Behr Culture

Do a Google search for the term "Behr Culture" and you'll be greeted with what appears on the surface to be a wonderful company with lofty ideals and goals, looking for motivated people who fit that same paradigm. It all sounds really great, and it should be no surprise that it's been effective in bringing people on board with the company. Even once one starts there, it may seem like it was everything they advertised. That it's all too good to be true. Well, you know what they say when something seems too good to be true, right?

First, allow me to preface this by saying that the people on the team I worked with have been nothing but the friendliest, kindest, most caring, easy going and helpful people I've ever worked with at any job. Indeed, one could hardly find fault on any team with those they work with. That's not where the problem lies. The problem lies with how those teams are managed within the company. That is where my personal beef lies. I am fully aware that expressing my opinion here could be seen as vindictive, and may well damage my prospects for employment elsewhere, but as regular visitors to my blog will know, I've also never been shy about expressing my opinions regardless of how controversial they may be. My co-workers are probably able to vouch for this as well.

There was already a hint in June of 2007 when I got my performance review from management for 2006. Several months late with no reasoning provided mind you. A violation of company policy, ironically enough. In it, there were several inconsistencies about my job performance and growth. Along with a few outright lies. The overall assessment was that I was an "average" employee even though the very text of the review sections themselves said otherwise. I was given several goals for improvement, which I met and had evidence to back it up. That's neither here nor there though.

My 2007 performance review was terribly inconsistent, full of contradictions, and included some outright lies.

First, the good stuff. According to statistics, I have ( or rather had ) the highest call volume, highest email volume, and highest resolution rate of anyone on the team. This amounted to literally thousands of calls, emails, and walk-ups a year. Heavily documented in the system. I've received a number of kudos from the customers I've helped and from other co-workers. Some of them coming from the highest levels of the company. I've trained no less than 10 new people on the help desk and passed on I don't know how much technical and troubleshooting knowledge to them to help get things up to speed quickly. I had more or less mastered the 5-day ramp up for new people on the desk. This despite training being something I never really liked. I've never received a single complaint about my training methods. I've continually passed along knowledge of things I learned, along with new information I've picked up in my wanderings on the net.

Some time back in October I had set plans to bring my car in for maintenance. Though I don't talk about it much here, I'm very proud of the fact that I was able to overcome past financial difficulties and secured the loan to purchase the car entirely on my own credit. The car is long since paid off, early, and I've been meticulous about taking it in for regular maintenance. Having been through the gauntlet of unplanned time off back in July to have a safety issue repaired ( ) I made an appointment for Saturday service. I figured this would prevent any problems from cropping up with management as Saturday is *NOT* a normally scheduled work day. On the Friday before this appointment, I was informed that I was to come in on Saturday to work. No advance notice. Not voluntary. Management had decided out of the blue to make it mandatory. I explained the situation and was told I was out of luck. I called the dealer and asked if my appointment could be rescheduled, but they strongly advised against that as I'd be unable to get another Saturday spot for at least a month. I found that unacceptable. So I did the only logical thing left - I called in sick the next day. I wasn't feeling very well anyway, so it wasn't a lie. Management, lacking proof, wrote me up as a no-call no-show for that day. Despite my having spoken to someone on the phone, leaving my supervisor a voicemail, *AND* emailing him to let him know. They didn't care - I was apparently lying. Go figure. I got HR involved, provided my evidence, and refused to sign the "corrective action" notice that resulted. It was during this meeting that I was told that not volunteering for overtime can and will be held against me as a refusal to be flexible with scheduling. Um..... WHAT? I don't know about you, but to me the word "voluntary" has a very specific meaning - that doing it is *NOT* required. The employee handbook doesn't even state anything about overtime being required as part of normal job duties.

Several months ago, I discovered a trouble ticket in our system that should have been close a long time ago. I did so, leaving the last person's comments standing in the ticket. I'm not sure if the information was later altered or if I honestly missed something, but I got a nasty note asking why I closed that ticket. Some several months after it actually happened. Naturally after so long a time I couldn't remember one way or the other. So once more I got hauled before the powers that be. I pointed out my side of things and offered what little I had. It was an innocent action, no foul intent. But since the write-up for it specifically stated I did it on purpose and refused to explain why, I refused to sign the acknowledgment form. Can someone explain to me why I should sign a document making a false accusation against me? They didn't even give me a copy of it.

In December it all blew up to hell and back. If you're still reading, please bear with me. :)

I had been tasked with training 2 new employees in the use of SAP related functions. This had become a normal part of my routine with newbies and it was not a huge deal. Both employees were trained up in a timely manner. All 4 of the help desk functions they needed were done, documented, and passed along the chain for proper approval in the system. Isn't SOX compliance wonderful? As it turns out, apparently one of these people was trained past some kind of deadline which didn't exist. I was never informed of any deadline. The second person was somehow in before this deadline, yet both people were trained on the same day - an hour apart. It's an inconsistency I can't resolve, and neither could management when - you guessed it - I was hauled before the powers that be. Apparently my "refusal" to comply with the deadline was a serious insubordinate act. When I tried to defend myself, I was more or less shut down and told that the evidence was crystal clear against me. Apparently lying through your teeth is a quality management needs to have. I refused to sign the "corrective action" notice once more. I'm sure I was already doomed by now anyway.

A high priority issue came into the help desk overnight on December 18. Keep in mind, I didn't work the overnight shift. According to policy, the person who opens the ticket is responsible for seeing it documented. This includes writing up any initial troubleshooting, finding out who is affected, how much of the facility is out of whack, what affect this will have on production for the company, and if there will be any financial impact from it. It is then the responsibility of the person to make contact with someone who can begin work to resolve the issue. Once that is done, policy requires that the supervisor for the desk be contacted to take over coordinating the resolution of the issue. All of this should take no more than 4 hours. According to the ticket, practically none of the required procedure was documented. No effort had been made to make contact with anyone who could resolve the issue. No call had been placed to the supervisor. And the employee left work at the end of his shift without ever informing anyone else there was even an issue. The ticketing system sends out an automated alert 15 minutes after a high priority issue is saved into the database. That alert goes to IT Operations, the supervisor, our department manager, and the VP of Operations. It was only because of this that the help desk supervisor finally sent an email - 2 hours after the issue was live - wondering what was going on. I took the initiative and checked on the ticket, finding none of the required work done. I attempted to call the necessary administrator. I sent email. I sent Sametime IMs. I got no response whatsoever from him. Keep in mind that during all this, we had a heavy call volume coming in so I was also manning the phones and resolving issues with other customers. I relayed this fact to our supervisor in an email response to him. When he arrived at work 20 minutes later I was again asked for status and informed him that I had just been able to reach the administrator and the resolution was underway. This was now almost 4 hours and nothing at all had been done. The initial person who began the ticket and did nothing with it - blatantly violating policy - didn't get so much as a slap on the wrist. What did I get for my efforts in trying to resolve the issue with 30 other calls going on in between? A nasty note about how I didn't do my job and how management was extremely disappointed with my "continuing insubordination". I guess it was the frustration of it all or something, but I responded in an aggressive manner pointing out my own disappointment in the process leading up to that point. Once more I was hauled before the powers that be, and once more I refused to sign the "corrective action" which only contained information stating I had refused to comply with the priority ticketing policy and had been "rude, abusive, and disrespectful" in my emailed response to management. It may have been aggressively worded, but it was entirely civil and was certainly not abusive. The hand is already writing on the wall at this point.

Enter December 24, Christmas Eve. This is a pre-scheduled company holiday. Nobody is expected to be on duty at any facilities. One of the very few perks the company has to offer. I had made plans to be out of town on that weekend. Since there was no expectation of my needing to be there, I didn't file for time off that day. I shouldn't have needed to. Two weeks prior to this, I had been approached about working the shift since Home Depot was going to be open and they needed a skeleton crew to cover in case a kiosk call came in. I declined at that time, stating I was going to be out of town, and the supervisor agreed and the conversation was over. Having already been burned on the issue of overtime before, I sent an email to both him and the department manager stating I was to be out of town that weekend. I marked it return receipt. Those return receipts were received and filed for later use. December 21 came, I left town, and as per the norm I turned off my cell phone. I nearly always stay out of contact when on holiday. I returned late on the 25th and returned to work on the 26th as expected. To my surprise, when I turned the cell back on, there was a message from my supervisor demanding to know why I hadn't reported as scheduled on the 24th. Since two days had already passed, I erased it and simply waited for him to come in. Turns out he was on vacation that week ( begs the question of how he would have known I wasn't at work.... ) and wouldn't be back until January 3. Plenty of time to gather my evidence and prove once and for all that I wasn't the one in the wrong here. He came back, as expected he had a "final chance for success" notice prepared and waiting. I guess his vacations hold a different meaning than mine. Once more, I was hauled before the powers that be. This notice not only made the entirely false claim that I was a "no call, no show" on the 24th but went on to further claim that I had been told 2 weeks in advance that the shift was mandatory, that I had agreed to work it, and that there was a return receipt generated by email proving I read the email followup confirming the scheduled day. There was of course only one problem - I had contradictory emails and return receipts proving otherwise. My only conclusion at that point was that he had forged the return receipt and the email it supposedly went to. It wasn't something I could prove for certain, but my own receipts caught him completely by surprise. Red faced and all, stammering to explain it, and unable to do so. I figured I had finally proven my case. HR refused to consider it, handed me yet another form full of lies and contradictions, and once more I refused to sign it. For good measure he had thrown in all of the previous incidents as "further proof of a pattern of insubordination and deceit". Uh... hello? Seriously, I have no idea what I did to bring the wrath of this guy down on me, but it was getting old. Oh, and that hand that's been writing on the wall was done. It was only a matter of time now. My bonus check got docked this time too, so the ante had been raised to financial attacks.

As part of the Christmas Eve pile of crap, I was informed that I had 9 unplanned absences on record since April of 2007. I dispute the claim, but even if true, an argument must be made for selective application of the rules. One must also consider that there was no formal policy in place on absences of any variety other than a vague statement in the handbook about "excessive unplanned absence". There were a number of times I got sick, likely due to the stress I was under. I usually don't get sick that often, but last year I did. The problem here is, I was by no means the only person to have "excessive" absences. There were people there who bragged about how many they had and that they'd gotten away with it. The policy wasn't even clarified until July of 2007. So if I was in danger of excessive absence violations, that should have been on my June review. It was not. If I had exceeded 5 before Christmas Eve, by policy I should have been written up for that. I was not. When I challenged them to log on and produce the Kronos time logs, they refused, stating I was in violation and that was that.

So we arrive at review time in February of 2008. This was to assess my performance over the last year, 2007. Apparently sensing I'd be prepared to contest it, the supervisor brought HR in to the meeting. A highly irregular procedure. Sure enough, it "documented" all of my supposedly bad behavior - while at the same time heaping praise on me for all of the really good things I've done for the company. It's well and truly a document for the ages. Something even the Democrats in Congress would be proud of. It read just like the same kind of Jekyl and Hyde nonsense from June of 2007. Only this time it seems they took turns writing the individual sections instead of one doing the first page and the other doing the second. Full of wonderful things about how professional, courteous, productive, helpful, unprofessional, rude, disobedient, and defiant I was. Sometimes even in the same sentences. Truly remarkable, creative as hell. But since it was full of lies, distortions, and contradictory claims, I refused to sign it. That went over well, you could tell by the angry dirty looks I got. Then came the status change form which is where you normally get the usual 2% standard raise. Keep in mind, Behr has no such concept as merit pay raises. So it's a total given that you'll get that 2% regardless. I've seen overtly aggressive, rude, defiant people in the past still come away with their oh so gracious 2%. Not today. Zero, zlich, nada. I was to have no advance in pay. Based on my "nasty attitude and poor performance" over the last year. They handed me the form, and a pen, and I put both of them back down on the table immediately without saying a word. Unsigned. I guess that was the last straw.

On Feb 22, I received an email informing me that the return receipt function had stopped working. As a result, I was to respond to every email sent to me by the supervisor until this function was fixed. Apparently I was expected to fix it, since I somehow mysteriously broke it. So far as I know, there is no way to disable return receipt in Lotus Notes. If you ask for one, it gets delivered whether the recipient wanted that to happen or not. I'm assuming for good reason, so people can't claim exactly what I was accused of. I consulted in secret with our Notes administrator and was assured there was no way to disable this, so he had no idea what was going on. So respond to every email I did. A tedious affair considering the guy sends several a day. I wrote a bot to acknowledge his emails after awhile. One that would also request return receipts. I got every last one of them, both from my manual responses and from the bot. You can probably guess where this is going by now. Powers that be. Lies about how I was continuing to be defiant and insubordinate for not complying with direct orders. I had the proof to show I was compliant. The HR manager took that proof, and marched it right into the shredder. So I ask, what exactly was I supposed to do then? Not only had my supervisor lied about return receipts not being generated, but now HR was actively campaigning against me by destroying my evidence as I presented it. It was only my own stupidity in not having run multiple copies that left me without backup evidence. Once more, a form was handed to me, along with a pen, and this time a verbal threat that if I didn't sign it, I'd be immediately escorted out of the building. I refused of course, at which point the bluff was called since I was allowed to return to my workstation.

We arrive now at March 6. In the middle of my shift, I get a random Sametime instructing me to report to HR. Upon arriving there, I found my supervisor, our department manager, and the HR manager waiting for me. Forms in hand, pens at the ready, they presented me with yet another bald faced lie. Apparently I had refused yet another direct order by not making calls to any stores on my assigned ATG day - also known as "become a telemarketer for a day" day by those of us on the desk. A quick overview of ATG. It's an automated monitoring system for the kiosks in Home Depot conceived of by marketing, implemented by IT, and strangely enough administered by some Canadian company who has nothing to do with us. In theory it is supposed to alert us to any potential problems with the kiosks in the stores. In practice, it's a complete failure. The system is full of bogus tickets that should have been closed out long ago, along with stores that don't even exist opening tickets. When called, the store personel are rude, abusive, and refuse to help. Yet this duty is required for all help desk people one day a week. And nobody likes doing it. Objections and concerns have been repeatedly raised, but for some reason IT and Marketing both continue to sink thousands of dollars into a failed system with no hope for resolution. They cite only that suppodely 3% of the tickets are junk and all of the others are legit. This simply isn't the case and any proper audit of the records would prove that. Anyway, that out of the way, supposedly I was found to not have done any ATG call-outs to stores on my assigned day this week. This isn't true, I placed plenty of calls, but when I was called before the powers that be one last time, the logs had been mysteriously purged of any information showing that I had made those calls. Consequently I had nothing to prove otherwise because we don't have access to those systems. All there was was a daily call sheet to log tickets that have been worked. This information too was altered to make it look like I had done very little if anything. I can't prove it, but that wouldn't have mattered anyway. So I put the pen and paper down on the table, once more refused to sign. At that point I was threatened point blank. Either I sign the paper or I'll be suspended pending investigation. Uh huh. Ok. My response was silence and continued refusal to sign the paper. I was suspended immediately and chased from the building by the supervisor.

So it should come as no surprise that I'm writing this after being formally terminated from the company. Citing simply that I was insubordinate. Absolutely no documented proof of it exists. The entire case is built upon lies. The supervisor knows it. The department manager knows it. The department VP knows it. The HR manager knows it. I went in today at 9am to have one last meeting and to see if they would follow through on any of their ethical obligations. Mainly would I get any due process or an opportunity to have a say. I was denied all of these things. Upon my arrival, the supervisor, department manager, the HR manager, and the HR rep I had been previously dealing with were all there. Along with a private security guard. I was handed my termination papers. I refused to sign those too. What are they going to do? Fire me? Have me arrested? So at this point all that remains is their legal obligations. Not surprisingly, they had those all in line ready to go. My final check, and all of my personal belongings that had been left behind the day before. With the exception of the two bottles of Aquafina water I had purchased from the vending machine yesterday. I assume those have been disposed of in an environmentally approved way. I might be assuming a lot. In any case, check and possessions in hand I was given one last order: Get the hell out and don't speak to anyone. I violated that order upon reaching my vehicle, the guard had followed me all the way there. I asked him, "Do you work for Behr or are you private security?" His response - "Private security. I'm on a one day assignment. I assume you were it. No hard feelings?". I thanked him for his time and drove away.

So there it is. Behr has done a fine job of violating nearly every ethical principle they claim to cherish by concocting lies, distortions, contradictions, and other falsehoods. They've succeeded in tarnishing my reputation among my fellow employees. I hold out very little hope that this behavior will change. My only hope in writing all of this up is for anyone who does research on companies they wish to work for. On the surface, Behr looks like a wonderful place. And as long as you never raise objections or concerns about things, even those involving safety and financial harm, you'll probably do just fine. But if you're like me and have strong opinions about things and have no issues in sharing them, you'll get screwed. Plain and simple. The open door policy is a joke and is nothing more than bait to snare opinionated people with. You will be expected to be as an android with no soul and no sense of purpose. I allowed this to go on for too long before saying something, out of my own sense of ethics in saying anything against Behr. I can only hope that some day Masco Corporation will see things for what they are and take action to ensure their ethics policies are in fact followed. They can do nothing more against me, and so I felt it necessary to publish my story for all to see. Even if it may one day cost me future employment.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Mar 7, 2008 4:30 pm by Samson in: | 3 comment(s) [Closed]
Wow, that's quite a write up. All things considered, I think you should've started submitting resumes elsewhere a year ago based on what you've told us above, but certainly by the time the nonsense after Christmas came up. :(

On a positive note, that's a great cartoon. :)

Former Employee said:
Comment #2 Mar 8, 2008 3:21 pm
Well from former experience with just about all parties involved ( never involved HR : its useless) . . .. i agree with Roger, there are quite a few "issues" with Behr Management. There are also quite a few discrepencies with Behr policies and "rules"


I've had simular types of activities where I work before. Being accused of things that never happened, and having to prove myself innocent. The one thing that gets me through it, has been to learn that my job isn't my personal business that I run, but someone elses, and I must play by their rules, if I wish to work here. Sometimes it sucks, but there isn't any point to getting all stressed out over things you have no control over. Heh, I still do sometimes, but hey I'm trying. I wish you the best of luck. I always stand by offer of a job at my jail if your interested, but it's in Virginia. $32,000 to start out with.


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