Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You don`t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps

posted Mon, 20 Jun 2005

What would you do if not one, not two, but three people at a company told you not to accept a job offer from that company? Wouldn’t that be a pretty good sign that said company is not a good place to work?

About two months ago, a young woman, “Lucy,” called me. She had gotten my name from the Rice alumni association. About to get her MBA from Rice, she was interviewing for jobs. She had an interview with my company, which we will call “Consolidated Buggy Whips.” What is the corporate culture like, she wanted to know. I told her she should only come to work here if she had no other offers.

Last week, Lucy called again. My company had indeed made her an offer. So had EDS. What to do, what to do.

I yelled to a colleague: “Hey, Jack! I’ve got a woman on the phone from my college who has an offer from us and from EDS. She wants to know which offer to take.”

His voice floated over the cubicle walls. “Even if EDS is offering 15% lower salary, she should take the EDS job.”

“Did you hear that?” I asked. “Take the EDS offer”

“But it’s a field office job,” she protested.

“Field office jobs are always more fun than corporate jobs,” I replied.

“They want me to lead a team of people. With Consolidated Buggy Whips, I would get to work for some directors. I would learn from them.”

“Let me get this straight. You would rather not have the opportunity to lead people? Because you will always have someone to report to.”

By now, Jack and Stan, who also spoke to Lucy before her interview to tell her about the Chinese community in M’town, have both come over to my desk. They are fascinated that this woman is arguing about coming to work for a company where two people have already told her it’s a bad idea.

“Lucy. EDS sells ideas and problem solving. There will always be a market for that. Consolidated Buggy Whips sells – buggy whips. Do you know what is happening to the market for buggy whips worldwide? It’s shrinking. And it’s not like our factories can be converted over to something else. We are set up to make buggy whips. Period. That’s what we make. That’s the only thing we can make. And no one wants buggy whips anymore. Last Friday, every single person in my building except the ten people on my team lost his job.”

Stan said, “Don’t take the job, Lucy.”

She gasped. “Consolidated has had layoffs?”

“Oh honey. Four rounds in the past five years. Including here at corporate.”

“But nobody said anything about it at the interview.”

“Of course they didn’t! An interview is like dating. I know you’re married and it’s been a while since you’ve been on a date, but in an interview, they will say anything to get you into bed. After that, well, you know.”

“But I liked the people I interviewed with.”

By now, I am getting really exasperated. Maybe Lucy deserves to work here.

“Lucy. I am going to show you one last piece of evidence, OK? Let’s compare stock performance. First, let’s check Consolidated’s stock price over the past 12 months. Let me get to the CNN website. Oh, look! It’s dropped 25%! Yes, that’s a sign of a company with a great future.

“Now let’s look at EDS’s performance. Hmm. Not stellar, but it hasn’t dropped. It’s actually gone up about 10%.”

“Which company would you invest money in? Which one would you invest you in?”

She still argued with me that she should take the job with my company. I’ll bet she does, too.

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