Friday 2 February 2018

Such is work

I ran across this in the comment section of an opinion site that I read that described someone.

"Toxic levels of self esteem mixed with incompetence and lack of any fear of failure or doubt."

This reminds me of someone I used to work for and I am continually amazed that I lasted in the job as long as I did. The person was a classic narcissist. To this day I have yet to run across anyone as enamored of themself as this person. There is nothing like dealing with someone who is an expert at everything, never wrong, apparently never failed at anything, and supremely self-confident. The employees would silently cheer whenever he went on vacation and dread the return as he would inflict his wonderful management ideas on the business that he came up with on his time off. Anyone could have told him the place was much happier and more productive without him however he would have never believed it. To him he was indispensible and only his presence kept the whole universe from collapsing. I am self aware enough to know I have faults. I like to think that I am willing to listen to other points of view and seek out advice when I need to make decisions.

I have a university degree in Commerce. I worked on my degree taking classroom courses after work hours and by correspondence and worked full time. During my schoolwork and in the working world you have to read a lot of management books and get subjected to a lot of management fads. I read a lot of business books by business gurus and a fractional part of what they say is useful. Most of it is garbage, there is always a fad, there is always the latest trend. I learned long ago to take what you hear and read with a grain of salt. I remember when every business just had to have a mission statement. One company I worked for was hung up on crafting a mission statement that it could put on the wall so everyone knew what we did and what we stood for. I commented that the company had been in business for over twenty years, if the people involved and the clients had no idea what we did or what our principles were then we had bigger problems. It did not go over well.

There is a lot of stupidity in any organization, there are a lot of dumb managers and owners, there are lots of strange policies and practices. Most of us have worked in some less than ideal situations. I have my share of dubious work experiences. Some jobs I stayed at too long out of necessity. Others to gain experience and learn as much as I could so I could defect to a better environment. I only work because I have to and it allows me to do such things like surviving. Surviving and road trips. I am not in love with my job, some days I like it, other days it is drudgery. I am not defined by my job, I like to think I am defined by what I do away from work. My job is not my life.

We put up with a lot of questionable things in our jobs. Some of them get so ingrained in the culture over time that it is impossible to change things or get people to realize how ludicrous some things are. One place I worked for loved timesheets. This was not some simple infatuation, they were seriously in love with them. Nothing wrong with tracking how much time your employees spend on jobs. This was done to an insane level. Every employee was supposed to track their workday in six minute increments. All of this was summarized in reports. No one there was paid by the hour or paid overtime. Nothing meaningful was ever done with the information. It was a practice that was done for years and because they done it in the past they just kept on doing it. Hundreds of employee hours over the course of a year was spent on timesheets.

I am turning into one of those get off of my lawn types. I find myself willing to put up with less nonsense. We have new owners where I work and they are younger and have all of these wonderful ideas they want to implement. They are also confident in their own ideas and likely think they are too smart to hear why some things will not work. I have seen a lot of this before. I have a fair idea of what will succeed and what will not. I doubt a lot of what they want to do will work. For my own amusement I am going to watch it all unfold.

My idea of owning and running a business or organization is straightforward. Keep it simple. Concentrate on the stuff that matters. Arrive on time. Try to weed out dumb stuff. Do what you say you are going to do. If you screw up, fix it, make it right. Do not try to be something you are not. Be good to your clients. Keep an eye on your competition and do not be afraid to learn from what they are doing. Have people that know their job, are responsible, and treat them well. If employees do not know what they are doing then train them and dedicate a lot of time to training them. Do not be afraid to part with people if they do not work out. Under promise and over deliver. Success is not guaranteed, the possibility of failure can be minimized but you can still fail through no fault of your own. Most important of all if I win the lottery I will not be at work the next day.


  1. It's really that simple.

    My previous employers decided they could run the Edmonton office and micromanage it from Montreal. And - that they could treat clients and employees like dirt. I walked away three weeks ago and I am SO glad I did. The junior sales guy left a week after I did.

    Lord, I am enjoying this. Long range dawg patrols in the morning, putter about in the shop, chores are done before they become a problem... clean house, spotless cars... I could get used to this.

    1. At one job my normal workday was eight to five. One night I stayed until eleven at night to help get a bunch of financial reports done on a tight deadline. The next morning I got flak for being five minutes late. I told the person getting on my case that she was and idiot and from then on when it was five I was out the door. If stuff was behind I was no longer helping out.

  2. Oh yes, the workforce . . . here's what I learned over the course of my career. No matter what stupidly useless thing management wants you to do, slap a smile on your face and do it so long as you're being paid for that purpose. It's no skin off your ass and it's all pensionable service in the long run. Don't tell them why it's stupidly useless or will not work because no one wants to hear it and you'll only get a bad reputation as an old fart whose time has come and gone. Keep that smile on your face until the day you retire and then, my friend, you are FREE!

    1. "It's all pensionable time" was a pretty common saying at one workplace I was in.

    2. Strongly disagree because
      1. this only leads to more of the same bad corporate behavior
      2. you're being paid not only for your time but for expertise
      (which implies quality output)
      3. your pension may not be all that secure if the firm fails
      (ever hear of underfunded pensions?)
      4. this attitude is part of why there's so little respect for retirees
      5. that kind of "FREE" is not true freedom!

  3. The greatest joy I ever had on the job was closing the door for the last time.

  4. I had a similar experience about the being late deal. A former boss got after me for being late twice in one month. Once, I'd had a flat tire, the other was my fault, I didn't realize that I was low on gas and had to stop and get some. I reminded the boss that I'd probably arrived 20 minutes early a dozen times that month and he'd never complained, but not to worry, I would never again be late OR early. And for the remaining two years that I worked there, I wasn't.

  5. That last paragraph - you are so right with what you said.

  6. One of your best posts ever!