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Imaginary Conversation

I have a new boss. Actually, my boss's boss's boss's -- or, in correct corporatese, my manager's manager, manager -- is new. A man. Don't know him. Never heard of him before. He's from the IBM executive ranks. Took almost three months of searching (I know he's in here somewhere -- just stop and think, where did you last have him?) .

I work from home, Ashland, Oregon. My campus is up in Beaverton, outside Portland. I went there once, back in 2007, after the deal was done and IBM completed buying the company employing me then. My headquarters is in Atlanta, GA.

IBM practices trickle down communications and shotgun communications. Shotgun communications are marketing narratives about training opportunities, PR about what's happening in my campus, and notices about completing required annual training for the most part. Trickle down communications is about the projects and problems and issues we're facing. If my manager thinks I need to hear what she learned, based on what she's been told by her manager, according to the information and meetings he was privy to, I will be told what they think I need to know and then given the chance to ask questions. Ninety percent of the time this is through email but the other ten percent a conference call is used to drip us. Both are annoying. The email variant forces you to read through long threads and glean the salient points. The conference calls assumes we're all on the same page and have been privy to what's been going on to that point.

What you need to know depends upon your role. If you're in a revenue producing role, you need to know a lot. Marketing positions, you're told a little less while in accounting and finance, information becomes more limited. Down near the bottom is support, of which I belong.

Now if you're a support lead or a manager, you're told more. I am a service planner. I specialize in security hardware. It's a limited realm and a number of business controls and financial limitations inhibit the actual planning process. I am actually a bureaucrat. I fedd data into systems which are fed into other systems, which feeds other systems. When something goes awry with the system, they usually begin by asking me if it's my piece. This occurs about every other week. Flags and fields and field sizes define my 'piece'. The flags are 'yes' and 'no'.  They've been monitored, edited, revised and used by a dozen experts and hundreds of others. In short, my piece rarely has anything wrong because it's limited in scope.

Bottom line of all that: I don't get much information. It amounts to two town hall meetings once a quarter, one hundred company emails a week, three conference calls a week. One town hall meeting is hosted by the division's senior leaders. The second one is just our support community, hosted by my manager's manager's manager's manager's manager.

Each quarterly town hall call are scheduled for one hour. They usually start five minutes late. The last five to ten minutes are devoted to questions. Slides are presented and the meetings' gist is expenses, revenue flow and comparisons with expectations.

Based on all of this, I expect to hear my manager's manager's new manager once a quarter, for twelve to fifteen minutes. Since I'm not in a customer facing position, which means, in these austere economic times, there is no travel money, I don't expect to ever meet him.

Which is okay. I haven't seen my manager and his manager for 18 months and have heard my manager's manager voice three times this year.  My manager's manager is her second manager in that 18 months.

But I received a chat. (Yes, we use chat based on our computer network. You log in each morning with your status, where you can be reached, etc.) The chat said, the new manager wants to meet everyone in the department. Where is my nearest IBM location so we can meet?

I explained my sit and they responded, oh, wow, thanks!

That was a week ago. I figure sometime I'll get a call from the new manager or more likely, a conference call will be set up with all of us remote outlyers. It'll be a one hour call. He will ask each of us to say who we are and what we do. He will chat with us a few minutes, give us a quick rundown on who he is, how excited he is to be part of this 'team' and make a few promises about meeting us someday. He will ask us if we have any questions. I won't have any questions.

I've been practicing my conversation, in case he ever calls. It's good to be prepared.