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Rich Lafferty's Journal

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Last week's layoffs
pinkie pie
mendel
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 damned_colonial 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.