Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Aint Got No Soul

Quitters don't win, but they do get to play golf.

By the end of today, I will either be unemployed again or I will be completely miserable because I refused once again ... I say this figuratively, so don't go panicking because I am an American and we are all alleged to own guns ... to "pull the trigger."

I finished the probationary period at the end of March. Up to that point I had heard very few complaints about my work. So we get to the last two hours of the last day of my Probezeit, and the Boss finally calls me in for the obligatory review. And the floodgates open. For nearly two hours I get an earful of everything I've done wrong for the last six months. I also hear for the first time that several pieces of work product I generated in those months were unusable (though they somehow did get used).

I was pissed off, because if I had heard this earlier in the day I would have drafted the resignation and ended our mutual suffering then and there. But Bozo does something that completely astounds me ... he slides my goals and objectives for the rest of the year across the table and asks me to agree to them.

If I had just had that kind of review with someone in America, it would have been accompanied with a check and best wishes for the next job. So I looked at him and slid the goals back and said, "Gee, it sounds like you've really had a bad experience with me for the past six months, and that really is a shame. If it's really been so bad, why are we still having this conversation? Why would you want to continue to put yourself through so much pain?"

This floors him. He was totally unprepared for that. He sheepishly replies that it hasn't been all negative and that this is a typical German approach to these reviews. This is a first for me, because I have had German bosses before. They were dark and moody sometimes, but they did try to keep a review somewhat balanced.

So I take it up the next business day with his boss. I didn't expect the review to change, but having now slipped into the day after the review I wanted to meke a point ... "If things are really this bad, wouldn't it be better for both of us if I were to go?"

"Oh no, nobody is talking about you leaving," he replies.

"Well I am. Life is short, and I'm getting older!"

He turned visibly white with that comment. He is less than one year older than I, but he easily looks 15 years older. He's not working for a lot more than I make now, and actually less than I made in my last company. To hear me say that I want to walk away from what he thinks is a good thing at such a late age in a german career really shocks him. But he continues, "No, you Americans take these things too literally if you get anything less than outstanding ratings. We simply want to point out places where you can grow."

Funnier still, I discreetly share lunch with a few colleagues and learn that this is the norm for the company's review process.


But just to recap and extend my remarks ... My boss has been non-approachable and on a few occastions hostile. My colleagues run around like scared rabbits and have been working from 8am to 9pm every night for the entire nine months I've been there, again doing what seems to be a lot of work for servicing the documentation assigned to them.

And I got 37 minutes of somewhat out of line dumping-on on Wednesday, followed with a demand for 33 more graphs that would take at least a day to produce accompanied with the highly inspirational, "I expect to have results by the end of the day, but I really don't expect that to happen." This is no Zig Ziglar I am working for.

But the cancellation of my bridge day on Friday cemented the issue. I may be looking at the moment for my self-respect (note to self, where did I last see it?), but these people ain't got no soul because they haven't taken one bridge day since I've known them ... what kind of self-respecting Europeans don't take bridge days?

That's when I decided it was time to go back to enjoying life.

The problem before me now is that my notice period is three momths to the end of the quarter, meaning that if I quit today I am technically on the hook until the end of September, and when ueber-Boss and I discussed the prospect of me leaving, he made it clear that they would expect me to fulfill the notice period if I left. Which is highly undesirable. I want to sleep in, play golf, and do some flying on sunny days, and in typically American fashion, I want it all now!

I realize this might seem like a real oddity for someone in Europe, but does anybody know any good labor lawyers to help someone get out of a job?


Blogger PapaScott said...

It sounds like your work is causing severe stress. You should probably take several weeks off. I'm sure you can find a doctor who agrees....

6:37 AM, May 18, 2007  
Blogger Haddock said...

I think Papascot is right - find the right doctor. I like your style with German management - Never left the wily Hun get the upper hand!

I once left a German company early. I basically gave my director & HR two choices

1. I work 6 weeks in my normal capacity and to the best of my ability

2. I become a loose cannon for 3 months

They took option 1 :)

btw - Your boss sounds like a complete and utter wanker! :)

8:38 AM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous ann said...

This is sounding sooo familiar. Good luck.

4:13 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Maribeth said...

Since I have only my German Grandfather and my experiences living with him to go by, I would say relax. Almost all German bosses are like that. (Papa was stern, but could be kind and I loved him)
Good luck.

5:00 PM, May 18, 2007  
Blogger Mike B said...

Papa: I don't normally get stress, I give it ... but I think I do feel a bout coming on ... thought it was the stomach flu.

Haddock: A real wanker ... I kind of hinted at the same two choices, but he really wants to hold me to the deal. Strange behaviour for someone who finds my work unacceptable ... maybe he just wants to torment me for a few more months, but it would be cheaper to hire a submissive full-time for that kind of role-play.

Ann: They usually do the "mobbing" when they want to get rid of someone, but sometimes they just do it because that is who they are.

Maribeth: I have had a couple of decent German bosses prior to this, but maybe they were the exception.

All: Thanks for the supportive comments.

9:59 PM, May 18, 2007  
Blogger C N Heidelberg said...

Oh, how awful...I would be incredibly pissed to have a review like that if no one had ever told me before that they thought I was doing less than a fine job. (Actually, I had a review nowhere near like this one year in the US, where they brought up just one complaint that I never heard before - and was incredibly pissed even just about that.) I don't know anything about your options, but wish you good luck!

2:45 PM, May 25, 2007  

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