Sunday, April 01, 2012

SWG Coffee Social: Job Disillusionment

Now that March is over, the theme of the month seems to have been “Job Disillusionment.” It began with a night out with my 40-something girlfriends. Two of them work for the same manufacturing company. The topic of conversation quickly turned to job dissatisfaction. Kate, whom I previously wrote about here, was passed over for another promotion. Thinking she actually had a chance this time, she prepared a presentation highlighting her accomplishments. These accomplishments included working on the company budget, traveling to other company facilities to audit and upgrade their systems and acting as manager while the current controller was out on sick leave. She also has completed her MBA. She thought she had rocked in her interviews, so when she received word the promotion had gone to a (younger) male colleague whom she had trained she was extremely disappointed.

Why didn’t Kate receive the promotion?
She was told that when her name came up as a top contender, one of the senior officers said, “Isn’t she the one who is the eight to fiver.” Kate had previously received feedback that she did not put in enough face time.  When asked during the interviews about her willingness to work long hours if promoted she answered with, "I will work whatever hours are necessary to get the job done." Apparently this answer wasn’t good enough to overcome her reputation

Was Kate’s MBA a waste of time and money?
Kate feels earning her MBA has not improved her career one bit and in hindsight thinks it may have been a waste of time and money. Though, she does attribute her staled career somewhat to the down economy. I asked another friend, Leah, who also has earned her MBA for her thoughts. She too feels earning her MBA did not advance her career. She thinks an MBA is only worth it if you are on a career track in which an MBA is required prior to earning one.

Here are a couple of other “Job Disillusionment” stories from the month:

Employee forced to work on special project after co-worker's decline offer:
My second friend from above, Elaine, was pulled from her current position in accounting and assigned to work on the company’s computer conversion for the next nine months. Other employees including Kate were asked if they would like to work on the project and declined, Elaine was TOLD she had been assigned to the project. I imagine the company had no choice; someone has to work on the conversion so they stopped asking and started telling.

Companies continue to downsize:
Leah works for a large insurance company in our area. This insurance company has announced they plan to continue reducing their workforce in 2012 and that layoffs are possible. Leah was told her job was safe for NOW, but is nervous about her future with this company.

Required to reapply for their jobs:
It could be worse though, both a blogger I follow and her husband work for the same company. This company was sold and the purchasing company is closing the facility in their city. To maintain employment with their new company they have to apply for positions at the company’s headquarters in another state. During the interview process they do not know what positions they are applying for or what salaries these jobs will pay.

Unhappy Workers:
While attending my networking meeting at the end of the month, I made an effort to walk around and talk to my fellow members (remember I joined Classy Career Girl's Networking Challenge this month). As I made my way around the room I kept hearing the same phrase over and over, “I am so unhappy in my job.” The reasons alternated between bad bosses and too much work. All I can say is when this economy does turn around companies better be prepared for high employee turnover.

Here are some of my favorite posts/articles from around the web during the month of March:

I found Heidi Reddig's post Human Resources is neither "Human" nor "Resources" on the Collared Sheep to be both entertaining and true. My favorite line is:
HR’s job, as far as it concerns you, the intern or general variety underling, is to provide blank forms, collect forms that have been completed and then process them.
It has been so long since most of us have received a raise, I suggest we all read Ask a Manager's What not to say when you ask for a raise before doing so. Note, saying I just got my masters is on the list of things not to say.

I found it interesting that Syd at Retirement: A Full-Time Job recommends in More on Early Retirement that would be retirees have:
3 years worth of living expenses available in liquid assets so you don't have to be overly concerned about stock market gyrations.  (At least for those of us that will be living on our 401(k)'s rather than a pension.)
Speaking of networking in Solving the Gen Y Woman's Career Problem Rebecca of kontrary reminds us:
The number one thing you can do for career opportunities and advancement (read: dream jobs, meaningful work, more money, better titles) is to network, network, and network. Eighty percent of job openings are filled through networking (you know, actually talking to people).
In Ann Daly's interview with Rashi Biswas the author of Rash Decisions: Accept Where You Are, and Then...Be Amazing, Ann informs us Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat Alone (hmm a book about networking) is the best business book she has ever read.

And lastly, as if Ann has been listening to my stories of job disillusionment in the same interview she answers the question:

How do you feel about the current status of women in the workforce?


Women's progress in the workplace has stalled. Thankfully, we're no longer insisting that things are better, or equal. Even younger women are recognizing sooner rather than later that power defaults to the men in the room. We have to remain vigilant about leveling the playing field.
How about you? Are you become disillusioned with your job? Do you have an MBA, if so do you feel it was worth the time and money you invested?

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

The Value of "face time"

Difficult Co-Workers, Supervisors and Managers

The culture of patriarch continues to be an obstacle for women


  1. Tough topic. Everything you read says that in this tough economy businesses are keeping the women because they are PAID less, but that means that when they bring back the men it will be at higher salaries, despite the fact that we have carried the load during the down times.

    I have never worked anywhere that getting an MBA helped with either job or salary. I really think it is only helpful when changing jobs. The current employer doesn't perceive any additional value in a current employee getting one.

    There's nothing at all wrong with my job, but I am terminally bored. With only three more years until I can retire (I hope!) I am marking time and making sure I don;t lose it! Not the best way to get up every morning, tho.

    Hope you have a good week!

  2. Not disillusioned, just tired. But I've linked to you in part two of my mini Career Week posts.

    It's a shame about Kate's promotion but as with any interview and test, I do empathize that the decisionmaking tends to be: past performance is an indicator of future performance.

    One example from my past experience: I had an 8 hr a day worker who went for a promotion and gave me the same line. She was given the promotion and still has an 8 hr a day mentality. She does not do everything it takes to get the job done, she does everything it takes to fit the job to her hours.

    I see this pattern repeated across generations and personalities and in general, the people who volunteer and request to do some overtime to get the job done are the people who are going to be the ones who you can trust not to be 8-5ers. It's not facetime for me, it's simply whether or not you will make sure the job is done well, right, and on time. If you get it done early in less time because you figured out how to be more efficient, bravo.

    But the question is one of motivation to complete in my approach, rather than facetime.

    You're looking for the fire to finish, and you have to see that in a person before the time for promotion comes up, not at the time of the interview. Otherwise, you're just stating words and not verifiable facts.

  3. Webb,
    Thanks for your insights on getting an MBA. I think you’ve summed up their value perfectly. If I ever write a lessons learned summary I am including your advice.

    With my job I go from being bored to overwhelmed and frustrated. I agree with you though it is in my best interest to do everything I can to make sure I don’t lose it.

    Wow, you’ve got Kate pegged, or at least how her company perceives her. She once asked me when I work long hours or put in face time what I actually did during this time. (As if I made up things to do just to put in longer hours.) I’ve worked with her on committees for an organization where we both volunteer and she usually ends up doing most of the work (which she does while at her day job). I on the other hand barely have time to answer an email that is not work related. This leads me to believe she is under-employed for her skill set. There may also be a bit of rushing through work when she has something else she wants to do, because almost every accountant I know has to work long hours at some point during the year (think audits, month-end, year-end or the budget process).

    Sometimes you also have to look at the kind of experience you have. The positions she is seeking require manufacturing cost accounting experience and public accounting experience from one of the Big 4 firms neither of which she has. With the job market the way it is, companies can get the kind of experience they are looking for. Possibly in addition to putting in the face-time the males who are being promoted over her also have this experience.

    Thanks for your insight it was very perceptive.

  4. Found this site while browsing - Some of those stories are quite depressing! From my own experience, my colleagues became disillusioned not so much with being passed over for promotions or raises but by the fact that there weren't any incentives. In my former workplace, whether or not you work hard has no bearing on what your yearly raise will be. Everyone gets the same amount. So there's no reason to work hard!

    Personally, it was one of the reason why I changed fields - I wanted a place where I could be challenged and have at least a chance at achieving something. Hopefully some of the people you mentioned above will get another chance as well!

  5. CF@Outlier Model:

    Interesting comment. I just noticed this week almost all of the middle managers in our company make about the same. Our VP of operations and the manager whose department is the most profitable are quite upset about this. They both (with my coaching) asked for more money this week. Both were turned down. Talk about a kick in the pants. They feel why put in the extra effort when they aren't rewarded for it.

    What was your career change? Would love to hear more about it. What worked? What you wish you had known prior? Please come back and share.