Should I Look Elsewhere For Work?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about uncertainty about future with the company:

I started with a small company four years ago that had two oilfield trucks and was hired to run one of them. Since then, the boss-owner made several suggestions that I could buy in and then revoked the offers. He took on a partner for 8 months and then the situation went sour and the partner left. The company has struggled along with approx 30 employees coming and going in the last three years. All the while I have remained faithful to him. We added two more oilfield trucks and expanded into municipal line video inspection with two more units. Since that I was around since the beginning of the line inspection, I have been tasked with running and developing this part of the business and attempts are to be made to make it year round viable by diversifying farther into plumbing etc.

On the oilfield side, one year ago the owner hired a dispatch fellow who looks after the daily workings of the field operations for these trucks while I spent the winter pulling wrenches in the shop. Up until last spring when I was tasked with line inspection full time, I would basically do pretty much anything that needed done, and the boss recognized that I was skilled at most aspects. He relied on me for business development strategies, operating his units, training his men, tracking and repairing of all equipment and farming out major mechanical jobs. Since the spring, I have run the Line inspection for the 2nd summer season almost single-handed (training and losing several helpers). All clients are satisfied and the typical summer busy season is coming to an end with little or no help on any ones part to sell winter work while I was busy taking care of daily field work for the last 6 months.In the meantime the oilfield dispatch fellow has hired two brother-in-laws, one best friend, two people from his home town, two ex co-workers from another company where he used to work, and three guys from where he originates (different part of Canada).

In addition, the boss is adding thee new units to the oilfield fleet for the upcoming busy winter season and is hiring a full time mechanic.Bottom line is that while I was moved more or less away from the oilfield part of the business, big changes have taken place and the dispatch fellow has surrounded himself with a CONNECTION of close buddies. I do not really see eye to eye with them. They all appear to have dependency problems of smoking pot and drinking, (known but ignored by the boss), and have developed a peer group of your either in or your out.I have spoken to the boss about how this peer group has pushed out several employees through intimidation, and he does not want to hear this. I also advised him that it is not a healthy business decision to have all the eggs in the same basket. He does have some issues with this as the dispatch fellow and boss did have a few disagreements about the jobs not getting done right with the result being that the dispatch guy threatens to quit and the crew likely to follow. The boss backs off as the company now carrying fairly good debt with all the new truck purchases.

Bottom line is I am coming into the time of the year where the proven line inspection work runs out and NO other people have helped for planning for this. The dispatch fellow and his crew do not care to help me even though I have trained them, fixed their trucks, and bent over backwards with non-paid salary overtime helping them. I have spoke to the boss, and he wants me to do sales and find work for the line inspection/plumbing stuff; however, he will not let me purchase any significant equipment as his debt in oilfield trucks is now 1 Million plus. This leaves me trying to find work with limited tools, no support staff (one employee I supervise now will be moving on soon as he knows there is no work after next two projects) and when I do find the work it will require that I complete it myself or/and hire and train another helper.

Questions are as follows: 1-How do I break through the CONNECTION of buddies that do not want me around for fear of me ruining there free for all they got GOING ON? 2-How do I single-handedly grow a diversified line inspection plumbing business by myself with little or no support staff and small budget? 3-Am I cracked or is the Boss just using me until the season is over and all the tasks that I once took care of for him or being taken care of by the CONNECTION and the Oilfield business is producing well enough he can just scrap the line inspection stuff? 4- Should I just say &$% it and move on now before I play this out to the bitter end and get left with bugger all?

Signed, Sincerely Confused

Dear Sincerely Confused:

This story is very troubling. I see many significant problems, although you seem like a concerned and dedicated employee. The boss and the dispatcher don’t seem to care as much as you do! What comes across is this: Although the boss had some good ideas to diversify and expand the business initially, he seems to have lost control of his business and is being intimidated by the dispatcher and his friends. There has been high turnover, which indicates bad hiring, and/or bad management practices. The dispatcher and his friends have formed a clique and are apparently into drugs and alcohol, with the boss looking the other way. That’s very dangerous around machinery.

The clique has apparently pushed several other employees out. You are left with little resources or commitment from the owner to succeed in the line inspection area. The picture I see is of a sinking ship, largely because the boss seems to lack management skill or good judgment. To answer your questions:

1. I doubt that you can cut through or break through the clique that has formed. Would you want to be involved with doing drugs and bad work? That doesn’t sound like you anyway.

2. Although your persistence and desire to succeed is admirable, I’m not sure the boss understands his business well enough for this to work out. Does he have any business education or training? You shouldn’t have to run the show for him and I’m not sure he would appreciate your efforts if you did.

3. It’s hard to be sure what the boss is up to but given the mess that exists, do you really see a future for yourself there?

4. If I was in a situation like that, which I have experienced, I would be doing what I could to find other opportunities so I could make as smooth a transition as possible to another job. I don’t know how the job market is where you live, and I’m not suggesting that you quit suddenly. That could leave you with financial problems. Do you think you might find other opportunities in a month or two? If so, I would put in my time for now and keep my thoughts to myself, while looking for new possibilities. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. Maybe it is time for you to move on to something better, although only you can make that decision.I really hope things improve for you! Getting to a better WEGO place requires taking care of you sometimes. Do keep us posted on your efforts. The Workplace Doctors

Steven H. Carney