You can’t treat people like crap!

“We are not a holding company. We are people.”

“We care about you. Really.”

“We are about opportunity. Opportunity to create, to grow and to have an impact. We want all of our people to be as successful as they can be to reach their full potential.”

These are all statements taken directly from the Deckers Brands website.  Sounds great! Right?  Not so much.  Recently, I had a very short-lived career with Deckers.  In fact, it lasted all of 9 days and 4 hours. That is definitely a record for me as the quickest exit from a job I have ever had.  (I lasted longer gutting fish at a fish market in high school.) It’s a very long way from my 15 years with David’s Bridal. So what happened?  I wish I knew.

Somewhere between the last in-person interviews that resulted in a unanimous vote of “we love you” and the same day offer, and ten days later when I showed up for my first day of work, something changed.  I don’t really know what happened because all they would tell me was that I wasn’t a “good fit”.

I wrote two letters to the corporate office about my experience – not because I thought it would change anything, or because I wanted to get my job back, but because it is wrong to treat people in the manner I was treated. And somebody should know.

Since then, I have not had a single response from my emails. I didn’t really think I would, but one can hope. I have moved on – doing contract work with a great non-profit organization.  I have support from my family and friends. I am greeted with I’m sorry’s that are laced with smiles because they are happy to have me back.  I’m okay.

But I want you to know what happened.  Why? Becuase leaders need to know that you can’t treat people like crap. We are currently experiencing an upside-down, backwards-facing, pond-scummy, whatever-I-want, idiotic political race, where our potential leaders seem to think it is acceptable to treat human beings without dignity. Well, I say it’s not.  We are better than this – even if those who have influence over the direction of our lives disagree.

This is the letter I sent to the Chief HR Officer

Attn: 
Graciela Montgomery, Chief Human Resources Officer
Deckers Brands

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Good Day Ms. Montgomery,

I am forwarding to you a letter I sent to Andrea Jackson with regards to my termination.  I feel that it is important for you to understand the manner in which your leaders have been handling the staffing in the new Denver call center.  You may look at this as simply sour apples, but in my long experience in working in customer service, I have never seen – or moreover, been treated – in the manner that Heather Bissell, Call Center Director, Kim Heidt, VP Customer Experience, and to a lesser extent Andrea Jackson, SR Manager Human Resources, handled my very short-term employment with Deckers Brands.

I interviewed with a number of your home office associates over a fairly long period.  My application was accepted on July 19 and I received my first request for an interview on July 26.  The process was very drawn out, and I continued to interview with other companies, however as the interviewing went on and I spent more time researching and learning about the company, I became increasingly excited about the opportunity I saw in front of me.  After each interview, I was assured that the interviewer had been very impressed with me and was excited about the possibilities we had discussed.

My first interview with Heather Bissell was very short and although she was pleasant enough, she seemed disinterested in my background or qualifications – very quickly ending our call.  I chalked this up to her being new in the position and let it slide.  The interview with Lucy Gros renewed my excitement about the prospects of working to build a new and customer focused training program from the ground up, something I had successfully done at David’s Bridal.  When offered the three interviews at the call center location I felt very good about my prospects and began to turn down other offers.  I felt that at this time in my life I wanted to align myself with a quality company – not just accept any job that would pay my bills.  I had spent 15 years with my last employer and was looking for the next place to lay down roots. On September 8, the offer for the position as the Call Center Training Manager came on the same day as those interviews. I was told it was unanimous and that everyone was eager to have me start as soon as I could.  I accepted, completed the required paperwork, and eagerly awaited my start date on September 19th of what I thought was to be an exciting career.  What happened was as far from the set expectations as it could have been.

Your website speaks of the “importance of people”, “ethical corporate behavior”, “being valued as a human being”, “about an opportunity to create, to grow, and to have an impact.”

The company Code of Ethics states, “Our good name and reputation depend on the actions of each and every one of us. Our individual actions must be guided by trust, accountability, honesty, fairness, respect and integrity each and every day.”

I no longer believe that your leaders live by this creed.  I was treated so poorly on my first day that I can only think something had occurred between my being offered the position and when I arrived. I know that I am an eager and high energy type of individual.  I can be odd, quirky, and overly exuberant at times. But these were some of the traits that the interviewers mentioned they liked in me.  On Thursday of my first week, I had a discussion with Heather regarding the need tone down my excitement.  Fair enough.  I did.  I focused on being a part of the new hire training class – learning the systems needed to respond to consumer calls.

She also questioned if I thought this position was a “good fit”.  An inquiry I found confusing as it was only day four and I had not even seen a job description or had a planning meeting about the expectations of the position or even knew what was to be my first project.  At the time, I had been told to simply behave as a new hire participating in the new hire agent training process.

During the nesting period, between customer calls,  I spent time revising my notes, confirming understanding through the help center, and beginning to write a new opening to the training class.  Heather was out of the business on vacation, and I had no indication from anyone else that I was behaving in a manner in any way unacceptable. 

That is until Thursday.  I received a request from Andrea Jackson to have an immediate call together.  This was my first indication that anyone had been concerned about my behavior and frankly I was confused as to what could have been the problem.  She brought to my attention that a report was made that I was “unengaged in my own learning, preferring to spend my time playing solitaire.”  I was flabbergasted as this was a far from the truth as it could have possibly been.  Yes, I spent some time at the beginning and before the end of my break or lunch, engaged in a computer game.  I learned a technique to transition out of one state of mind (such as a break) and into another (such as learning mode) when I was a special education teacher in the early 90’s.  It is one I teach and use to help focus quickly on the next task at hand.  A simple game of solitaire, a few minutes of a puzzle, or a quick drawing are a proven way to help an individual leave behind the previous activity and focus on the next. (In fact, this is the basis of the latest adult craze for coloring books.)

I have 56 pages of handwritten notes, accessed at least 30 to 40 of the Zen Desk help center tutorials, began a One-Note notebook of 5 sections to organize the material I was absorbing and created an outline to present as a better way to help new hires readjust their paradigms regarding a customer-centric call center.  And all this while I made every customer I spoke to happy with the results of their calls.

Then on Friday, I was let go.  Kim Heidt would only state that I was “not a good fit.”  That she had to spend part of every day talking about me with Heather (while on vacation), that she had never had to have two conversations with any new manager in their first two weeks before. She was insistent that her time with Deckers has helped her know who will work out and who won’t.  She would not answer my questions about what I had done to cause this impression.  She was dismissive, rude, and unwilling to explain other than to say I was simply not going to “work out.”

Please tell me how any of this is in keeping with your company standards?  I changed my life in many ways to accept this position.  I began to build hopes, plans and saw a future that was better than my husband and I have had – all based on the promises made in the interview and hiring process.

I believed in what was told to me.  I made plans. I spent hours preparing to move out of the training class and into my actual position.  And now, quite frankly, I am devastated. I will be fine. I will find a position that will actually value my skills and abilities, will celebrate what I can bring to their company – quirky traits and all – but I am still devastated. For three weeks I have imagined the possibilities of this position, began planning and creating something new – and your seemingly unethical, unbelieving, dishonest, unfair, and disrespectful leaders would not even tell me why I was not a “good fit.”

In at “at will” employment state, I probably have no grounds for a wrongful dismissal suit.  I will look into this, but I am sure this will not worry you. I have not met you and do not know if your leaders are representative of your beliefs as well.  I sincerely hope not. I hope that somewhere in your organization are individuals that actually believe in the creed you express on your website.

Sincerely,

Angela R. Nevin

 

I believe that auto-flush toilets will be the downfall of civilization.

You would really have to be living in a cave to not be aware of the current ongoing apocalyptic trends.  I cancelled our cable subscription and still am inundated with every type of apocalypse scenario man (or woman) can imagine.  To be fair, this is not a new trend. Each religion offers its own version of the end of times. The Mayans predicted an end of the world in 2012. Some say particle physics has the potential to cause a catastrophic event.  Computers were set to destroy society on New Year’s Eve 2000 or was it 2001, or 1999? (I never did get that one straight.)  If you include the three or four end-of-the-world predictions from CUT (Church Universal and Triumphant) out of Gardner, Montana, then I have survived at least seven episodes of the Sky is Falling.  (I really need to get a new t-shirt with that on it…)  Then there are the multiple theories from TV, Movies, Literature, Comic books, etc. of zombie-vampire-sharknado-volcanic-urban legend-alien-virus-gigantic bugs-radiation fallout-witches-weather-time traveling harbingers of doom and gloom.  Even Oakland university is offering a  Post-Apocalyptic Survival Studies (PASS) program that “will provide the necessary skills to not only survive as an individual in an apocalyptic aftermath, but to contribute in a meaningful way.”*  However, I think the end of civilization will be due to auto-flush toilets. Yep – you heard me right – toilets that flush themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for advancements in convenience and technology.  As one who has sat on an outdoor vault toilet while camping in the late fall, I can appreciate that modern plumbing has eliminated the cold-wind-up-the-hoochi-coochi  that is standard when living out of doors for a week. However, you can’t debate the fact that auto-flush toilets are taking away the need to teach our children how to be responsible for their own sh*t.  I have listened to my sister teaching her little ones (and she has four of them!) what to do when they are done doing.  The parents out there reading this know that when you are potty training your little cutie pie, you don’t just teach her where to go but also to flush when done and then wash her hands. (And the world thanks you for that!)

“Wait!”  You say. ” Auto-flush toilets aren’t in people’s homes.  They are only in public areas. You still have to teach the little ones what to do at home.”  Ah ha!  But there you are wrong.  They are now available for installation in your own inside outhouse.  Should you wish, you too can install a new Rubbermaid Automatic Toilet Flusher designed specifically for home toilets.  In less than 15 minutes you can have a patented flusher with 4 easy to set flushing functions and batteries that last 100,000 cycles or 3 years. Run to Home Depot and you will never have to teach flushing to your youngster again. But ask yourself – should you?  Isn’t society built on each of us owning our individual responsibilities and contributing to the greater good for all? That is the very foundation of a civilization. But if we remove the very core of individual responsibility (caring for your own sh*t), then what foundation is left on which to build the first level of social interaction?

Generally we share ownership – not of our lives – but in them.  From dinner, to work, to caring for others, we interact, interfere, navigate, and negotiate our way through life with those around us.  We share the road with motorcycles.  We are part of a team at work.  We have friends on social networks.  We stand in line to buy groceries.  We walk on green, run on yellow, and stop on red.  But more and more I look around and see people who are unaware of their surroundings.  (And I am the first to say I suffer from being inside my head too much.) I sometimes stop in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store and block the path, or I step back without first seeing how close I am to the person in line behind me.  But I was taught to be aware of my surroundings – to care if I interrupt someone carelessly – to listen rather than talk – to make my own bed.  I don’t get it right all the time. (I certainly know of people around me who would love for me to get it right more often!)  But I was taught to be responsible for myself – all of me – even my sh*t.

What happens when little by little we erode that personal obligation.  If we struggle with it now when we have actually been taught the lessons that build our individual responsibility, what happens when civilization is run by adults who as children were raised with auto-flush toilets?  Heck with the zombies, we will be up to our collective necks in our individual sh*t.

*From <http://www.oakland.edu/post-apocalyptic-studies>