Last week’s layoffs

Enough has been finalized or at least near-finalized at work that I’m
comfortable telling the story now. I’m not sure how much detail you
all care about, so I’ll apologize in advance for going into too
much or too little, because I’m not sure exactly what to write here.


I arrived at work a week ago last Wednesday, and Peter, a fellow
sysadmin, caught
me at the door to tell me that there were layoffs. This wasn’t our
first round of layoffs — previous rounds had claimed
Q_skud_ and Gcrumb — and it was the end
of the financial year, so I wasn’t surprised that there
were layoffs. The systems that laid-off employees were using are
my group’s responsibility, so we’re usually second to know, so there
wasn’t anything too unusual about being told on the way in.


And then I found out the scale of the layoffs.


Company-wide, I found out later, we laid off about 2%, which is
about 40 people. (It was certainly less than 50, because laying
off 50 people requires eight weeks’ notice or subsequent pay in
Ontario, and that didn’t happen this time.) Unfortunately, about
half of that was from our group. It’s easiest to list Wednesday’s
changes:

  • Our group’s sales and marketing division are gone; sales
    and marketing will be done by the central Mitel sales
    organization. Two

  • Product management for SME product lines will be handled
    by one person.

  • Our administrative assistant was laid off
  • Engineering laid off short two developers (including
    Athena_51) and one project manager, and will
    be moved into the main Mitel R&D infrastructure and
    office location

  • Paul and Zac who have done top-tier and presales support are
    moving into the organization which formerly escalated problems
    to them

  • My group, Operations, laid off one person and will move
    into Mitel’s central IT organization but still remain mostly
    autonomous there (but more on this later).

plus not-insignificant shifts in product direction, and the
impending cancellation of a couple of product lines that were
roughly linked to ours. (Closely-linked products are still going,
as are ours.)


I found out later that day that the whole SME division was very
nearly cut off completely, and what happened was the lower-impact
move.


So we all went over to the local pub for a few hours — this is about
10:30 AM, mind — both those laid off and those remaining, which made
the whole thing a little easier for both groups for that day at least.
Most of the reorganization changes I mentioned above were only
guesses on Wednesday — all that was for sure then was the names of
the people that were going — so there really wasn’t much for anyone
to do back at the office until people above us got things
straightened out.


Thursday afternoon, those of us remaining were to get together in
order to find out what we knew about what was going to happen
from here, and what we thought was going to happen, plus an
open Q&A session. Ten minutes before that meeting, Geoff, my
manager, took our team aside to tell us that he was leaving
as well — we were going to be moving underneath a manager
who Geoff didn’t get along with, who in turn reported to someone
else Geoff didn’t get along with, and there really wasn’t
room for an extra level of hierarchy up there, so he didn’t really
like the way things were heading. Were I in his position, I’d
have done the same, I think — he’ll have no problem supporting
himself on the conference circuit this summer and in consulting
later, being the president of SAGE
but it came as a bit of a surprise nonetheless.


So that left three of us from Ops — Mike and Geoff having been laid off,
and Paul having been moved to the support org — coming out of a huge recent
set of hardware and vendor changes, with no manager that knows
what we do, and with no firm idea of how we’re going to fit into
the rest of Mitel. Lovely.


The subsequent week seems to have zipped by, mostly because the
future is starting to take shape and it involves a great deal of
work on our part, redesigning our internal network to take account
of the coming physical moves and so forth, and fast-tracking a
bunch of other cost-saving projects. We’ve since sat down twice
with our new manager, and while he seems a bit nervous about the
whole move, I’m chalking it up to unfamiliarity — he seems like
he’s happy to be hands-off, and will still give us the chance
to put our hands into other projects going on in IT as our
familiarity builds. Peter described his attitude of the whole
move as cautious optimism, and I’m inclined to agree.


Friday afternoon, Peter and Karl (the third Ops guy) and I headed
up to IT’s area to meet the people we hadn’t already met and to
scope out our probable desks. The furniture is a little old, but
the cubicles actually have walls, and I’m ending up with a
desk by a north-facing window. We’re a cubicle-hallway over from
the rest of the IT group, which will work out well, I think —
when we need to be heads-down we can, and when we want to
get involved we can hear what’s going on and decide whether or not
to wander over.


So thus ends the e-smith chapter. I don’t particularly mind the
organizational change, and since the icky bits aren’t anything
I can undo, I’m sort of looking forward to seeing how this turns
out.


At least now I have something to write about for the next while.