constrained and getting worse.  As a poster yesterday noted, the era of easy money is gone.

And we were counting on easy money.

The whole thing has been mishandled from there.  There is no master listing of who went and who stayed, putting individuals in the position of having to have difficult personal conversations.  There is an impact to this of course:  in 60 days (or less) people will suddenly disappear and no-one will have ready access to their files or things they did to make things work.  Those departing are more interested in finding their next job (no surprise there); those remaining are faced with the daunting task of both managing ongoing activities as well as planning for work that they will have to accomplish with far less personnel.

Many of these peoples were friends, both the departing and the remaining.  This hurts.  

And it could have been mitigated long before.

Part of what I need to do - both in this writing and in general - is to expunge my soul of all of this.  As of Thursday, this all is now in the past.  The future. is what I need to be paying attention to now. a future that has more possibilities than I had anticipated.

But still, it stings.


  1. Nylon126:10 AM

    Anger is part of the grieving process as is writing about it. Hard decisions not made months ago.......idiots in charge or deliberate? Good decision to move on after writing about it for three days, after all a person can't live in the past, life goes on.

    1. Nylon12, you are correct that anger is part of the grieving process - I just like to somehow pretend that it does not apply to me, that somehow I have mastered my anger better than I have - or at least, the parts of it that leave ugly marks on your soul if you soak it in it long enough.

      The three day limit - that is a conscious decision in a way I have not made it before. But it has to be that way, correct? The reality is that in two months, none of this is going to matter - but what will matter is the thing that comes after this. That is where my time and energy needs to be.

  2. I always went through something similar to the five stages of grief after every hammerfall. Briefly there was a bit of denial followed by a lot of anger. After anger, it was the bargaining stage but instead of bargaining, it was more glee I felt in how they would miss what I did in various ways. I never really went through a depression stage, perhaps due to my optimism. Instead I always seemed to get on with the acceptance stage and would occasionally wonder how things were going back at the old work place and if I were still talked about though I no longer had any desire to return.

    1. Ed - I was talking with my coworker about these various stages just last night as well. No denial here - it was apparent this was coming. The anger seems to be cresting now. Like you, no bargaining - except in the same way you are writing of; the list of things myself (and more truly) my coworkers did is long and something that no-one will realize until it is gone.

      Depression - The best to fight any potential depression at this point is just to move onto the next thing, which I am working on doing. The best of all possible worlds, would be to seamlessly transition from one thing to another - which truly, is going to be difficult as we had already planned a number of activities in June that cannot be undone now - but perhaps in the beginning of July.

      I always have an interest in how things are going after I leave - mostly because I want to 1) Make sure my friends made it out; and 2) Find out if things played out the way I thought they might.

  3. Anonymous8:53 AM

    Yes sir. Life is messy. I got axed twice. First time at six months in. I didn't look back. It was bait and switch. The second time, I had a job offer before I got out of bed the next day. It was crazy quick. I did miss that job, though. I was slated for a six week tour in Japan, and then two weeks before we left.... poof.

    I don't need to read a lot about it, but I do learn from you. Don't short out the grief. It'll bite you later on. Work through it. Prepare for the next opportunity. Having a set point of 60 days is great. That gives you a goal post for the prep. Luck favors the prepared. In my math, preparation plus opportunity equals luck.

    The prepaid vacations, etc are a perfect palate cleanser in my mind. Like the flowery first letter of a new chapter in a medieval book. Go forth and conquer!

    1. Thanks for the advice. I am trying to walk a narrow line between needing to look forward to the all too rapidly approaching future and the reality of what is happening. To be honest, even today it continued to smack me in the face as I saw other notifications of individuals that had been let go. It keeps being Thursday all over again.

      I have started a list of actions and options and will take this weekend to flesh it out. It is certainly as if I do not have some options - or even a little savings in the bank if things run over a bit. This was not an unforeseen outcome; there was some preparation this time.

      The vacations really put a capstone and start point on everything: saying "I start, but not before the beginning of July (let us be honest: really July 5th as July 4th is a Tuesday)" makes answering any start date questions absurdly easy.

  4. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I think this is the leading edge- there are a lot of firms that had financial problems that covered it over by rolling borrowed money. Easy to do in a declining interest rate environment, big trouble when rates go up.

    1. I concur. As part of their annual statement, they mentioned they had taken "flexible conditions" loan - which sounds a lot like a Mafia loan. If these are the options, we are indeed on the cusp of rolling failures of a type we likely have not seen since the bust. The immediate future belongs to companies with deep pockets and a business mindset. To the individual, it belongs to those that are resourceful, frugal, and industrious.

  5. Filthie11:02 AM

    Indeed. If you can do it, put it behind you. It’s how the world works these days. Leaving aside politics and economics … as the world becomes less Godly, it gets ever more difficult to do do business in. Fortunately you were not born to simply pay bills and die.

    Where are your swordsmanship skills at, TB? Are you pulling your weight at the SPCA rabbit shelter?

    1. Glen - You hit on an amazingly relevant point I am walking through right now: I do not just want to "go to the next thing" because all it would be is another version of "pay bills and die". I want a little more than that, even if the cost of it is changes in my lifestyle for things that did not really matter anyway.

      My swordsmanship skills - sadly, my future as a Yojimbo (bodyguard) is likely in doubt. I am still improving, which is really the point. It is the sort of activity that no matter how awful my day has been, going to train makes me feel better (perhaps archery is the same for you). Still working hard at the Rabbit Shelter - who knows, I may have even more time to volunteer now!

      I have mentioned to a number of people that if and when we relocated, my sword class and the rabbit shelter would be the two things I would truly miss.

  6. My condolences for the stress and trauma of your current state, and best wishes for whatever the next steps are. I hope your are able to apply the lessons of Stoicism that we have hinted at and make them into a true peace of mind.
    Long ago, I was working at a small community hospital that was swallowed up by a major corporate network. My co-workers and I looked at each other, realizing that any semblance of job security had just evaporated; the big corporation could close our facility at any time and call it a tax write off. I asked one of my peers if I could use his name for a reference, as I wasn't ready to let our supervisor know that I was applying elsewhere. His eyes got wide, and he asked "Where are you applying to?" I told him, and he just said "I've just applied for that job too!" As it turned out, we both went to the same place a couple weeks apart. The little hospital took another ten years swirling around the drain, but it finally did close as we expected.
    I suspect that in some respects, you are better off than your co-workers being retained. Their stress will not end, and their jobs will be that much more difficult for it.

    1. Thanks Greg! I will say that at least observationally, things for job hunting seem a little bit easier - I am seeing multiple people posting "open for work" on Linked Out and former employees that have moved on have been very generous in their posts saying "let me know what I can do to help". In that sense, the camaraderie is very encouraging. All of this has been generated by employees themselves of course, and some remaining individuals that are looking out for the coworkers. Executive management offered zero help in this matter.

      I really do think that those who remain will be in a world of bad. The energy will be bad, the all too apparent holes where people used to be will be painfully obvious, and the company will have zero culture except "do not go out of business". It cannot be healthy, and I already know of retained individuals who are looking to get out as quickly as possible. No-one wants to find out the last lifeboat really was not there at all.

  7. I'm sorry, TB. I can't say I really know what to say except the corporate business world is just a machine. It has no feelings and doesn't really care for anything except for the worthless money it worships. Only the guys on the top of the pyramid care about, well, themselves. It's kinda sad.

    Dust yourself off when you're ready and wipe off your 'glasses'. Soon you'll see things more clearly and be ready to move beyond it all. Think spring, my friend! Time for renewal and sunshine (except for here where we seem to be in a perpetual winter slump! At least the bulbous blue grass in the yard is green and there's rumor that someone in the family saw buttercups... alas, too muddy to trek out to see )

    But hang in there - got your greenhouse going? What are you gonna grow? What books are you going to read that you haven't read yet?

    I know... I'm a pest. But remember I'm your friend :-)
    I'll be keeping you all in my prayers that all gets sorted out soon.

    1. Hobo - Thank you. I have had no illusions about any corporate management, especially my own. They at least tried to portray a different image but when push came to shove, they were like everyone else.

      The garden will have to go into production in the next two weeks or so, before we hit Summer running. Books...I still have enough likely for the rest of the year. And figuring out next steps, of course.

      You are hardly a pest! And many thanks for the prayers.

  8. polimath11:28 PM

    God has a plan for each of us. Take your missus to dinner to celebrate the end of a chapter, thank God and have an expectancy for the new thing he will bring you.
    May his peace rest on you and bring clarity to your thoughts.

    Jerimiah 209
    11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

    12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

    13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

    1. Polimath - We did indeed go to dinner last night, perhaps not so much of a celebration as a mode of comfort. It was to our favorite Hamburger place, which always lifts my spirits. The big "end of chapter" will come at the afore mentioned pre-planned (and pre-paid) vacation in early June.

      The prayers are appreciated. I need Scriptural reminders a great deal, it seems - I can already tell keeping some sense of depression at bay is going to be a task.

  9. Mishandled. I'm pretty ignorant about the conductings of business, but from my lowly perch, it seems like mismanagement is the lion's part of the problem. I notice that top management always gets their 7-figure bonuses, even when the next day, company doors are shut and everyone is out of a job. But there's no motivation to change, because the government is always at the ready with a bailout, and at the very least, bankruptcy can be declared to sweep the debt under the rug. Even worse, our government seems to be run with the same ineptitude. Not hopeful about where that will end.

    1. Leigh, I suspect it usually is (I, like you, am fairly ignorant of business practices).

      As a general note, I think that any company that forgets that its first point of business is to turn a profit is in trouble from the start (yes, I know, there are some charitable based businesses that look to cover costs, but they are a minority). Part of this almost stems from a sort of "keeping up with Jones'" attitude in certain industries: All business in this industry offer X and Y and Z, so we must as well to hire the "right" people".

      Add to this a peculiar new strain, that of businesses being socially conscious. Without getting into the sort of discussion that we do not do here, there is an associated monetary cost as well as a business focus cost with such things. Such sorts of things are cheered by industry and social groups and the government, until suddenly the business runs out of money: I can assure that industry, social groups, and government suddenly forget you have even existed.

      The safety net you refer to is another big incentive to some level of irresponsibility. If you understand no-one is coming to help you, you work and spend differently than if you know that if you do not do it, no one else will.

      I do not specifically read the future from this one event (although it has a pretty big impact on my future), but the trends you mention are not hopeful. I suspect we are in for a major change of the business model that has been in place since the early 1990's with the rise of the businesses, one that will change how businesses form and are run.

      I suppose on the bright side, I will get a ringside seat to all of this. Every historian and chronicler's dream.

  10. 8 years ago, lots of resume's few call backs. I cut my expenses early just in case, eventually sold my house after the kids were gone.

    Equity preservation is the key. Many have no clue what their monthly expenses are, I now acutely know what mine are. Last but not least if you are a believer God is with you and things happen for a reason.

    The peace, of mind and heart, are worth their weight in Gold.

    1. BCCL - That was my story in 2009 as well: almost 160 resumes, less than 10 interviews, 2 job offers. We have already started cutting expenses - The Ravishing Mrs. TB has been all over it from the day I let her know. There is still a gap, but even if I find a part time job, that could close it.

      I do indeed understand this happened for a reason; just trying to be open to hearing what the next step is.

  11. Interesting reading this... makes me one wonder how much money is mishandled in general. And I mean, like... everywhere. I'm sorry you're a casualty of poor business management, TB. Anger is understandable when having to pay the price of someone else's poor decisions or worse... inactions.

    1. Becki, it is one of those things that has actually simmered the more I have thought about it. That is the infuriating thing about these events: people that had no impact on the outcome were impacted by it, and those that made the decisions seem to be completely immune to the impact of them.


Comments are welcome (and necessary, for good conversation). If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!