My life as a Corporate Clean Up artist

Many moons ago I worked for a Savings and Loan, that’s no longer in business. They didn’t make it through 2008.

I grew up there, you might say. I started right out of college as a Manager Trainee.

After a couple of years, I was labeled by my manager as (and I quote) “unconsciously competent”. I didn’t realize at the time how that label would haunt me. I must have been unconscious and doing something competent. I don’t know. It was a weird label.

I became a Branch Manager. Then I was lured away to the lending department as a loan officer, then I became a District Manager, a Trainer, and then……it happened.

I started getting transferred from District to District for the dreaded Corrective Action for employees not meeting minimum production standards.

Because in banking, if you aren’t measuring it, reporting on it, or meeting about it, you have to be producing it. And we had folks that weren’t producing, and managers who couldn’t manage the non-producers out the door. So someone had the brilliant idea to let me handle it.

For 3 years I moved from office to office. After the 2nd transfer, people caught on that I was being brought in to fire people. I developed an eye-twitch, I drank to excess, and I would have horrible nightmares. I realized at the age of 32 that I would rather be liked than be in charge.

I was 32, a young mom, very cute, and people were afraid of me. I was promised that if I would clean up the Texas Districts I could name my assignment. That didn’t happen, and I ended up resigning.

It’s a difficult job firing people for a living. Don’t get me wrong, it really had to be done, but mostly because the non-producers shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. When I suggested that the hiring managers could clean up their own mess, or I maybe I should focus on the hiring managers my peers turned on me. Politically Correct I am not. And I wasn’t very happy being the maid service for those who were not competent in any state of consciousness, and were not being held to the same standard I was being held.

I fired, or accepted resignations from 23 people across 6 districts in 3 years. In all that time, no one made it through to produce. It is never easy, but the more I had to go through the motions I had to marvel at people who were not really working, not trying, not really understanding their jobs, and not making commissions! They tried so desperately to hold onto those jobs. 120 day corrective action cycle usually could be wrapped up in 90 days. (Unconsciously Competent….see the pattern). After my second transfer, I had three people just resign and leave when I scheduled our initial meeting.

Today, I am grateful that I’m not in charge of anything except managing my accounts, and sending in 1 weekly report to the partners of my firm.

When I look back on some of the ridiculous things that had to be done in my career, I’m so grateful not to be in banking anymore or in charge. I think my eye twitch would come back if I had to be in charge.

Sorry about the typo at the bottom. That Meme writer is Fired!

11 thoughts on “My life as a Corporate Clean Up artist

  1. I was in HR for too many years. Terminating employment is something that stays with you for a long tine. Even when it was justified, you still understand you’re dealing with someone’s life. It’s not pleasant.

  2. There was a time when for a while I called myself the contract killer, mostly because there were many programs that folded after I came to work on them. I was also sometimes, like you, the Cleanup Woman (and there is a song with that name, too.) Contrary to what you went through, though, I was not responsible for anything having to do with people, but just for cleaning up the other details related to closeout and termination of government contracts. I was pretty good at it and really enjoyed finding out where all the “bodies” were buried so they could be “dispositioned.” Probably the best part of that work was that there were usually no deadlines for completing it. It was such a good fit for me that, before I left my last deadline driven job I applied to do terminations and closeouts again, even at a lower salary level. Of course, by then I was overqualified and hiring managers feared I would get bored in that job. I tried to convince them how much fun I had when doing it but, alas, to no avail!

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