Monday, July 30, 2007

Gainful employment

Some people are sticklers for rules. They have a rule for everything and everything has a rule……… This attribute tends to be even more apparent in big conglomerates / MNC’s due to their nature and size. The problem with this is it tends to stifle creativity, at least, within certain elements of the company I am working with. If there isn’t a rule or procedure to cover a particular scenario it either gets ignored or …and there is some expertise involved with this ………it gets passed to someone else to become their problem……usually someone lower down the food chain.
There are people who are what I term as careerorists or more perhaps more fittingly, career guerilla’s or career prostitutes. They play the rules with intention of doing as little work as possible, while s*itting on others with the sole purpose of climbing the ladder – not to do any work mind – just climb the ladder. In fact some spend more time and effort working out how to get out of doing some meaningful work, than they would expend actually doing it. (Fortunately this only applies to a relatively small segment of the workforce.)
The company has a very “fulfilling” training program whereby if you get the right boxes ticked, you are nudged up a grade along with a small increase in salary and a bigger coffee mug. It has been observed that some managers spend hours during office time doing or revising for these “improvement” programs but little real work is done in the meantime.
It seems that there is any number of tactics in which to avoid work in “big corporate”. One of the more popular ones is meetings but there are others such as “training”, “seminars” and “expo’s” . One of the worse is the teleconference. Or in other words “places where nothing happens and nothing gets done”. I have been monitoring some of the fellows to see what they have achieved over the last 12 months and to be frank it’s not much …other than to heat up the atmosphere further.
Here’s how meetings go. Each of the people round the table expresses their opinion on a particular subject (they are all referring to the same subject and have been for the last 12 months), however each of these opinions is completely different. Then, “The Claw” (Wiki it) — and it’s always “The Claw” — says some crap like: “Well, we’re outside the box here with a new kind of polemic situation and we can’t know what the result will be until we’ve run the flag up the flagpole and seen which way the wind’s blowing and ensure we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.”
Plainly you want to argue with this, but as you draw breath to speak you realize that what he just said didn’t make any sense. And anyway, he hasn’t finished.
“It’s mission critical that we use blue sky thinking and that we’re positively proactive, not negatively reactive, if we’re to come up with a ballpark figure that we can bring to the table.”
Again, you raise a finger to make a point. But you don’t know what that point might be.
“We must maintain a client focus so that we can incentivise the team and monetise the deliverables, and only then can we take it to the next level.”
You wince as you bite your tongue to stop yourself from saying: “I’m sorry but wtf are you on about?”
As you walk out the meeting your head is spinning and, you wonder why it was necessary to have the meeting at all. Nothing was achieved except the consumption of time and a general feeling from my colleagues that they had fulfilled their contract of employment in a positively proactive way.
In a quest to try and alleviate the boredom, a friend and I heard of a way to make meetings more interesting - at least for us. We would give each other the name of a rock band before the meeting and then we’d compete to see how many of their song titles we could lob into the conversation without anyone noticing.
That’s why, the other week, my contribution to the meeting was : “We finish on the 31 December so All is Quiet on New Years Day. I Will Follow but I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For With or Without You (U2 in case you didn’t know) And do you know what? Nobody batted an eyelid.
And nor did anyone cotton on when my friend replied by saying: “We are the Champions. Don’t Stop Me Now, Under Pressure I Want to Break Free” (Queen). But I even grew bored of this as I can’t get no satisfaction…. Ha ha ha sorry!
Conference calls are another great consumer of time and a tool for the justification of existence. After all its quite often the only opportunity to have some interaction with the big cheeses at HQ and it gives a lovely warm glowing feeling that you believe they are actually aware of your being – even if they do keep getting your name wrong. Teleconferences are exactly like a normal meeting in that nothing happens and nothing gets done and everyone talks rubbish but you don’t have to sit there, remembering not to fall asleep. There are many other interesting things to do such as counting the number of floor tiles and multiplying it with the number of ceiling tiles. I can also play with my PDA and no one will know. At the end I can be content that my colleagues will think I have put a sterling effort in and somehow this alleviates my guilt when I cash my paycheck at the end of the month.


Anonymous said...

Hi there

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Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you