Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Call To All Turtles

It's been 7 months since I started the Turtles at Work blog and it's been a fun ride so far. I've received a lot of great comments and hopefully helped some folks realize that there are others out there that have problems with idiotic bosses, poor work environments, etc. Hopefully I've helped some of you through some tough times and maybe even made you laugh about some of my weird experiences as a Turtle at Work.

In trying to build Turtles at Work, I need some help from my fellow Turtles. I have a challenge for all of you who frequent Turtles at Work. I need help in spreading the word about this blog. If you have friends, family, or anyone who you think would be interested in reading this blog, spread the word either in email or word of mouth. Unfortunately, as you have read, I'm completely broke so I can't award any prizes for what I am asking. Sorry : (. Hopefully though you'll take the challenge and help the good ole Turtle King out. The larger readership I can build the more I can enhance the site and offer more features, content, etc. In order to do that I need more readers like you!

I'll have some more interesting posts and welcome any feedback or ideas on what you'd like to hear about. You can leave me a comment below or email me at Thank you all for your support.

Turtle King

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sequence of Events

My company has no strategy, a mission statement that doesn't really make sense and a executive staff that is comprised of 60+ year old, overpaid lumps. When it comes to actually making decisions or improvements everything moves at a snail's pace. However there are a few things my company executes with precision. There are 3 events that somehow always come together, on time, quickly and in exact sequence. These 3 events are, in order:

1. United Way "guilt meetings"
2. Pay Increases (if you want to call them that)
3. Benefit Open Enrollment

Basically we start with mandatory United Way meetings, which I refer to as "Guilt Meetings". You have to sit through 1 to 2 hours of hearing about sob stories and watching videos. I don't want to sound heartless because I do feel bad for the children and people that are impacted by the United Way. I just resent the fact that these meeting are mandatory and that I'm felt that I have to give or I'm considered a bad person. Then you have these rumor spreaders that comment about how our president personally looks at the list of United Way contributions to see who did and didn't give. My company treats the employees, including myself, like shit on a daily basis, if anyone needs help it's us.

The next event that directly follows the United Way "guilt meetings" is the announcement of pay increases. My company is shrewd in that they wait til you have already pledged an amount to the United Way, and only after that timeframe the pay increases are announced. This year my increase was 1.2%, which is incredibly poor. It amounts to about $14 per week. My boss is emotionless as he gives me the increase and doesn't even thank me for my effort.

And finally the benefits enrollment period. This follows the pay increase announcement and is a time in which all employees learn how my company is again going to jack up the cost of benefits. Usually something like eye care or dental care takes a real hit as we get a new provider that no doctor in the area accepts. The increase this year was a total of $18 additional deducted per week to pay for health care.

So if you look at this sequence of events you can see why my company is incredibly good at executing these things perfectly and it's all about screwing the employees. First you give to the United Way, let's say $5 a week. Then you get your pay increase $14 per week. Then the benefits enrollment increase results in employee payments of $18 more per week. So when you do the math salary goes up $14 per week, but after deducting United Way and benefits increase you actually are making $9 per week less this year as compared to last year. Isn't that just perfect.

Now I don't believe in all the guilt crap my company gives on the United Way so I don't give a penny. But regardless I'm still making less this year than last because our benefits go up. It's just another example of how my idiotic company screws employees, reduces morale and performance. If you know you are going to get screwed like this, then being a Turtle at Work is the only option. It's not easy to deal with, but until you can escape to a company that actually cares about employees, you just have to suck it up, and hide within the shell!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Second Guessed!

One of the greatest flaws I have to deal with at my current company is our organizational structure. It's a typical hierarchical structure that makes it near impossible to get things done. You have to go through several layers of approval that even something as simple as buying office supplies for your department is an adventure. As a middle manager at my company, when I do actually make a decision and try to avoid the approval traffic jam I get second guessed. Actually I get third, fourth and fifth guessed most of the time as other department heads feel the need to add their opinion because of the political nature of my company.

Recently I made a hiring decision for a position that took 2 years for approval. Basically I had suggested a position be created based on a business need. I had done research and a return on investment analysis to show that the position was needed. Finally after 2 years I hear it is ok to go ahead with hiring for the position. The position gets posted and I begin my interview process. Unlike most of the idiots at my company, I actually have a formal interview form that is designed to link interview questions to key competencies required for a given position. I have been very successful in hiring quality candidates as a result. I go through several interviews, updating my superiors along the way, until I finally make a decision for hire. I submit the decision to HR and an offer is made an accepted (enter the 2nd guessing).

I update my superiors on my hiring decision and am immediately barraged with questions on why I hired who I hired. The one big shot actually began to huff at me and threw out the F bomb a few times, acting like my 3 year old. Now, these guys knew I was interviewing yet took zero interest in being involved. I make a decision and hire someone and get all kinds of theatrics. "Why me" I think to myself as I have to hear big shot after big shot criticize me, without reason, for my decision. As a Turtle I do what I know best. I basically remain silent and take the punishment from these idiots. If I speak up, it will only fuel their criticism further and prolong the agony.

Lesson from the Turtle King: You Can't Get Second Guessed If You Don't Make Decisions

I realized that by making a decision I have gone outside the shell. I should have interviewed but deferred my decision back to the big shots so that they could argue (probably for months) over who to hire. Finally, my recommendation for this position came when I was still a wolf (high performer). Now that I'm a Turtle I should have stated that I didn't think the position was needed any longer, which again would have been "laying low" like the Turtle I am.

If you are at a company that is completely hierarchical, with log jam decision making, being a Turtle is the best way to cope. Why get caught up in the decision process when you can avoid making decisions like everyone else. If you do try and make decisions you'll probably get second, third, and fourth guessed like I did. It's just not worth it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Barrage Them With Bullshit

I talk to many people over the course of my day at work. Some people I enjoy to chat with, while others I avoid like the plague. Today as I was walking through the hallway and came across one of our maintenance guys named Doug. Doug is an older guy, probably around 60 years old. He's been with our company for around 25 years and knows how idiotic things can be. He's a veteran Turtles at Work and understands and lives by the Turtle philosophy without even knowing about the Turtles at Work blog.

Doug always gives me nuggets of advice. Today, he came up with an all time classic. I was telling Doug about how hard I used to try and how detailed I am in my work, yet it is constantly overlooked and ignored. Doug turned to me and said "Turtle (inserted for my real name), if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, barrage them with bullshit." Spoken like a true Turtle at Work.

The big shots above me don't want to hear about real problems or see in depth analysis. They want to hear, what Doug refers to as "bullshit". It's easy for the top dogs to understand because they lack any depth and utilize bullshit themselves to stay on top. I caught my boss once in a meeting explaining something in bullshiteese (bullshit language of top executives) to other big shots and our President. He was completely off in his explanation and I was amazed that the other big shots just took what he was saying and moved on. They asked no questions or clarification, just let him go.

There is much to be learned as a Turtle in the above. If the big shots above you are going to use bullshit to stay on top, then you must use bullshit to lay low like the Turtle at Work you are. You know your boss will not follow-up on what you are saying so as Doug says "barrage them with bullshit". It's worked for him and it can work for other Turtles out there as well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does Your Company Fail the Grade?

Recently I was contacted by a recruiter conerning a position. I was very excited by the contact and the chance to escape from the dungeon (my current company). I spoke with the recruiter for about an hour as he filled me in on the position and company that he was trying to fill a position for. I was very encouraged and am awaiting word back on next steps.

The recruiter gave me his website and encouraged me to review his background and the site overall. In looking over the recruiter's site I found that he publishes a newsletter with some pretty good content. I came across one of his articles in which he talks about the type of company you work for and translates the types into "grades". I thought I'd share the following with all you Turtles as I thought it was very worth while and thought provoking:

What Grade is Your Company?
"Grade A and B companies generally want upwardly mobile people. Grade C companies want people who can perform a specific task adequately. Grade D companies want the cheapest person they can find. Look around you and decide where you are and what you want to be. The earlier in your career you recognize it the easier it is to change."

I, like many of you are stuck in a Grade D company. They want the world, but pay pennies. When your stuck with a Grade D company you are going to become a Turtle eventually because D companies don't want high performers, they want warm bodies. Grade D companies generally are going to pay the upper echelon big shots way to much and the people who actually make the company run way to little. It's a reality that I experience day in and day out. If you are with a Grade D company, take the recruiters advice and make a change. I can only hope this recruiter can hook me up with the Grade A company he is recruiting for. Unfortunately if that happens I have to hang it up as a Turtle at Work and go back to being a Wolf. We'll see!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The New Guy

There is usually excitement surrounding the start of a new job. You accept a position at a company and feel liberated and pumped at the possibilities you will encounter as you start. We've all been there and it's a great feeling. But soon that feeling turns sour as you realize the political bullshit you have to deal with, the nitpicking boss you have and the annoying co-workers you are stuck with. Your once promising attitude sours over time as these burdens weigh on you and...turn you into a Turtle at Work

This week we were welcomed by a "New Guy" in our department. The "New Guy" entered our department all smiles and cliches. He shook everyone's hand and mentioned that "he's looking to make an impact!" Everyone in the group gave the fake smile, and you could almost see what everyone was thinking. We all had the "this was once me...poor bastard doesn't even know what he got himself into does he?" look on our faces.

As a Turtle at Work there are a couple things that you just don't do when dealing with the "New Guy". You may feel bad for him and try and tell him how bad things are. Don't do it! Turtles aren't like Wolves. We're not pack animals..we keep to ourselves and lay low. If you try and be helpful you are at risk. What if the "New Guy" is a snitch or a work mole for your idiot boss. Also don't try to be helpful to the "New Guy" by telling him the ins and outs of the company. Did anyone help you when you started..probably not. Usually the "New Guy" will be filled with positivity and will tell everyone how helpful you are. Next thing you know others are coming to you for help. are a don't need the attention!

Don't try to be a hero. You're a Turtle at Work! Let the "New Guy" be the hero. He'll learn soon enough that your company sucks, he doesn't need your help to figure that out!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What Makes People Tick?

I have realized one glaring flaw in all the big shots that have managed to turn me from a high performing employee to a Turtle at Work. They don't understand the human element! What do I mean by the human element you ask? In short, it's what makes people tick and what drives each individual.

Let's face it, most people really don't want to work. How do I know this? Take a look at the number of people who play the lottery each week. People don't want to work for the most part, but they have to. Why? To support a family or lifestyle that they like. To do things outside of work that bring enrichment and happiness. Now I know there are those chosen few who wake up and just love what they do and wouldn't trade if for the world. Bravo to you, you are the .001% of people who feel that way. The other 99.999% must grind it out at a job that is not full filling to them, but pays the bills.

But back to what makes people tick. One of the most important factors of leadership is understanding people and what drives them. You'll hear the saying "leave your emotions or home life at the door" when you come into work. This statement was made by one of the moron big shots that just doesn't get it. We are human beings damn it! When there are situations going on in your life it is impossible for most to separate work from home.

I've had employees that were high performers and suddenly their performance began to drop. As a leader that understands the "human factor" I understand that behavior is driven from a root cause. Great employees just don't suddenly become horrible. There is a reason for this change in behavior and it's the job of the leader to identify it and help the employee get back on track. When I have had this situation I have talked to the employee to try to get to the root cause and then worked with them and tried to help them. Basically I cared about these people as individuals, tried to understand what was going on, tried to help and as a result got them back on track. If you care about the individual the worker will emerge and be better.

The clueless manager will not handle the situation this way. The manager that does not understand the "human factor" just sees an under-performing worker that needs to be disciplined. They'll call the employee in and issue a warning or discipline and feel great about what they've done. Meanwhile the employee feels like their manager does care about them, and continues to spiral downwards. Eventually the employee is probably disciplined further, demoted or fired. It doesn't have to end like that if the manager understands people.

We are all humans (except for those few aliens living amongst us...LOL) . Far to often poor managers forget that fact and overlook what really drives people. A good manager understands what makes a person tick and tries to get to the root cause of behavior changes that impact performance. We all have problems outside of work that influence us at work. I just wish some of the clueless morons I report to would realize this. They don't and probably never will, which is why I'm a Turtle at Work instead of a Wolf.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's Not Easy

Aside from posting on the Turtles at Work blog, I tend to visit message boards like and post some comments from time to time. Frequently I receive post responses or emails from people with the advice "you should find a new job". They are right, of course, but it's not that easy, if it were I would no longer be unhappy because I would be at my "new job". Let me illustrate for all the happy advice givers, why getting a "new job" is not easy:

  1. Job Sites Suck. Job sites like and very rarely show you the job you are searching for. So for example, if I type "Director of Operations" in Monster and click "search" the first 5 relevant jobs that come up are: Independent Insurance Agent, Financial Sales/Investment Consultant, RN Supervisor, Registered Nurse, and Account Manager - Commercial Accounts. How the hell are any of these related to the job title I'm looking for? Answer??? They're not. When I try other job titles or keywords the same thing happens. Maybe Monster and other sites should focus less on commercials and more on programming their job search to come up with relevant jobs.
  2. Companies Suck. When you do eventually find a job that matches your search criteria you are amazed. You review the responsibilities and requirements of the job and find that you match up very closely. You apply feeling like you have a great shot. Then weeks go by with no response. I realize companies get tons of applicants, but you can purchase programs that auto-generate a response. At least give people the common courtesy of knowing the resume they sent was received. But...that's why companies suck and their HR departments also suck!
  3. Recruiters Suck. Many (not all) of recruiters out there are vultures. They find your resume and hover over you. You are their meal ticket and they don't want to lose you to another vulture. You hear from them 2 or 3 times a day, then suddenly nothing. You try to contact them, no response. They've found another, better meal ticket and your history.

It's not easy finding another job. It is easy though for others to just throw out advice to "get a new job". That's why those people suck too! Until you do find another job though, stay within the shell!

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