Work secrets not passed down

GeoHorn

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May 18, 2018
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It was three years, one hour and twenty-seven minutes ago that I retired. Today my wife and I spent some time talking about what we missed about work. For me it was simple. I miss the paycheque. And NOTHING else.

My employer had been purchased by an American firm and that began the race to the bottom, the race to find the lowest common denominator in the treatment of employees. We learned that the big bosses were all-knowing and infallible, and that any advice we had, advice that came from decades of learning on the job, well, that advise we had better keep to ourselves because it was just plain wrong. If it didn't come from the high-dollar mucky-mucks from the US parent company then it wasn't worth having. My long-tenure colleagues and I would look at each other in meetings and roll our eyes, knowing the latest announcement being made or the latest "this is how we do things" lecture would end in disaster, as it invariably did. When these "big ideas" failed, they failed because we low-life salary guys didn't work hard enough to implement the bad idea. Like 60+ hour weeks represented not working hard enough.

When I left I was gentlemanly; by industry standard I should have given two week's notice of my retirement but instead, out of a sense of respect for my direct manager, I gave two month's notice. More than enough time to hire a new person to replace me and for me to train them prior to my departure. Two years after my departure the hiring requisition to replace me was still sitting on the company president's desk, unsigned.

As long as we continue to actively devalue the contributions of employees, especially long-tenure people who literally built the business, "working for a living" is going to be unrewarding, at best. As long as we devalue long-tenure employees, those folks who know how the business runs will quietly hold their hard-won knowledge to themselves. Employers who treat their long-tenure employees like liabilities that have to be shed as quickly as possible will learn, painfully and slowly, the real business value of the guy they just encouraged to walk out the door.

As for my last employer, good bye and good riddance.

Now it's time for a nice glass of wine and some homemade bread before I go out and cook steaks on the Kamado Joe. Yeah, retirement isn't such a bad gig at all!
I agree with you and see your point…. but…Ironically, If they have done without a replacement for you for Two Years…. You’re lucky they didn’t take advantage of you during the Two Months notice you gave them. They might have “dumped’ you earlier than you’d planned-for.

(U.S. companies are not the only rapists in the world…but we do seem to have a larger share of them.)
 

lugbolt

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Oct 15, 2015
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I had a great employer. 26 years of them. He retired apr 2018 and from then until Oct 2020, was an absolute mess. Corporate. Investment firm, who bought a bunch of kubota dealers. They hired a friend of theirs to run the store, and I knew of him when he ran a JD dealer, whom one of my former coworked worked for for a few years, so I knew of the GM. And I knew exactly what to expect. Told 10 of my coworkers what to expect and 9 of them blew it off "you're full of it". Guess what? 9 of those same coworkers quit/left because of the GM, and the 2 of us who stayed, were miserable for 2 1/2 years. In oct I said no more, put in my 2 weeks and left, have NOT looked back.

What work "secrets" Did I take? None. I'm one of those, if I have knowledge and a coworker can benefit from that knowledge, I'm gonna share as much of it as possible. Almost 29 years of knowledge, I left a lot of it with the guy who'd been there 9 years at the time, and not long after I left and settled in as a fishing guide, he calls me up and says "thanks". That meant a lot to me. Boss asked me to train a replacement and I told him I already did. Besides teaching 30 years of knowledge in 10 business days is not possible. I didn't tell him no, I just told him I'd do my best and that my replacement was already workin there.

So today I'm reading about the statistics of "the great resignation", that something like 38% of those who resigned had second thoughts about it. Well, I don't. It was a move that was completely positive in all aspects and none more important than my own health. Prior workplace was unhealthy and toxic. Mentally AND physically, and I was done with it. I personally have no regrets thus far, but my financial situation is such that if this job disappeared tomorrow, I'm ok with it as I can still survive. Ain't rich, never will be, but comfortable and that is all that I have ever asked for.
 
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fried1765

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Nov 14, 2019
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I was fortunate to work for a good employer. Gave them 6 months notice. Retired from a larger electrical and HVAC construction firm at the end of September 2021. Started there in 1973 as a journeyman electrician and had all sorts of opportunities and challenges. After being there for about a year, I was running electrical projects (big schools, the new county courthouse, etc.) Later I managed a fair amount of mechanical work (prisons, pharmaceuticals, hospitals) and even some GC stuff.

When I was around 60 I got tired of the driving and dealing with some of the goofy customers. Driving between one and two hours each way wasn't uncommon. Except for a brief stint near Pittsburgh in the mid-80's (I'd bet Skeets knows where Ambridge is) there was no away from home work. The position of facilities manager opened up, so I took that and spent the last dozen-ish years there managing the shops, doing some CADD and oddball tool design for our rail division, renting and buying equipment and enjoying life in general. We had fab shops for electrical, piping, some sheet metal and a little precast concrete.

As a tinkerer it was great to have all sorts of tools and materials to play with as desired. Nobody cared if I spent an afternoon here and there getting tips from our in-house weldors or whatever. I was able to take the L3200 there and use the shop (and get some assistance) for a couple months to build a cab. Heck, the company rollback even transported it.

Left on good terms, and they still take care of me if I need a little steel, some pipe, wire or tools. There's a group us retirees (five currently) who have a monthly breakfast to keep in touch with each other.
My company had 50,000 employees, and we endured 5 strikes during my 33 years there.
Management was always confrontational, but my particular working group (several thousand) did not require much direct management contact.
I have been retired for 22 years, and my friends from working days still conduct a Spring lunch in Florida every year.
Numbers have been steadily declning (we are nearly all over 80), but this year we are still expecting over 60 to attend.
 
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mcmxi

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I've experienced this from both ends of the spectrum.

Four years ago at a company I was working for I identified a cost savings potential, and within a week or so had a solution implemented that saved the company over $100k per year, every year. There was no tooling or associated cost required since I negotiated the use of existing tooling owned by a customer of a vendor that we used. The customer would see a cost savings because the quantities being run once the tooling was set up were significantly greater thereby reducing the part cost to the owner of the tooling. I didn't receive an email from the owner of the company I worked for expressing thanks. No phone call, no bonus, not even a thanks for the CEO, CFO or anyone for that matter. I was aware of other significant cost savings initiatives but had no intention of sharing them with anyone after that experience. I've learned to keep my mouth shut when it comes to sharing good ideas.

At the other end of the spectrum, I worked for Hawaiian Electric Co., as an engineering intern for 18 months in 1999 and 2000, and my "project" was to bring boiler maintenance into the 21st Century with software, digital images, a database etc. The chief engineer responsible for boilers was Ed Chang and it was clear from the very beginning that he had no intention of helping me be successful. Utility companies fear and despise unplanned downtime or outages for equipment, and particularly boilers which are 10 stories high and are responsible for converting the working fluid from liquid to gas to spin a turbine.

Boilers are a maintenance nightmare both in terms of the firebox and the working fluid. Failures of the piping is common despite exotic alloys, particularly as the boilers get older and chemistry is critical for the working fluid which is often water. Consultants told us that they'd never seen boilers in such a bad state, other than in the Soviet Union! The database I was to construct and populate would enable almost anyone to generate reports on issues, review scheduled maintenance, history, analysis, repairs, work orders and so on, but the Ed Changs at HECO had other ideas. They'd been with HECO for decades and their plan was to retire with a good pension and then be hired back as consultants making two or three times as much as they made as full-time employees. It was a frustrating and lonely time heading to a power plant for a meeting but knowing that it was a complete waste of time.

Ultimately I realized that HECO had an abundance of very bright engineers, and despite being offered a position on completion of my BS in Mechanical Engineering, I declined the offer and completed a Masters in Mechanical Engineering instead, which didn't sit well with some of the higher ups at HECO. I knew that I wouldn't be happy working at HECO and frankly was intimidated by the engineers there since every one of them was incredibly smart, and much brighter than me. I was an experienced commercial diver and welder and bought a lot to the table in terms of practical application in the field, but I was never at their level in terms of pure academics. HECO and HELCO has major problems resulting from mismanagement and a failing infrastructure. I got to work with a few of the engineers at HECO during and after my Masters program in efforts to understand and mitigate the horrendous corrosion problems they faced and continue to face.
 
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