Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stand By Your Phone

It's been another busy week (and weekend) for me and Mr KE. It was an eventful week at work for me, starting with another Monday morning announcement about the company's "resilience plan" for the expected downturn.

We were told that we were all at risk (including Directors) and that we had all been assessed and ranked according to performance. We were given a breakdown of numbers for people who were at risk - i.e. 3 Directors, 4 Grade XXX, 3 Grade YYY etc. There an explanation of the standard legal procedure i.e. that anyone at risk would be called in and HR would try to find them a position in another part of the company or another part of the world. If this was unsuccessful, then it would mean redundancy.

Everyone was asked to be available from 1pm onwards on Friday afternoon. So stand by your phone....for bad news.

I work in a satellite office, so we were away from the "hub" and tried to find some humour in the situation. We were even joking about calling people at 1 o'clock to scare each other. Anyway, while we were laughing about it - when suddenly my phone started was 1 o'clock....and I could see from the number that it was the Business Unit Director (i.e. the person who would be making the dreaded calls)........OMG!!!

Everyone in the office stopped laughing... and for a minute, I thought the worst!! But to cut a long story short - he was calling me to ask about a contract I was working on. Everyone around me was listening intently, so I had to shout out - it's OK folks, he's only calling about XXX! Not being big-headed, but I never really thought I would be at risk anyway.... but took a while for my heartbeat to return to normal.

Ack! How insensitive, huh?? Anyway, the process was delayed and the calls only began at 2:30 because the HR representative was late coming back from another office. I thought that was pretty cruel, as everyone was basically waiting to hear if their jobs were safe.

Someone from our satellite office was made redundant - from the same Grade as me. In fact, there were 3 names from my Grade, and they were all in about the same age late forties / mid 50s (I think). It's not nice when anyone is told "you are weakest link, goodbye" but from an Asian perspective, I'm glad that the assessement was based on performance rather than age/experience, if you see what I mean.

I think in Asia, the idea that seniority is based on age is so ingrained that a person in their fifties would never be made redundant over someone in their early thirties. As someone said to me once, there's no point having twenty five years experience when it actually means one year's experience X 25.

So, *phew* and back to work.

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