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No Good At Closure

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End employment as an executive part-owner of a closely held firm, and should you have to be the one processing all the wind-up administration work???

Noodlenoggin that I was, I would not have thought so. Maybe if you’re no longer going to be one of the company’s partners, you have to step out of your partner’s business suit and do some “real work” for once to be sure that everything is properly closed out. Contact every single client who might have had your phone number and business address to emphasize that you will no longer be there? Cancel all subscriptions, even of the simplest magazine subscriptions? Contact the painters to make sure the office gets properly refurbished? Where does the line get drawn?

Over six months ago, I left my prior employer of 21 years to take a position in the federal government. Of course, it was not supposed to be up to me to cancel my company American Express card – they were to take care of that for me – nor was it ever expected of me (at least, based on what was communicated to me, and based on what ought be normal operating procedures for an executive resigning from any commonplace company) to return to my old desk the next month(s) to take care of any followthrough expenses. Ditto everything else, it was my understanding.

I do admit, I was somewhat suspicious that I could do that with everything. In particular, I did devote a little extra attention to my laptop’s wireless card, thinking I simply ought take the initiative and cancel that myself. But I was assured from several directions that all would be taken care of, specifically including the wireless card. And Iit was too easy to turn back to actual client work moving through my office all the way through to the final hour (and even into the weekend beyond, which was normal for me, the only eventual halt to my work coming the next Monday morning solely because of my new association with the federal government, else I might still be doing pieces of my old job here and there, I suspect). Besides, the wireless card and the wireless account was technically the the property of my former employer, so who was I even in my executive position to presume whether it ought to be cancelled versus handed down to anyone picking up my work in my wake?

Ah, but there the circus begins. The profit center I worked in for my former employer operates out of downtown Washington, D.C.; the basic accounting for that profit center operates out of Virginia; the director of that profit center was herself departing the company at almost the exact same time; my AMEX bills were being handled by one exec assistant out of Houston while my AMEX card was being turned over to another; my computer, including the wireless card, was to be handed over to the Houston computer technician (who left sometime in the middle of all this) pending resolution of whether it would be used by the Washington operation or “sold” to another division of the company; while the managerial decisions for all this, including some of the most micro-managed aspects of the job, wound their way though various offices spread through the company until landing somethere in Albany in collaboration with Seattle.

Somewhere in all that, a massive crack opened up, and termination of the company’s wireless card that had been used on my old computer never quite got done. At which point instead of going after the company responsible for the AMEX card, the wireless phone company decided to take it up with me personally. But not before four months had transpired. At which point I go into overdrive on my noodlenogginness, since I tend to not know what the hell to do by that point, so my general operating procedure there tends to forget the whole damned mess until the next time it raises its ugly head.

I still don’t get it. When the first AMEX bill came through to them way back in August – to them at the business address, not to me in any form that might have let me know I needed to step in and do what they told me would be done for me – did it not occur to anyone at all somewhere between Houston and D.C. and Virginia and Albany and Seattle and gods know where else that someone somewhere ought to cancel the damn thing instead of letting it go on and on and on?

Noodlenoggin that I am, when I left I should have just plain cancelled the damn wireless device and everything else I could think of all the way down to the office itself and just put them all out on the street, let them pick it up from there if they wanted. Advice to any executives departing the same company: process your own departures, everything down to the smallest detail.

bumper sticker [] - noodlenoggin

P.S. — A huge thank you to Susan, who probably now deserves a paycheck from my old employer for doing a lot of what they promised me would get done by their own staff to get this all settled.

Written by macheide

4 March 2008 at 4:39 pm

Posted in noodlenoggin


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