Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mixed Feelings about Moving On

I always thought that when I retired, I would go out in a blaze of glory amid profuse thanks from everyone around me. It looks like that just might not be the case. My escalating “job wars” are pointing me to the door with a handful of people probably ready to say “Good riddance.”

Before I slink away with my tail between my legs, I decided to make one last effort to have a reasonable logical discussion with someone in authority – my boss’s boss. It strikes me that this rather like appealing to your grandmother when your parents disagree with you. I actually advised my boss that I was going to do this, so she would at least know that I was going around her.

This whole weekend I have been drafting a mental e-mail message to the big boss. This seems to happen when I lie down to go to sleep or when I wake up in the middle of the night. Here’s the gist of it:

“I am seriously considering retiring because several important processing decisions which go against my better judgment have been made. They affect efficiency, cost, time, and perhaps even data quality.

I have devoted the last 13 years of my working life to assuring the excellence of the (survey name) processing system. I can't bear to see that excellence threatened. Furthermore I can't bear to feel unhappy and frustrated in my job.

I would like a chance to discuss this with you, with or without (my boss) present. Please let me know your availability.”

(Interestingly enough, there is at least one data user who reads this Blog and can attest to the high quality of the data I produce. She has been most supportive of my efforts to do things correctly.)

Somehow just writing this down made me feel better. I wonder if the big boss will make time for me in her busy schedule. I wonder how she will react. She comes from the same background that I do. In fact my husband hired her straight out of college a long time ago. So she is just a few years younger than I am. She is smart and well-respected within the agency and within the Federal government.

After chewing on this for a while, then I go on to thinking about just how I plan to leave, to say goodbye to a place I’ve called “work” for the past 35 years.

I used to think I would retire in the summer. If that were the case, I had envisioned a huge pot-luck outdoor picnic with everyone’s favorite recipe and Frisbees flying. I just wanted a chance to informally talk to people and reminisce.

But with this latest round of arguments, I want to closely control who comes to any function and I probably don’t want a group of more than 10 people at a time. So I’m thinking a series of brown-bag lunches – invitation only. There are certain people that will never be invited to one of these affairs, probably by their choice and definitely by mine.

Despite the fact that I may not leave among a sea of hugs, I am getting excited when I think this may actually happen. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the ass to set out heads and feet in motion. I think I’m finally movin’ on!


Anonymous David said...

I think you'll get plenty of hugs from the people you respect and who respect you. You'll be missed.

11:39 AM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Good luck! If you want to send the big boss an email just to meet, do you really need to telegraph the important info. about what the meeting is specifically about?

12:55 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

David -- It's starting not even to matter so much.

MediaConcepts -- I included the hint of the nature of the meeting because the mention of those kinds of problems will indeed assure me of a face-to-face meeting with her, whereas if she thought it was simply a courtesy exit interview, it might not happen. Should be an interesting encounter especially if my immediate boss is present.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Well, I won't give you a swift kick, but I will tell you again that I think you are ready to retire. You'll love it! I can see it will enable you to enjoy all the neat new things that will be open to you!

1:35 PM  
Blogger Golden Silence said...

Best of luck in this situation.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- I agree.

GoldenSilence -- Thanks, I may need it!

2:08 PM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

When I left my last place, I invited the people who I knew I would miss working with out for a happy hour. Because it does matter. We all pledged only to talk about the things we had enjoyed sharing at work, and it was a really good time.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ulysses -- What a great idea! I'm always more at ease and sociable with a glass of wine in my hand. Can you send me an e-mail ( with the specifics of how you pulled this off? Did you reserve a room in a restaurant or bar? How many people?

5:19 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I would imagine that leaving any job comes with mixed feelings, whether through retirement or just changing jobs.

I am sorry that this job has been such a constant source of heartache over the past several months. I hope that as you move into the next stage of life that you forget the strife and remember how much you've enjoyed the job.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I intend to do exactly as you said. There is so much more good to remember than the bad. Unfortunately it is the bad that is sticking in my craw right now.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I gave up illusions of being a valued employee a few years after I started working. I realized that I was just adron e among many drones.

I hope there are those around you who will take the time to honour and dignify you with a well deserved farewell.

As for writing a letter to your boss' boss ... why not? If it was me, I would be stronger in my language: “I am considering retiring because several important processing decisions going against my better judgment have been made. They detrimentally affect efficiency, cost, time, and, quite probably, data quality.

I have dedicated [or committed] the last 13 years to assuring the excellence of the (survey name) processing system. I cannot stand by and see that excellence jeoparized. Furthermore, I cannot continue in my job if it leaves me feeling unhappy and frustrated.

I would like to discuss this important matter with you, with or without (my boss) present. Wednesday, 28-February-2007 at 10:00 AM is a good time for me.”

You want to finish by specifying a date and time. Why? Because it is specific and the response you get back is likely to be specific (rather than vague or general). Even if this date / time is not good for him / her, (s)he is likely to respond with a specific date.

10:56 PM  

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