Thursday, September 20, 2018

Karma, or something like that

Last year, about this time of year, I hired into a company called Mobis, in Detroit.
Last year, I wrote this about it:

As you may have read here, my work life has been interesting this year.
In that last post about work life, I said that I was about to start a new job.
Let me tell you about that.

When I interviewed for the position, I was sent a job description that was for a different position than the one I was applying for.
I was applying for Assistant Maintenance Manager, which (from the description I was given verbally) seemed more a Maintenance Manager position by another name. The job description that was mailed to me was for a Controls Manager, something I was actually more interested in.

I met with two guys for the interview (let's call then Steve and Tim, because that's their names), one (Tim) being the Plant Manager and the other (Steve) being the Engineering Manager.

They both seemed impressed with what I could offer them and we discussed both roles. They said that they wanted to hire me and would figure which role for me to take later.

I started my first day, but was not given an assignment, so I made it a point to go out on the factory floor and familiarize myself with the processes. While on the floor, I met the Maintenance Manager, who had not been at the interview, and who had not been mentioned to me. That was perplexing.

I ended up staring at a robot assembly cell (EPS, electronic power steering) that just shouted opportunity for improvement. As I was taking notes, Steve walked up behind me and asked what I was doing. He then assigned me to continue developing a plan for improvement of that cell as it was a big bottleneck for them. He also said that they were still deciding on which position I would take and that I would have a voice in that decision.

Over the next few days, I did just that. I called vendors for parts to improve the gripping of the part. The Maintenance Manager had told me that since the cell (and all the equipment on the floor) had been built in Korea, there were replacement parts that he could not source and asked me to find sources.
I started doing that also.

At the end of the second week there, I gave Steve a three page document with a plan to improve the EPS cell.
He then told me that he had just been tasked by the COO (above Tim) to get all the equipment programs (robots, controllers, vision, touchscreens) backed up as soon as possible. I told him I would begin on it Monday.

On Monday I started to inventory all the equipment to be backed up.
I was then introduced to a new hire, Geoff, about my age, as the new Controls Manager.  ???
The project I was working on would normally fall to someone in that role, so I assumed he would be taking it over. In talking to Geoff, he said that he also had been awarded that project, but that he actually wasn't the Controls Manager, that his role was still to be determined. I said I would be happy to work with him on the project, but was confused by the situation. He was also.

In the meantime, this Korean based company was changing it's internal IT system to force every document to be stored in their proprietary cloud.
There were a lot of problems.
I could not take a video of a process and plug my phone into my laptop and transfer the video. The software would not allow it. I could not share it on a server with others for discussion. You could not write to a thumb drive. IT called the new system the MVirus as it was causing them so many problems.
For someone to share a powerpoint presentation, they ended up putting their phone under a camera connected to a projector which would then project the images on the phone's display!
I sat in a training session and asked how we could possibly share large Autocad or Solidworks files with each other, vendors or customers and was told that we could not. Incredible.

One afternoon, I went to the maintenance office to suggest to the purchaser where she might get a replacement part mentioned earlier.
Tim, the Plant Manager followed me into the office. He asked how it was going and I told him about the suggestions I had given Steve. The Maintenance Manager was standing there and asked if I had copied him. I said no, but if he'd like, I would. He got a little upset and said that I should. He then turned to Tim and asked in a very abrupt manner, exactly who I reported to. Tim told him that I reported to the Maintenance Manager, of course. This was the first I heard this.
The Maintenance Manager then demanded I move my desk into his office.
I did the next day. He then gave me some assignments he wanted me to do.
While I was doing some of this, Steve came up to me and asked if I got his email. I said I had not. He said I should have. I showed him my phone, that I had not. I asked what he had wanted to communicate to me. He said he was scheduling a meeting about the software backup project, drop what I was doing and proceed with that.
I found Geoff and asked how I could help. He said he was still planning and would get back to me. I asked him to call me if he heard of the meeting Steve mentioned being scheduled. I went back to my desk to work on what the Maintenance Manager had asked me to do.
At 2:57 PM, Steve showed up at my desk and asked if I was coming to his meeting. I told him that I had not received a notification. Just then, an Outlook popup appeared on my laptop. I told him I would be there and he walked away.
I looked at the notification. It had been sent only a few minutes prior, but the meeting was scheduled for an hour earlier! Whatever.
I walked up front, found Geoff and we went to the meeting.
Steve lumbered in, sat in front of Geoff and began to question him about his progress (in an unfriendly manner). Geoff replied that he was still trying to figure out where all the equipment to backup was, as he was new to the plant.
Steve told him that that was no excuse, that he himself had to learn the plant floor in a short time.
He then turned to me and asked what I had been doing.
I told him I was doing what the Maintenance Manager had me do while trying to support Geoff. He asked why I was doing that. I said that since I reported to the Maintenance Manager, I felt I should do what he asked. Steve said that the decision as to my role had not yet been made. I said that that was interesting as Tim had told me otherwise. Steve stared at me with his mouth open for roughly twenty seconds after which he closed it, and then said, "You are dismissed from this meeting.".
I said "Thank you" and left.
The next day, the Maintenance Manager told me that my new priority was to assist Geoff on the backup project. I did that.
I had also come in on Sunday afternoon and reprogrammed the EPS robot at the request of the Production Manager. The changes I made reduced it's downtime to zero for three days after implementation.
On Thursday morning, at a standup meeting presided by Tim, the Production Manager congratulated me on my accomplishment with the EPS Robot and asked that I apply similar magic to the robot next to it. Tim then assigned me to do so. The supervisors and managers standing around me patted me on the back.
Twenty minutes later, Steve found me and asked me to come up front with him.
We went into an office wherein I met the new HR manager.
I was then informed that I was being terminated.
I asked why and was informed that it was because of the disrespect I had shown Steve in a meeting. When I asked which, I was told I knew. When I insisted, I was told it was the one where I had said that I reported to the Maintenance Manager. I was then also told that I had spent too much time on my phone and that I just wasn't showing the initiative they required.
I asked the HR Mgr if it was normal to terminate someone with no progressive discipline. She replied that they were an "at will" employer.
I thanked them for saving me the decision to quit such an insane organization.
Being fired isn't always the negative it seems to be.
This was the second time I had been fired in one year!
But as bad as that sounds, if you are not suited for a position or vice versa, either you quit or you are fired. It doesn't mean you are unemployable or a bad person.

Last night I got a call from a recruiter, looking for a Maintenance Manager.
I asked where the job was geographically because they often don't want to tell you who it is.
I said Detroit is a big town.
He said Fort Street.
I asked if it was Mobis and he said yes.
I told him the above and he was happy to hear it.
He didn't want to poison his name with people he was trying to place.
In retrospect, I think it would have been cool to have him submit my resume and interview.


  1. I imagine they're reaching the point they're desperate. That much lack of of organization, obvious production problems, and people that are too willing to play politics can poison a company. In the long run, if larger corporations are involved, they either sell, or send a professional head roller for taking care of business.

    1. Yep. I don't know how it's sustainable.
      At the lower levels, there was tons of competence.

  2. Ed, yea, you should have submitted the offer,then when they called for you, give them a piece instead explaining you didn't know it was going to be this incompetently managed dysfunctional dumpster fire of a company. Nevermind !

    1. I might still look around for another headhunter to submit. :)

  3. Had a job like that once.

    For about a week.....

  4. Haha! Here is the most recent review from Indeed for this company (was this from you Ed?)...
    Never ever work for this company as you will be sidelined by Koreans. They make all the decisions from spending to what u should listen and do, no matter if you are a manger or a regular employee. The company is a joke and sell low graded products such as lights, steering system and brakes. why there is a big turn over because they like to control your actions. This company is a shame to North American auto industry as its full of expats who controls everything and doesnt know anything about NA market, they are just good for ramen and kimchi

    1. Hah! No, that wasn't me.
      But it spells it out.
      Control freaks.
      One of their complaints was that I was on the phone too much.
      There were two reasons for that.
      One was to locate parts and service, part of my job, and the other was answering calls from recruiters.

  5. We called them "The Cleaners"-- people that come in to find us old (30 year employees) with uppity salaries, long vacations earned, still active pensions, reasons to fire without an age discrimination suit.
    So much for the retirement party and gold watch. Just brought back a couple of memories here.