What do people really mean when they say they have “trust issues”? Issues with who? Certainly there are people you trust. Family, but not all. Friends, for the most part. Colleagues, until you don’t.
If there’s anything years of business travel taught me, it was that I have trust issues. It certainly didn’t start out that way. You don’t typically start out at a job, looking to build your career and say “I’m not going to trust you.” You dive right in, ready to be the ultimate loyalist, show them how good you are, a “team player.” And the company goes overboard to welcome you, load you up with equipment, tools, training, welcome news releases, possibly even a sign-on bonus. Everything’s great, until you realize that corporate business elicits your loyalty for only a determined amount of time.
I worked in corporate business for 15 years before I figured that out. I was going to stay there until I retired, be “the face of the company” since I was in Sales and managed the clients. But my loyalty was shattered like broken glass “all in a days work”. The day they decided to shut down a small off-site division I worked closely with. Now we knew they were going to shut down the physical office but the manager & staff were told they would be relocating to the corporate office about 20 miles away. Made sense. Until it didn’t.
Like I said, I worked closely with that off-site office, not directly for them. I traveled in from out of town, was a remote worker before it was even a thing. But on this particular day, I was in town for personal reasons (it was close to the beach after all) and had decided to work out of the off-site office while there.
As typical while traveling for business, you head out with colleagues for drinks at the end of the day. And I happen to go out for drinks that evening with someone who was not only a colleague, and the manager of that office but who had over the years become a great friend. Someone I trusted implicitly & still do today.
During drinks I get a call from my Bosses, Boss (they both work at another site in a different state). He says he heard that I was in town (the beach town) and asked what I had planned for the next day. I went over with him my schedule, which was client meetings during the day. He promptly asked me to cancel the meetings and instead go to the HR building the next morning. Ask for David. We need you go to with HR to the satellite office tomorrow.
Now I’m a little confused, and said something to the effect of “to help them move to corporate?” “No”. He says. “To lay them all off. Just be at the corporate office at 8:00 am. Thanks.” And he hangs up.
Now, I’m sitting there having drinks with my friend who manages that office, and now I’ve just been told he and his whole staff are not really being moved to corporate they are all losing their jobs the next day. I’m dumbfounded, on so many levels. Least of which is that I’m in sales, why the hell do I have to go with HR to lay them all off?
About the time my friend says “what did he want” his phone starts ringing. A colleague/friend of his in IT says “Dude, what’s going on, I’m suppose to shut off access to your computer and everyone in your office tomorrow morning.” Of course he’s thinking it’s because of the move to corporate, but the IT person says he doesn’t think that’s what it is.
I hear his side of the conversation and he sees my “white as a ghost face”. He calls “David from HR” & asks him what’s going on? David, tells him the truth. They are shutting down the office, him included. We both just sit there, how do you even begin to process that? By ordering another bottle of Chardonnay to start.
It’s easy now to go through the scenarios of that day & quickly find all the chains of broken trust isn’t it?
The next day was one that still haunts me, 10 years later. Driving 30 minutes in the car with HR people. Listening to them give the instructions about what will happen when we get to the office. Them telling me to gather them up and ask them to go into the conference room. Make sure they are all there, let them know if someone’s not there & the go put boxes on their desk once they are all in the conference room. I’m nauseous. They start talking a little smack about my friend, the office manager, and I can’t it anymore. I speak up and shut them down quickly about his work ethics and character. David agrees with me.
So after the severance packages were handed out and the boxes filled (which wasn’t much because of course they all had a heads up the night before) and the office key fobs turned in, we head to the parking lot. Me with the HR people who I now detest, and them, my laid off colleagues and friends, to their cars. I was a bit jealous because I knew they were headed out for cocktails. And I had to go to lunch with HR people. “All in a days wok” they said. I can’t decide if I’m going to start screaming or break out in tears. Finally David asks if I’m okay. “No, I’m not okay”. And I wasn’t. I thought that any minute I might throw up all over them. David tells the group they need to get me back to the office and they can have lunch there. The others begrudgingly obligate.
Back at the corporate office I get another call from my Bosses, Boss. He is in town after all and asks me to come see him when I get back to corporate. When I meet up with him, I’m still in disbelief & nauseous, and he says “Is it done, are they gone?” “Yes” I said. “But why?” He starts in on the political BS and reasoning for the layoffs. But I stop him and say “But why me? Why did I have to go with them?” His response “Oh, well, we needed someone there with HR who had actually met the people and could verify that’s who they were. Thanks for doing that, take the rest of the day off.”
Not surprisingly, I quit a few months later. My trust in corporate business forever broken.
I work for myself now, and I must say, it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done. But the trust issues remain.
“I” have the trust issues about it. But when I finally “took the rest of the day off” and met up with my colleagues/friends who had all just lost their jobs, they were the one’s consoling me. They knew it was coming for awhile, I didn’t. Some of them had other jobs already lined up. One went into the army, one became a writer, my friend who managed the office went on to become President of a competing company, as for me, I became “Self-Employed”.