Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh the humanity!

Anyone who knows me at all, can probably tell you that I don't deal well with authority.

I do not like other people telling me how to live my life, when to be somewhere, what to do, and how to do it.

That's not to say I don't enjoy learning from others, associating with others, exchanging ideas and theories and rhetoric with others -- but I like an equal playing field. And I truly have team spirit when it is a team of equal and like-minded members who have the same goals in mind.
Too often at least one member of this 'team' has a self-appointed goal of growing his or her profession and is quite willing to do it at the expense of fellow workers or those he supervises. We've all seen how the least talented, skilled, knowledgeable continually get promoted because they make an effort to take the glory for other people's efforts.

If the total truth were to be revealed, I detest authority figures who have no skill at being in positions of authority. And the adage is quite true and alive and well in every company: every user and idiot is promoted to their level of incompetence. And it seems they are usually my boss. Here are a few manager types you may recognize:

  • The manager who mothers and treats employees like teenagers.

  • The leader who does nothing, but expects 'underlings' to be productive to the nth degree.

  • Officious, pompous, self-centered arrogant mid-level managers and supervisors

  • The sneaky supervisor planning and scheming behind your back, ready to sell you out for her next promotion.

  • Or the leader who expects loyalty yet offers none in return.

I so miss the leader who leads by example rather than stands at the back and pushes you in front of the roaring locomotive.

I want to believe that capitalism is the best choice, the way to have a better world, more freedom, quality of life, larger incomes, jobs.... But the logical side of my brain (I admit it seems underused compared to my creative side). My logic says this is not necessarily true.

What little I know about capitalism gives me the impression that it is this institution or theory that gives us a class system. Through capitalism we have the owners, the workers, the small business owners, and at the very bottom of the list those who do not fit into the capitalistic pyramid and are either without jobs or flit from job to job or are unemployable and are existing on government assistance.

By definition, Capitalism is "an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market." or another way to say it might be "Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights." According to my source this latter definition is a political definition and one cannot exist without the other.

But, when involved in a capitalistic situation -- a workplace -- my rights are continually subverted. I work their hours, for the amount of wage they deem reasonable, receiving increases based upon their evaluation of my work which is based upon an assessment put together according to the hierarchy's rules.

My 'life' is secondary to the job. In the workplace their rules, not necessarily productivity, must be number one. And if I for heaven sakes have a family emergency -- it had better be a good one! And I had better have enough time off (which they deem appropriate, not me) to cover it.

Humanity has been jettisoned. We are now part of the equation for profit. We are no longer people, we are things that can add to or subtract from the bottom line. If we are subtracting, we'll soon be 'subtracted' right out of a job. Managers like to say that 'personal' life doesn't enter into the equation when making decisions about a job performance, transfer, or anything related to the worker in the workplace. Does anyone really believe that?

I hear that workers are rebelling. They are demanding flexible jobs, flexible workplaces, work from home alternatives, and a return to evaluation based upon reality, upon productivity and upon their personal skills, education and talent, and not based upon attitude, personality, the supervisor's gut feeling or whether or not the company wants to pay for your pension or benefits. Where are these workers? I don't see any in my frame of reference.

Everyone I see sells their souls to a company that treats them like fodder. Feeding them to a machine that cares nothing about whether they can feed their children or get a better education or have quality of life. A machine that doesn't even strive for a quality product. The only product they want is profit. Oh and perhaps a chance to move higher up the corporate ladder.

It is so disillusioning to see fellow men and women, people you know, people you see in at the grocery store, people whose kids your kids play soccer with turn out to be soulless and irresponsible in the workplace.

Recently more than 100 people lost their jobs where I work -- they lost their jobs because someone in authority wanted to keep theirs. And that someone in authority had not grown the company but had pillaged it for their own benefit. So too many people lost their source of income.

Is there no accountability in capitalism? And who is in charge of enforcing that? Hopefully not my former supervisor -- we're in MUCH bigger trouble than I thought, if that's the case.

I want to embrace capitalism. But I can't. Not until we can maintain our humanity in the workplace and find equality -- not in title -- but equality in the mere fact that we are all equal in the eyes of God and made the same. Title does not elevate one to a position that makes them 'better' than another and if anything with more wealth, with more authority, with more honor, comes more responsibility. A responsibility to civility and caring and maintaining a workplace that is honorable, not harassing.

I want more democracy in the workplace and respect, perhaps that will lead us back to a few traits I find missing -- honesty, truthfulness, compassion, integrity, civility,....

[Photo: Portrait of a Garment Worker. ]


Author Guy said...

Check out my own blog for the lyrics to the Ballad of the Middle Manager.

Just too true. I've been lucky that most of the management types I've worked under have actually been competent.

Dawn said...

I just visited your blog and the balad of the middle manager is definitely worth the read. Thanks so much!

Treasure the competent manager for they are rare birds and once you've had the other type, you will worship at their feet.

I've had both which makes it so difficult to bow to the power of the incompetent, self-engrandized, clueless wonders.


Dawn said...

And that would be ballad not balad. >>sigh<< And thank you for leaving a comment on my blog!


Author Guy said...

You're most welcome. The Ballad is a real song, by the way, as is the Anthem of Bureaucracy. Both are from the album Doctor Jane's Science Notes.