Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ms. Theologian Contemplates Taking an Old Beau Back

Dear Ms. Theologian ---

I'm considering going back to a company I worked for several years ago. I was recruited away originally by a good friend, who was to be my boss. But having had this new job for two years, my boss is now leaving, and I'm thinking of going back to the old company, which used to a crazy place, but I'm hoping has changed because of new management (corporate buy-out, actually). How do I know if anything has changed?


Dear Confused,

Consider how to deconstruct craziness. What makes a workplace crazy? The people? The actual tasks involved? The building? What is underneath the label of "crazy"?

Ms. Theologian worked for a very crazy nonprofit for several years under different reigns of management. She was convinced if the first leader of the nonprofit left that everything would be better (deadlines and expectations would be reasonable, people would be respected, contractors would be paid, grants would be awarded). This turned out not to be the case. The exact same craziness existed without the former leader. And because of that, the new leader left too. And then the next leader left. You get the picture. (Ms. Theologian has also seen this go on in churches quite a bit as well as more corporate environments. This is not a nonprofit issue)

What is the moral of this story? Set aside the individuals involved and the actual tasks they do. Focus on the dynamics. Dynamics can remain static even when people shift in and out of positions. So when you consider taking your old company back, first go there, hang out for a while and talk to the assistants, who know what really goes on, chat with your former coworkers, take a few to lunch, meet with your prospective bosses, and then ask yourself if anything has changed.

-Ms. Theologian

P.S. If you'd like to write to Ms. Theologian, send an email to ms dot theologian at gmail dot com.