We asked for your worst stories about working in a massive tech bureaucracy. From inept management to insane rules to meetings that lead to more meetings, you’ve been through a lot. Let’s clock in.
Your company ID badge was also your attendance keeper. That’s right, if you were on a set 9-5pm schedule and you arrived late and entered the office, you got a certain percentage deducted from your PTO (paid time off). And HR had a nice little meeting with you.
I had something similar, except they outright refused to make me an exempt employee. They’d even cross check employees to times they were in with where they were on cameras. I was supposed to be on the road 30% of the time working there visiting all of our locations (furthest location was a 3 hour drive) to hold the manager’s hands cause I couldn’t trust them to put up marketing materials.
They cracked down on overtime so I couldn’t even visit locations because my boss wanted me done by 5 pm. They refused my requests to hire an assistant (lol I’m the only marketing guy for 120 miles of territory) and had me focus on marketing bookkeeping since I couldn’t travel as much (lol I have a degree in PR/Design).
I don’t know why I stayed at that place as long as I did.
I had the same thing at one of my ex-employers, only this clock in system used your fingerprint which wouldn’t unlock the door unless you used it. At the end of each month they would print out all of the in/out times for each employee on a spreadsheet and call us all into their offices to talk about the days we were late. The talk always started with the words, “Why do you want to work here?”
I’m a software developer for a certain large American telephone company. I wanted to upgrade the RAM in my laptop from 4 GB to 8 GB because 4 gigs was barely sufficient for everything I need to do and run. My manager agreed. Another 4 gig stick was about 30 bucks. But, nothing can just be purchased. No, it has to go up the chain for approvals. So my boss sends the request to his boss, who sends it to his boss, and I don’t know how far up the chain it goes. Several days later, it comes back denied because budget. All I could do was wonder how much money was spent in man-hours to pay directors and AVPs to review the request and deny it, I bet it was a lot more than 30 dollars. Not to mention the increase in my productivity from having a computer that could handle my work.
Next week is my last week there.
My boss placed the 4 of us who were under him in such a position so that when he was sitting in his enclosed office he could see our desks and computer screens. He would also play “Someone Like You” by Adele on repeat for weeks on end and would refuse to close his office door (because then he wouldn’t be able to spy on us). I still cannot hear Adele’s voice without getting so mad I want to vomit. Lastly, he is German and I’m American but I speak German but he never bothered to discover that about me and would have rather graphic sexual conversations with her on his cell not only in his office but while walking around the main floor area because he assumed nobody would be able to understand. Oh I just remembered...he was really tall and on more than one occasion would make reference to his (I’ll have to take his word for it) big dick. I burned any and all bridges during my exit interview…
Engi Raine wrote:
I work for a huge American Company as a software engineer. My job is to enhance and give maintenance to a specific software tool for automotive applications used on our technical centers all around the world, so a lot of people interact with the tool. As a result, we often receive complains about the tool having issues that most of the time turn out to be the user’s fault. We still have to verify that the issues aren’t our fault, usually by remote sessions with the users’ computers.
One of my worst experiences so far has been working with a new engineer in China. He was having an issue we’re very familiar with, which occurs when the user has not installed the required drivers. So I tell him that he needs to download and install all the drivers from the company’s site. He tells me that he’s done that, but the tool still won’t work and that the tool has to be fixed ASAP, because the customer is doing some field work by the end of the week. I tell him again that we’re familiar with the issue and all he has to do is install the required drivers, but he’s just not listening. This guy contacts my manager and my manager’s manager, and tells them that my tool just doesn’t work and I need to fix it immediately, otherwise we’ll lose the customer. Long story short, I ended up connecting to his computer at 3 a.m., and installing the drivers myself. What a bastard.
Also, I HATE the dress code of my company: business casual. This means that the guy wearing khakis, orange polo and black shoes with white socks gets to walk freely, but if I wear a nice t-shirt and a sport coat, HR has to talk to me. Damn, now I’m angry.
“We changed the labour laws so we don’t have to pay software engineers for overtime hours, but we still expect you to work crazy amounts of them... just not paid.”
Hi there, large primarily sports driven game developer/publisher.
I worked at Dell doing server support. I received glowing customer service and technical evaluations until they made “failure to collect caller email address” a customer service evaluation automatic failure. So we’ve already descended into madness by making spam the cornerstone of “customer service”.
But that was cool. I felt ready to transfer to an engineering department.
Tech support would not approve me for transfer to non-customer facing department because of my problematic customer service scores since the change.
I got a better job at a small data center company. Fuck ‘em.
We had layoffs awhile back. They announced that a large part of My Company was closing due to changes in laws. They announced that thousands of people would be losing their jobs. Then 6 months later, they announced thousands more. Then not 2 weeks later, they had more layoffs, but those were more hush hush. On the same day that those people were getting laid off, the CEO published an email which stated how we has saved tons of money due to reductions in staff, how the shareholders were able to get a record dividend on their shares, and how the company made billions in profit for that year. Dozens of billions. Most people read this as they were packing their desks and saying good bye to people they had worked with for a decade or longer. Most of them got 30 days of severance, with some getting 60 days, and some getting none.
We had some large connection issues with a server/client application, and a bridge was created (call that includes multiple IT business lines). We discussed the issues and tried a few things, but ultimately got nowhere, so the meeting was postponed for a later date.
The next morning, I was sent an invite for a meeting about the issue, an called in. This little Pandora’s box would cost me my soul. You see, this wasn’t a meeting about the issue...this was a meeting ABOUT THE MEETING about the issue. We were asked how it went, if we felt like anything was resolved, if we felt like progress was made, followed by a QA session...about the meeting about the issue.
The next day, we had another meeting and still nothing was solved. We then had ANOTHER mandatory meeting about the meeting, and a few users felt their ideas weren’t heard, and yes, a decision was made to have a meeting, about the meeting, about the meeting about the issue. At one point, 3 hours of my day were taken up with meetings, however, only 4 hours a week were meetings about the actual issue that was affecting users.
The problem was eventually solved, at which point I receive several surveys. One of which was a survey about the meeting, about the meeting, about the meeting, about the issue.
MyCompany shares a building with HugeHealthCare at a particular site. Recently HugeHealthCare had a meeting and invited most of their other employees/sites to the shared building, but assured us that they would be arriving via bus.
Either they don’t know what a bus is, or no one got the memo...because everyone from HugeHealthCare drove to our shared site. Hundreds of cars filled our parking garage, and as our employees came in to work, they had no where to park. Managers began calling employees telling them to park across the street at a church.
The church, seeing their lot fill up, began calling tow trucks. Managers scrambled and called employees and told them not to come in...and they got no pay for not coming in.
In the meantime, HugeHealthCare took over the cafeteria, and began doing employee cheers over a bullhorn, effectively ruining the days of our employees who shared the open floor plans above the cafeteria. 2 whole floors. On top of that, HugeHealthCare gave notice that they would buy Everyone lunch to make up for packing the cafeteria with chanting middle managers. For over 600 people of people, they bought 50 pizzas, and sent a note saying that employees should limit themselves to ONE slice, and buy their own drinks.
I had a salaried job where I was on call 24/7 for months at a time, and my department blew through managers like cling wrap. At one point my current manager told me that I had to start sending him emails when I ‘clocked in and out’ because my previous manager didn’t believe I was getting my 40 hours a week in (though I usually arrived before him and left after him, so the hypocrisy was thick).
I was, as I said, on call 24/7 - as in expected to get online at a drop of the hat, even in the middle of the night. So after 3 weeks of 40 odd messages per week, coming at all hours, that just read “clocking in boss”... “clocking out boss”... my current manager sent me a little email telling me I could knock it off.
Working for a “large telecom” and they would obviously score you on cx interaction and surveys and when I pointed out going off script and listening to solves issues got my cx retention rate so high (highest in co) they still wrote me up and said “it’s not your job to please the CX, it’s your job to please *insert company name.” I pointed out they should change my title from CST Customer Service Technician (I should mention i was tier 3 support, someone with proper IT support exp who’s called for the tough shit) to something else…
I could write a book about my experiences working for the largest company in the world—the federal government...
Members of my team were yelled at several times for trying to do illegal things. One time in particular it was because we tried to buy a fridge for our lab.
The lab accreditation system for our facility was a bloated machine designed to create plenty of jobs where people just stare at their screens. I once had tried to make a purchase that included microchips that had ‘flash’ memory. Because it had the word ‘flash’ in the description, it got lumped into the same category as flash drives. I had to get ‘IT’ approval for the purchase. I used a previously approved purchase form as a template and changed the appropriate fields. It got rejected for some BS reason. I changed some things. Rejected. Changed some things AGAIN. Rejected a third time, but now it had feedback on how to fix it. The feedback actually reflected what I had put in the original form, so I resubmitted the original form that had been rejected. Boom! Approved.
We had to get approval for a number of different classes of products from numerous different parties. One purchase I made from Digikey that was under the $3k credit card buy limit required Spectrum approval, Wireless approval, Hazardous material approval, Laser approval, and IT approval. I’m confident the amount billed for approvals alone far exceeded the purchase price.
Back to the illegal activities, during the many weeks of training that I received, no one ever mentioned that all federal employees have an implicit NDA with anybody they do business for. Violating the implicit NDA is a criminal offense and can be prosecuted. An engineer I worked with happened to mention an NDA to the right person and we found out that any NDA we signed meant that not only could we be charged with a felony, but that we would be held personally liable for any damage from violating the NDA. You would think that would have come up during orientation...
I had designed a small hobby project with no federal government application, and had contacted a company that agreed to give me a share of the profits for the design. I decided to just play it safe and consult with the legal department before continuing down the road. I filled out the forms and submitted them. I still hadn’t received a response after 2 years by the time I left, and yes I checked in periodically.
Within the last decade, the mailboxes were limited to around 250Mbs, which filled up quickly. I had to deal with archiving and deleting emails multiple times each week. Oh. And we were stuck at IE6 until 2010.
I was once investigate by the FBI for doing my job. They found out I was a federal employee and handed the investigation off to the organization’s federal agents, who then interrogated my bosses and then still pulled me in and interrogated me. At the end the agent told me he already knew I wasn’t a terrorist but still had to go through the process.
What else? We had to have separate computers for Internet and Work. These weren’t even classified systems. It wasn’t that bad while we could use thumbdrives. However, somebody somewhere plugged in a USB drive that sent data to China, so all flash devices were banned. That meant we burned a lot of CDs. According to the rules, the CDs had to be finalized. I’m convinced the government keeps the CD industry alive.
Dunno if this is “giant tech company” or not, but I worked for a chain that was known for selling all kinds of electronics and high tech stuff.
The owners of the chain were such ridiculous cheapskates that they would not use check-guarantee services, so if a customer wanted to write a check, the cashier had to leave the register, call the bank, and “verify funds.” The owners also wrote their own POS software... yeah, the alternate wording was much more appropriate (obsolete items were never deleted from the database, and all the bogus customer IDs that cashiers created while they were training were accepted as genuine, and you wouldn’t believe how many “BIll Clinton” and “Superman” and “Batman” etc etc etc etc etc had—probably still have—customer accounts).
Returns were done by filling out a triplicate NCR form... for each separate item being returned... BY HAND. Then one form stayed in the returns area, one form was ferried over to the checkout, and one was given to the customer to authorize the refund or whatever. No need to go into detail.
The frosting on the cake is that this “high tech” company refused to install bar code scanners at the checkout till circa 2000. Cashiers had to type in each product’s company-issued number, and woe to the cashier who typed wrong.
Yes, they are still in business.
I used to work in a call center as internal tech support as an employee of a now defunct tech contractors. They had a centralized management system that was, in fact, fairly slick. Your clock-in was your log in to the phone, and you were expected to log in promptly on time, the system would track when you were in “ready” for a call, “not ready”, on the phone or on break; this made it easy to see who was “out of alignment” (if I remember the phrase correctly) meaning, in theory, taking too many/too long of a break, etc. The way the system was set up, you could select your preferred work schedules, people with the best scores, which included “alignment”, got their pick of their preferred work schedule. All of this sounds great, except for one thing: being out of alignment, for any reason, meant that your manager had to go in and manually edit your schedule after the day was done if it wasn’t your fault and being on a call into your lunch time and then taking the appropriate amount of lunch time was a double ding to your “alignment”. In theory, you’d email your manager, they’d fix your schedule afterwords since you were, in fact, doing your job and just happened to get roped into a long call; in practice those lazy bastards wouldn’t do a damn thing and you’d get dinged for doing your job.
With all of that explained, while working on the campus of one of our clients, our call center was in a “high security” building with only one exit and entrance. These exits and entrances were called “man traps”, because they had a very specific way of opening and closing. You had to badge in past one door, then wait for the first door to close, before you badge through the second door; the second door had pressure sensitive floors. Well, one day during lunch time, the pressure sensors on the floors failed, leaving one poor guy trapped for almost an hour coming back from lunch with everyone else trapped outside, alarm blaring. Everyone’s “alignment” was super fucked because of this, management assured everyone that they would correct schedules as appropriate, they did not. The sensors failed twice more that week until they were finally fixed for good, we all had to sit through a mandatory reminder meeting on the importance of alignment...because we couldn’t get in the damn building.
Garett Davis wrote:
Realities of being a major corporation being bought by Microsoft, the beginning:
“This is nothing but good news, guys! We have no plans to make cuts at this time!”
“Now we have an 80 billion dollar budget behind us!”
“Free Xbox One for every employee (who pays the sales tax)!”
“Of course we’re going to keep you guys around, we didn’t just acquire a company, we acquired you! We need your expertise! You’re the experts, not us!”
Then things get a little rocky (within just a few months):
“OK, sure, we’re laying off a 5 digit number of people(!), but there was a lot of overlap in our employee base, the rest of you are golden!”
“We have many new technologies rolling out in the next year that will take the market by storm!”
Just a few months after that, a wild new CEO appears:
“I fully back my predecessor’s decision to acquire your company, and we will make many leaps forward this year!”
“An email regarding your employment status will be sent out within the next ten minutes. If you do not receive an email, you will be staying with the company. Refer to your immediate manager for any questions or concerns.”
5 minutes later:
“We regret to inform you that your employment is being terminated. Details about your severance (if applicable) will be distributed to you shortly. Refer to your immediate manager for questions or concerns (who in all likelihood also lost their job).”
This is where I lost my job, along with most at my site. Less than a year later the site was closed (just last month), and a small percentage of those employees were given the option to move to Redmond to apply for a job there.
One bit of luck I and my colleagues had here is that the severance package and benefits were still under the same contract from my former company, so we got a pretty generous payout, which helped a lot. The OG Microsoft employees that lost their job (far less, but still quite a few) only received the minimum required by their respective state or federal laws. So that was one small silver lining in that rain cloud for me. Also, Microsoft isn’t a bad name to have on a resume.
They have acquired many, many companies over the years, and I know others will have happier endings than mine, but for me, these were the joys of working for Microsoft.
Stef Schrader wrote:
One story I can share about my tech marketing job: they were legitimately terrified of Glassdoor.
Any meeting about hiring new staff that took place the last year or so I was there was always accompanied about a rant about Glassdoor. We’d lose promising hires because they’d get cold feet or go somewhere else, and Glassdoor was always to blame. And heaven forbid, if you posted something on Glassdoor, please consider revising it or taking it down. <Lumbergh voice> Could you all, maybe, post a positive review on Glassdoor to combat the “bitter old group” that left? That’d be great. </I still need Lumbergh’s 911>
You know how to avoid negative reviews on Glassdoor? I dunno, treat people with respect, pay them fairly, promote from within, and maybe—just maybe—keep them happy? It’s definitely not by ranting about Glassdoor in meetings.
I recently worked for a company that helped support the VA system by helping those veterans that either lived more then 30 miles from the closest VA facility or was on a wait list of more then 30 days away. That wasn’t the depressing part. The calls came in and we recorded what was needed and told the vets they would be notified within 10 days of an appointment. 3 months later I left there after finding out that all the appointments were waiting for were actually in a big folder on a shared drive that wasn’t even actuallyt processed yet and noone noticed it. Yea...I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I studied jazz and criminal justice in college. Never took a single college math or business course. Never finished college. A few years later I started as a data entry contractor for one of the largest telecom companies in the world. 7 years later, I was an employee, in management, on salary, with the job title Senior Financial Analyst. How did I do this? I swear, all I did, was one day, I spent about an hour Googling how to do pivot tables and Vlookups and I became the “Excel expert” in my office.
Here is an actual email from a “CONSULTANT” that was hired for a company I worked for back in 2004... I have bolded the best parts of the email for your skimming convenience.
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 6:02 PM
To: Company Employee
Subject: RE: Follow up on today’s session
Thank you for your email and time today.
Product development, marketing, promoting and sales are all areas we are focusing on. That said, at the end of the day, Our Company needs a Purple Cow which can be marketed to Sneezers. If you have not read the book Purple Cow, by Seth Godin, please read it. It is a fun, easy, 2 hour read about Marketing. I would also like for OPERATIONS to read this book, it will assist you in better understanding my mind set regarding Product Development and Marketing.
I wish I could simply recommend that Our Company invest in a marketing budget to achieve success. However, I believe that budget must be committed to Product Development to create Enhanced Services like we discussed today such as POS integration, Voice Portal access, Payroll, Enhance Sexy Services, Dual Play option, Forward thinking exercises, etc..
My focus is to identify profitable Sexy Enhanced Services that will complement the product offerings and birth a Purple Cow. This is the way forward. Through the Purple Cow comes the honey fields of sales joy.
Some of my questions are: How do we touch the e-purse? How do we build the bridge of trust with the customers? How do we partner with strategic players allowing instant credibility from their reference accounts? What Enhanced Services should be added to product offerings? What are the margins and returns based on the different business models? Who has the right cheese for our mouse trap? What are the identifiable trigger to buyers overall purchase conscious?
Regarding Stability. We will all be happy when there is stable positive cash flow. Based on what I have seen and investigated, Our Company’s Investors have been very generous and have fully supported management. Anyway, smooth seas make poor sailors….hopefully the necessary reorganization will bring more focus to the bottom line. If you feel like the ship is too leaky for your taste, maybe you should stay on the shore.
I look forward to having more discussions with you regarding your position and your future at Our Company.
Have a great and productive day.
Holy crap. You all deserve medals for putting up with this unique brand of corporate torture. If you didn’t get to share your story yet, let’s keep this ball rolling in the comments.
Top image: Office Space