Friday, 24 October 2014

A Modern Resignation

Hi Jakki

This is to give you three months' notice of my resignation.

I've really enjoyed my time at Jackson Sprockets. It's been a chance to develop my career, to manage a budget for the first time and to be on the cutting edge of modern sprocket manufacturing technology. My colleagues are great. Team spirit is brilliant. My salary is highly satisfactory. Indeed my new employers, Flanagan Flanges, are offering me substantially less basic salary.

And the premises are lovely. Decent canteen, nice food, and a good location with parkland out the back where you can walk in summer.

But it's the email. When I started, I was a keen disciple of "inbox zero". I was delighted, every day at five-thirty, to shut down my PC knowing I had dealt with every email inquiry.

But, as the months went by, I found it harder to do. Increasingly as time went by, and I became more recognised as an authority in 4" cast-iron sprockets, people started "looping Dave in" on any email thread involving sprockets, cast iron, or anything that measured four inches. The last of these categories, you will understand, causing me most distress. And the practice of "looping in", being intended to bring more people into already pointless death-spirals of conversation, resulted in original queries about, for example, optimal sprocket production temperatures spinning off into digressions on the steel market, the need only to use A4 plastic pocket folders, and the fact that Jasmine is out of the office. 

Then there's the prats who "reply all" to messages sent out as information to the whole company. And the super-prats who then "reply all" to tell them what they've done. And the people who send you an email to confirm what you've just discussed. Or a "chase" twenty minutes after the first one to remind you they sent you an email. And the Fantasy Football League. And the recruitment consultants who apologise for contacting me "directly". Like asking a passing stranger whether I have any vacancies would be any use.

And it's fair to say you've not helped. Ironically because of your desire to include me in conversations. Every morning I come in to discover 400 emails that you've forwarded on to me, in a late-night BlackBerry frenzy,  adding merely the salutation "FYI". I tried adding a rule to put them all into a folder called "fyi", in case I ever really needed the information. But sometimes in a meeting whenever you didn't know the answer, you'd turn to me, knowing you had forwarded me an email "FYI", and expect me to know the answer.  So I've had to read them all.

By the way, Jasmine is always out of the office. Is this a cunning method to stay out of email conversations? It doesn't work. It just results in the sender copying in all four of her subordinates to see who can help. And "looping in" everybody in the original email chain. And Jasmine herself. For her information.

I've not really been productive at work for the last year. Every minute - and, actually, every minute of my evenings - has been spent trying to deal with the dark black number - ever-increasing - in brackets  next to the word Inbox". Every meeting I've attended, I have been constantly tapping on the BlackBerry (not a euphemism) dealing with emails coming in at a rate of one every thirty seconds - normally from other people in the same meetings. Oddly, my contributions to these meetings, and the value I get out of them, has not been affected. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So, at approximately 4,000 unread emails, it's time to leave. I don't doubt that I will hit the same problem eventually at Flanagan Flanges. I just reckon it will take about 2 years until this whole futile cycle has repeated.

I an aware that you, likewise, have approximately 27,000 unread emails in your inbox. Since you deal with this issue by reading only emails from people you think are important, you won't ever read this resignation email.  One day you too will resign, and on the day you leave, you will consign this, and hundreds of thousands like with it, to the Deleted Items folder. And walk away thinking you've done a good job.

If I'm lucky, you'll still be paying me.

Best regards


1 comment :

  1. The one thing that I don't miss about work is email. It was the bane of my life, particularly the people who marked it urgent or important. I took to the strategy of filtering anything that had been fowarded into a maybe folder and if I hadn't opened it within five days, auto-delete kicked in and it was gone. I did the same with info emails. Worked a treat. The worst ones who asked for 'read receipts' which I pointblank refused to do. There emails were marked as spam and automatically consigned to the spam folder and cleansed daily by the housekeeping program.

    It occasionally got me into hot water, but not often enough to cause me any guilt. In fact, I was content to fight them off and tell them that I hadn't received it, but as they'd copied it to all and sundry, I assume that one of my colleagues, who had delegated authority, would have dealt with it, as I had much more important thing to do, such as having a life, having a coffee or chatting with mates over skype.

    It's a good place to be where you are senior enough to bat away such consequences and the over officious, self important people, who believe that their stuff deserves your personal attention.

    Now that I'm retired, I only get emails that I subscribe too and can choose to deal with at my leisure - that's what email was designed for, not to terrorize or to dominate a whole working day.


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