John was a Financial controller and Financial Manager for an interstate Branch of a large Food Wholesaler Corporation. Head Office was located in another state so John reported to a Supervisor in the Finance Department.
He ran this office made up of 2 females and 1 male assistant that reported to him.
Both females looked after Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable respectively. It was a rather odd situation because this young assistant was in charge hired by Malcolm (John’s Supervisor). But although this person had a Masters in Accounting it turned out that he was incapable of running this office. Ultimately John was hired with a lot of errors and work to be done especially in the Receivables area. Not totally confirmed but this assistant was set up to report on John’s movements and activities to Malcolm. A rather precarious situation. Nonetheless John treated and taught this assistant without any prejudice. John felt that this person did not spy and report on everything due to this treatment.
Although John’s position was very demanding he enjoyed his job because he interacted with approximately 60 odd personnel. This involved the State Manager who ran the whole show and all the other managers such as Marketing, Sales, Warehouse, Administration, HR, and Distribution. So in this case John was 2IC for the Branch.
Apart from reporting weekly and monthly John reported to Head Office to Malcolm , a rather friendly smallish built person who later turned out to be nasty and vindictive.
At this stage of his employment his supervisor Malcolm was heavily involved in trialling and testing new software called “SAP” (German made) to be installed in a couple of months. The time of the year was October hoping that this new program would be migrated at the end of November coming to the most critical time in handling the lucrative Christmas business in time.
John was also responsible for the IT side of the branch. One task was to backup data (tapes) on a daily basis, updates and the ancillary issues for a battery of 7 servers including approximately 20 computer stations. Although his highest qualification was a Degree in Accounting he was very familiar and experienced in IT environments. The strange part at this moment was that Malcolm for some unknown reason did not want John to be involved in debugging and reviewing the new software. John felt out of this not being included. Maybe Malcolm had plans to transfer or replacing him. Anyone would have thought the same.
Back at home John’s partner needed a hip replacement operation so a week off was approved to accommodate some recovery time. Prior to leaving for the break it was clearly discussed that since this new SAP had been trialled the Tax figures were not correct. Malcolm was advised to contact the consultants as the Tax report was due while John was away. He was assured by Malcolm not to worry and this will be taken care of. In hindsight this was only lip service. As it turned out Malcolm turned out a different man after John working out with him for the last 5 years.
Timeshare was the solution. So John organised a week away with his partner Debbie and enjoyed a good break from the pressures of work.
One of the accounting counterpart across the channel Cheryl enjoyed a good relationship with John who collaborated and cleared up a lot of miscalculations and allocations of accounts from the previous operator. He was respected by Cheryl and got on very well. Never met face to face but she advised John all the time of what the humdrum was at Head Office.
Coming back from leave was a reception John will never forget. His desk was moved and the 2 people that reported to him were placed in a different area. His computer was open and files had been deleted. Other personnel at the Branch got on with John very well. So it did not take long before he found out what actually occurred while he was away.
His Boss had travelled from interstate to the Branch. Something that only happened once a year. He had already been so this was a special visit. He logged in John’s computer and claimed to have found porn emails. Company policy dictated that no such porn was to be forwarded but deleted. It appeared that Malcolm forwarded these emails to HR Head Office.
There is no doubt here about Malcolm’s intentions. John’s career was in the balance. This was an obvious attempt to discredit John’s character and position. Wondering what had actually caused all this angst John approached Malcolm and asked why is he reacting that way.
His reply was that his position got compromised because the Tax report was not submitted in time and his Manager was not pleased with the outcome. John reminded Malcolm about the discussion they had prior to him going on leave. Malcolm denied it and he said that he has put John on report for dereliction of duties. From here on the situation went downhill.
The work relationship with the boss was deteriorating fast. In a big corporation such a report is the dead knell for a career internally and externally. The accounting profession can be quite incestuous at times and anything negative causes a lot of grieve.
An approach was made to HR about this relationship but no solutions were forthcoming. It was only suggested that a psychiatrist may be consulted and paid by the employer. After going for an hour session with a psychiatrist John realised that no solution was available and the only consolation that he got from this professional was “to resolve the situation as this can be stressful” or to take legal action to resolve.
After careful consideration John decided that he would resign the position. Normal work was still being attended to. Christmas was coming very close and business was getting very busy. The accounting function of his position included being responsible for invoicing anything from $1M to $1.5M worth of goods every month.
With a heavy heart and at the same time a kind of relief John worded a simple document and resigned giving notice for a month which would have coincided with Christmas break.
There was a buzz in the office which surprised all around. John would hardly discuss the situation. However, Bruce the Branch manager was very sympathetic and dumbfounded. An extraordinary episode occurred just after the resignation was handed in. It was suggested by others to use the large amount of accumulated sick leave and leave straight away. John was too proud to lower himself to that. The other thing that was extra extraordinary was that Malcolm had emailed HR that he wanted to let John go immediately and copied emailed to John.
Very disheartened John packed up his belongings and personal effects and was prepared to walk out and say goodbye to all. At this moment divine intervention was the go because not long after this a power shortage happened across the State causing electricity shortages for approximately 4 million households and businesses . Since John was in charge of the servers he quickly advised Head Office to shut down the servers. The UPS (uninterrupted power supply) would only last 10 minutes. ( All servers were controlled by HO). The cause was later found to be a fire on the national grid.
The people that John had worked with had already organised a send-off party for John. He was respected by all. The State Manager Bruce did ask John if he could hang around so they could have a small gathering to say goodbye properly. John agreed to stay for another day. In the meantime, no one had any ideas the damage the outage had done. All the CISCO switches burnt out and the IT system was completely non-operational.
As John surveyed the situation Head Office had not shut off the servers. It was thought because John was on the way the advice was ignored. The final report was that new switches will be shipped from interstate overnight and would have to be restored urgently because of the Christmas orders that are on the way.
Bruce begged John to stay and fix but not blaming the man he agreed to fix what he could and would still leave the next day. Orders were piling up and these could not be picked or invoiced. In spite of what had happened John agreed to install one switch which gave them access to the Database and the capacity to pick and invoice from 4 stations only.
The next day the switch arrived and John installed it. All the orders were being processed as a small party was taking place.
John kept in touch with a lot of other staff members over time. Only 2 years after this incident John was informed that Malcolm himself was dishonourably dismissed as the CFO of the corporate giant after serving 20 years with them.
No vengeance of satisfaction but in John’s mind crossed the thought that maybe there is a God after all.
All his loyalty to his job and employer was misdirected no matter what the outcome was.
“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”
Well done John