Tuesday, April 05, 2005


At first I concluded that my thoughts for today might only apply to people who are working in non-Union jobs. But then I realized, no, that's not the case. These thoughts apply to people in any job (and perhaps in any arena of life as well).

Why do you think people get released (fired) from their jobs? Most people would say because they were being careless, weren’t doing their work, disloyal, impertinent, spending too much on personal stuff – e-mails, Solitaire, etc. All the obvious stuff. But that is not the commonest reason. There is another reason that hangs around the workplace like an invisible toxin.

I know you must have worked with the type I’m thinking of today. In my working years, I’ve seen eons of them. The type that moan and groan about the load of work they are forced to carry. The type that look for faults in the boss, faults in the process, and faults in their co-workers. They know their stuff, and they know how things should be done and they don’t mind telling others how they can do better.

But oftentimes, they are hard workers and they have not the foggiest notion how much their presence each day pains the boss and other co-workers. And initially the Boss doesn’t fully realize what the problem is either – or indeed, that there is a problem.

But come nightfall when the Boss is home lying in his bed, contemplating how things are going at work, he is surprised to find that one person, one name, keeps recycling in his head. That one that tries to be congenial, oftentimes too helpful, but at the same time one that is not dedicated to being part of the team. Always pointing out others’ flaws, looking for a raise or better working conditions or less responsibility. And the next night that same name is cycling around in the Bosses’ head. And the next. And the next. Sleep evades him or her.

And after a few weeks of this, the Boss says to him or herself. "I don’t need this kind of stress. What I need is some peace and some sleep."

And so at that point a plan begins to take root. A plan to rid himself of stress. Without a Union the solution is as simple as passing out a pink slip. But if the job is in a Unionized place, elaborate restructuring may need to take place or job-description modifications put into effect. A façade has to be set up to allow ease of dismissal without Union interference.

Management know how to circumvent these situations and in the end the worker is released. The worker is given some limp, irrational reasons that he or she can’t understand. Co-workers are confused as well. They don’t fully understand why. And quite often even the Boss doesn’t really know why he must do this thing, except to rid himself of the phantom that disrupts his slumber. And in order to do that, with the Union howling down his back, he has to dedicate himself to the convoluted process of bringing about a ‘legal’ dismissal.

The problem is there is no Union Handbook that allows for dismissal of a worker because he is a bloody pain in the ass. But eventually, to the Bosses’ surprise and dismay, he realizes that in order for him to relax, to continue in a job he once loved, to have a good night’s sleep and to have the peace of mind, the solution lies in ridding himself of the apparition of his restless dreams.

And so that person is eliminated, one way or another.

Now while you are reading this, you are probably muttering. "Roberta, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve had to work with that Annoying Blowhard for years and years."

I realize that might be the case. Some bosses find their sleep in a stiff drink or a sleeping pill and so this is how they rid their private lives of the woes of the workplace rather than dismiss anyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does that include unpaid charity work? Because that what motherhood
is from time to time.


11:44 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi MD. Glad you stopped by.

I thought about charity work when I wrote this. I even thought about community clubs. Here there are no choices but to patronize and tolerate the person who moans about everything and knows how things can be done better.

But motherhood, that is entirely something else -- for one thing, with each passing year the wages go up. Wealth doesn't increase, appreciation is seldom evident, some days the job is drudgery, but it brings contentment and purposeful living that keep life's cash register joyfully jingling as it adds up a wealth of memories of good times and very special moments.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It distresses me to say it, but I have a family member who is never content with her lot in life. I don't understand the reason for her behavior. It seems she is incapable of working FOR someone for any length of time. There is always something about the job that is unfair, or not right, or uncomfortable. Ultimately, you come to understand that SHE could run the company better. Unfortunately, she has blinders about appropriate behavior in the working world when you are not the boss. As a result, she has been limited to unsatisfying, "demeaning" jobs. I frequently think about the people who have to work with her, and wonder how they deal with the situation. I might be tempted to have empathy for the boss you described.


1:36 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

That, Buffy, is exactly the disaster that plagues so many talented people. The workplace is a good place to show some humility. I understand your thought that you don't know whether to feel more pity for the boss or for the individual you described. Hard to know who deserves it more.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Ilona said...

Wow. I think you are right. I think you have come upon an observation to really think about in building ones emotional intelligence.

I genuinely never thought of that aspect- prob'ly cause I might see myself in that portrait. Yowie.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

If that is the case, Ilona, don't be embarrassed. We've all been there in part at some time or another. I remember doing my fair bit of moaning about my lot during my working career. But after a stint supervising a group of workers, one who was very clever but a real blowhard, I began to see things I had not seen before.

12:15 AM  

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home