Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pixie's forecast: anxiety with a chance of optimism

Less than a week after he was laid off from DA, Elliot had an interview at my husband Guy's office.  This is good news indeed--Guy's boss took one look at his resume and wanted to chat with him the next day.  According to Guy, he'd like to hire Elliot even if they didn't immediately have a project for him to work on because he's a good catch.  He's fairly affordable as an architect but has plenty of experience in healthcare architecture.  I hadn't seen Vinnie in a while and related this to him this afternoon during a happy hour in LoDo.  Vinnie swirled the ice in his highball glass and looked into it.  "Som'n tells me that DA is going to regret letting go such good architects instead of some dead weight associates," he mused.
"Did I tell you that Wayne was finally laid off?" I mentioned.
"Really?!" Vinnie's eyes jerked back to mine. "That was beyond overdue!"  He swirled his ice again and drained the last of his drink from it.  "You know, though, why they kept you...?"
"Yeah," I replied.  "I'm cheap.  I'm really good at what I do, and I do it for less than $60,000 a year."
"Well, you're underpaid, which may not be a bad thing right now," he concurred as he caught the bartender's eye.  "But you really may be that good at what you do that they want to keep you for when the work comes back."

I'd sure like to think so.  I realize that this blog is all from my point of view, and it's entirely possible that I make myself sound a whole lot cooler and more competent than I actually am.  But there must be an element of competency to why I've been kept for so long.  Vinnie and I also discussed the fact that I've been able to engage in some appropriate politics, such as tooting my own horn without blowing it and doing things that add value and add to my profile (like running the office party decoration committee and creating and running the intern development seminars).  So even though the two projects I'm supposed to work on next are both on hold for the next one to ten days (I know, nice precise window there, huh?), I'm helping out our small commercial project team (banks and small offices under 5,000 sf).  It's been a weird experience for the past couple of days.  After Thursday's layoffs, Alex strongly encouraged everyone to make billable as many of their hours as possible, which means that the volume of typical healthcare rooms and equipment types that i'd been building in Revit for the past couple of months was about to be almost shut completely down.  I mentioned this to Sven, a partner with whom I'd been working since November, and he seemed a little surprised.  "But if we don't do these kinds of things now, when will we do them?  This is the perfect time to do all those cleanups and organizing of things that we've all said we need to do for the past five years."

I was chatting with Sven because I was in a state of anxiety this morning when I ran out of things to do.  The small commercial team runs at a different pace that to which I'm accustomed.  The interns move at my speed, but not the people at my level, the job captains.  So contracts aren't signed and decisions aren't made and even after being given three things to do in a day, I've busted them out, made all the phone calls that I can, and done all that can be done until decisions are made.  So I suddenly found myself unoccupied at 10:45am today, and I felt slightly ill.  I hadn't had to scramble for work in a couple of months, but now if working on the healthcare library in Revit was pretty much off-limits, then what's a girl to do?

Sven gave me some direction on the master plan I'd been working on with him.  Two of the interns on the small commercial team needed help getting some RFIs done.  Right on.  I was being assigned work by people who didn't outrank me, and it didn't bother me a bit.  I just wanted to be useful and productive.  However, and I think I've talked about this before, but at some point it's the job of the people who outrank me to keep me busy.  By the end of the day, I had things to do, and I'll ahve a few hours' worth to do tomorrow, which will suit me fine.  Just a few hours of work, and then I'll go home and do some writing and enjoy my weekend, guilt-free.

1 comment:

bluearchitecture said...

As for why DA is keeping you around, I know a good amount of larger firms are run my people who are somewhat close to retirement. I'm sure they've thought about the next generation of architects (the generals) who will run the firm after them, but maybe they're realizing that the firm needs to start developing the next generation upper management (the corporals).

If your firm has any clue of what they're doing they will see this downturn as a tremendous opportunity to train the right people and to improve the systems for delivering projects. If you're not cutting down trees then you should be sharpening the blade.