Double-crossed: A decade in IT goes down the drain

A loyal, productive techie learns the harsh reality of cutthroat corporate culture at a large company

Though you hear of stressful conditions for employees in IT, it’s easy to think it won’t happen to you: You’re at a good company, you’re loyal, and all indications point to management valuing your work. But it can all change—quickly.

I went through an experience that taught me hard lessons about working for a large business. At the time, I had completed my first decade in IT at a very large global company. I had received four promotions and was on the fast track for more. My yearly performance reviews were positive, and I worked well with dozens of close colleagues. Up to that point, I had never dreamed of leaving the company. However, at the end of one year all of that started to change—and to this day, I still don’t know why nobody could tell me what was going on.

For about five years, I led one of the company’s tech teams for a fast-changing initiative that spanned multiple business units and covered many areas that required me to stay up to speed. We made good progress, but I couldn’t get anyone in management to address the problems that came with this initiative.

As we worked on policies and procedures, I brought up concerns about these problems and offered ideas on how to deal with them, including researching a tech solution that would both help us fix the problems we currently had and add further functionality for users.

Usurper on the scene

But every quarter or so when I would bring up the topic, the highest leadership in the company always replied, “We don’t have a major problem today,” and “That’s a lot of money to spend,” and basically told me to stop talking about it. In the meantime, our team kept dealing with recurring issues that could’ve been avoided if the leadership had approved the money.

The year when everything went south, another manager entered the picture. He was on the same level as me, but in a separate IT group and had never worked with the technology my team was in charge of. He went to a conference put on by a company whose tech solution I had already researched. When he came back from the conference, he told everyone how powerful it was—singing its praises in general terms but never explaining how it would specifically help our business and solve our challenges. However, the higher-ups listened and gave him the go-ahead to purchase it.

Around that time, I noticed the same manager started coming to my team meetings and gradually took over my management tasks and making decisions for the group. I asked upper management what was going on, and they brushed me aside without an answer. I asked for clarity from HR and others, but was told nothing, though it was clear to me that I was being replaced. Because I’d had a positive experience for years at the company, I remained hopeful that we could resolve this matter or someone would offer an explanation.

Unexplained events

I soon discovered otherwise. I was assigned to an IT support job hours away from home with no relocation package or assistance in commute or living costs. The situation dragged on for months, which was tough on family life. No one in management or HR was able to offer a solution or even give me an answer as to what had happened or why. I liked the company, but finally had to abandon hope that I would be given any explanation or a chance to request a different position. I eventually moved on to a new job at a different company.

In the end, at a company with tens of thousands of employees, it took only two or three individuals to push me aside, and no one owned up to it. I had enjoyed my work at this company and would’ve stayed for life, but the sum of all these events led me to leave. It was a hard way to learn a lesson about how business can really work.

Do you have an IT story of a scheming co-worker, blowhard boss, or office politics run amok? Send your true tale to offtherecord@infoworld.com, and if we publish it we’ll send you a $50 AmEx gift card and keep you anonymous.