Thursday, December 7, 2006

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (Turn and Face the Strain)

I don't handle change especially well anymore. My evil global biotech company has a major shift in management or programs every six months to a year. In about 7 ½ years here I have had five direct supervisors and three indirect supervisors. One employee, who works in another department, has had eight bosses in two years. Ouch. In the eternal words of The Who, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

I remember a company-wide meeting over a year ago when the guy in charge of Global R&D at my company came to my site and gave a pep-talk to me and the other scientists. He said something to the effect of, "You have to have a sense of urgency. Keep changing. Keep on the razor's edge." He continued by discussing how that mentality affects career options. "You have to push yourself to learn more. Fight for that promotion. Your role will change with the company."

Okay, I agree to a point. Things shouldn't get stagnant in a field that is always changing. Always being one to stir the coals, I dared to raise my hand anyway. "Each change brings a degree of chaos that slows productivity and lowers morale," I said. "We've had three company-wide shifts in management in the last year. Doesn't it make sense to have periods of stability to improve productivity? And if I am good at what I do and enjoy it, doesn't it make sense for me to remain where I am?" Mr. Global R&D just looked at me and stuttered, blinked, then composed himself and tried to reiterate his message. No doubt he was thinking, "This stupid lab rat just doesn't understand. He must not be a Ph.D." I wonder if he learned my name, jotting down a mental note to punish me somehow for my insolence. I didn't get promoted again this year. Coincidence? Probably. I'm too low on the dog pile to get noticed by the likes of him.

It wasn't but a few months after Mr. Global R&D visited that we had another one of those massive shifts in site-wide program management, in early 2006, and I got a new boss. A massive restructure happened to the Business and Marketing side of our company a week ago. Another one is likely to happen to R&D in a few months. Sigh. I wonder who my next boss will be.

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