Getting older is a natural pathway we all cannot fight. It happens. I am turning 63 on Thursday. This year has been one of a lot of changes with me. I have not accepted them graciously. It has nothing to do with how I look as I don’t see a lot of change in the mirror. I think it is partially the fading of some of my vision. My physical condition has deteriorated a lot but there is little outside appearance of that other than a limp.
I have become obsolete at my job. It is very difficult for me to handle. I used to be enmeshed in every project, every improvement plan, and in charge of at least one major strategic initiative for the agency for the past five years. I felt needed. I thrive on multiple assignments. Now I am obsolete.
We became a Lean organization and it was my job to get Lean embedded in the organization. I was initially in charge of the whole Lean reorganization until the Medical Center decided to put someone from there who was much more experienced in Lean in charge. I was fine with that. But she took over everything. I will call her WtF. WtF was so dominating and controlling that many people struggled working with her, not just me. She got several people fired who had been with the company many years. All the time WtF was there, there was this undercurrent of fear that people had and rightly so. She had the CEO’s ear. She had her minions and she had her enemies. I was needed by her so I was neither. I know she permanently wanted to come into the agency but that was not part of her contract with the Med Center.
I was on the board that over saw all the projects. I was on about five other projects as a team member. The first project done was the changeover to a new capture system for billing for the aides. it was an ugly power struggle through out the project. The Director of the Aides (31 years with the agency) and the Director of IT (12 years) were the co-captains. They both ended up getting fired afterwards because of fighting or not getting along with WtF.
There was so much turmoil and change. Our financials were terrible. People were very unhappy, scared and some were just angry. It has been an unpleasant place to work for a long time.
About a year later, WtF was going to be leaving according to her contract and we needed a governing body to continue the Lean initiative. A small board was formed and I was not asked to sit on it. I was devastated. I knew it was because of WtF. They announced the group of five and they were all the minions of WtF. One of them had no Lean experience at all and was not on any committees. The next day after they announced the group, the CEO came over to my office and asked me to join the group. I was crushed and it showed completely. I did say yes, but by then, I was trashed. The damage was done. I was insulted that I was an afterthought. I look back now and I see that was the turning point in my career.
I was a captain of the Culture of Improvement initiative and earning my certification to be a Lean Practitioner.I did complete my project and it took over a year. I would have been the first but I had to fight with WtF to get certified. She was in charge of saying who was getting certified. There were other people who were winding up their projects and those she liked got through easily. Those she did not, she fought with and had a harder time to get certified. It was so apparent and so unfair but the Administration was so blinded by WtF they allowed her. After she left, we certified five more people.
It will be two years this August when we first met for Lean. We won a huge award for the work done in the agency for Lean. The proposal for the award included a huge portion of the work I did in getting Lean imbedded the organization. The minions all went to the dinner and ceremony, even though they really had little to do with the initial projects that the award was based on. I did not go to the ceremony.
Meanwhile, these new younger folks are now the stars of the agency. At first it was a slow progression of responsibilities. But now they are in charge of a lot. The one who had the least amount of Lean experience was made the Director of our Lean initiative. (Really, I know). I already see a slipping in the progress we made and projects stalling or failing.
I have watched several other projects that I was in charge of slowly slip out of my hands and into theirs. And of course, they don’t want my help. It is not their fault. And the truth is: I am not volunteering for anything anymore. I am not the first to raise my hands and say, “oh I will do it”. I am tired of working so hard for so long. So I am responsible for this change too. I do not trust anyone now. I do not want to fight and I do not want to get hurt. In truth, I want out.
I am the oldest Director in the whole agency now. I am older than everyone on the Administration team including the CEO. That’s scary. Four of the six administrators have less than three years with the agency. There were so many changes in the last three years. I guess it is a case of out with the old and in with the new.
I am hurt. I am wounded. I did so much for this agency for the last six years. And now I am being put out to pasture. I remember thinking that there were people who should retire when I first came there. There were many nurses and managers who had been with the company for over twenty five years. The Directors were my age or older with significant experience and education. (That’s another thing: Directors are supposed to have Masters and only three of the eight of us have a Masters.) Two of the original Administrators that were there when I started were older and have since retired or were made to retire. Only two of the directors who were there when I started are still there. Four directors were fired and one demoted.
How did I get to be one of the old fogies who need to retire?
It’s not like I all of a sudden became stupid. Yes, I walk slower but that’s because of my arthritis. I see the committees I still sit on going through the same “stuff” that has been the issues forever there. It is like a hamster wheel and there are new hamsters. Life is a made up of circles and maybe now it is time for me to get off this one.
I want to either retire, or I want to find something that to do that will make a difference in the world. I prefer the second choice as I think I am still able to do something worthy. I think it is sinful how we treat our elders in this country. We remove them from being productive and then warehouse them until they die. I do not want to go that route.