Posted by: Mark Sorenson | February 20, 2009

Job Chaos

I used to work for a marketing company who markets pest control. I managed a door-to-door sales team that would go out during the summer and knock doors selling pest control to homeowners. I worked for them for three years. I was their most loyal employee. I felt like I was being taken care of and I worked hard for them. In the recent few months, this company has taken a turn for the worst. In fact, I would say they are in an all out nose dive to disaster.

This happened as a result of being leveraged out way too much and getting hit by the financial crisis. To make this long story short, I’ll just say that they had to liquidate a large part of their business and start from scratch. They didn’t know which direction they wanted to go, so when the stuff hit the fan, all hell broke loose.

The owners couldn’t agree on a direction to take the company, but instead of tell all of its employees the truth, they told us that everything was under control and fine. They proceeded to hire employees and promise them a certain compensation plan based on business deals and relationships that weren’t finalized. They hoped that in the end, they could land one of these deals to market for somebody without loosing face with the employees. Well the opposite happened.

As their story/game plan changed (literally every day), we lost more and more confidence in the company. Instead of tell us to “be patient while they figure things out and that no matter what they are going to do whats best for everyone,” they said, “this is the plan. No wait, this is the plan. No, that’s not the plan anymore, this is.” Etc. Since almost everyone is payed on commission only, there is a lot riding on how well the company can take care of business so that we could sell. As time went on, it became apparent that the leadership and unity of the owners had all but dissolved. In fact two of the owners of the company left and tried to take a lot of people with them. The remaining owners trusted that the loyalty of their employees would be enough to keep everyone from leaving.

Because I am a trusting and loyal person, I took all of this with a grain of salt, for a while, and tried to remain optimistic. My optimism began to fade as upper management seemed to play all sides of the table and put lower management in a position where we couldn’t win.

Ever since, I have been looking for a new company to manage for. Not surprising to me, I found one, and this new company has been able to meet all of my needs and more.

The lesson here is that no matter how loyal your employees may be, that loyalty will not keep them from jumping ship when the going gets rough if you don’t treat them with respect and appreciation.

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