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Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

No Rear View Mirrors

No need to look back

Published: Monday, January 11, 2010 - 08:30

Besides penning a column periodically for Quality Digest Daily, I also write for a number of other newspapers and publications. One of those columns for a paper distributed in Michigan and neighboring states is entitled, “Retired… (and lovin’ it).” But here’s the dilemma. The more I talk to people who are still in the work force and hear their stories of incompetent managers, ambiguous directions from supervisors, secret meetings, December dismissals, and other mind-numbing workplace activities, I'm starting to think that column title should be updated to read, “Retired… (and really, truly lovin’ it).” 

The current workplace for many people has become a tinderbox of infighting, brutal competition, confusion, and frustration. I base this on feedback I receive from readers. Each time I publish a column about business or management, I'm inundated with e-mails and letters from people who find themselves in an unmemorable work environment. Many people I talk to are hoping to receive their “walking papers” so that they can receive a financial package, which often includes one-year salary with benefits—which is a very sad commentary on our times. 

And yes, I realize that unemployment in the nation, and in particular in Michigan, is at alarming levels and finding another job is difficult. But given the choice of working in a dysfunctional work environment or changing careers, the latter seems to be a better choice. A recent survey in AARP magazine illustrated that 71 percent of people who were laid off or whose business closed found a new job. Here is a statistic that should hasten one’s trip out the door of a dysfunctional company—those people who quit were among the 89 percent who found a job either in an alternative career path or in the same line of work. To further illustrate why changing jobs may be the path to take, 91 percent of people who changed jobs say that they enjoy working in the new company; in their previous company, the satisfaction rate was only 79 percent. 

When’s the best time to look for a new job? Most people agree that looking for a job while at another job is the optimum situation. The best way to find that ideal position is by networking. Talk to friends in the business world and find out where there may be openings. Research companies that are announcing new products or services and then make some inroads with people you may know who work there. Once you land that new position, never look back. Several years ago I encountered the sign, “No rear view mirrors,” emblazoned on the office wall of a career consultant, and I think that says it all. In fact, I think that saying rings true for everyday life, too. 

Now you say, sure Bill, you are retired and don’t understand why changing jobs is not an easy task. Well, I worked for 30 years at a local bank and enjoyed steadily increasing responsibilities and titles. When we learned that a merger was imminent with another bank, I knew the drill—there would be layoffs and dismissals. As such, I started my search for another position and found one within two months. I then spent 10 years working with Governor Engler and it was a most rewarding experience. Then in 2003, the administration changed and I retired again. Now I am living a life of fun, excitement, and fulfillment. Am I glad to be out of the “rat race?" In some aspects, yes. There are a lot of jerks in the workplace but there are also numerous true colleagues and friends, many of whom I am still in contact with.  

My  message is this: If you do not enjoy what you are doing, move on. Life is too short to be miserable.

Just as an aside, I want to thank all of you who are still working and supporting me on social security and Medicare. Keep in mind that I am spending your money judiciously.


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.