Not that I would get fired. But I will refrain from using the name of the company I work for in this post. Needless to say, it will become clear throughout this that the complaints I have will be synonymous with many other jobs, regardless of their nature.
I wrote this in my phone one day while I was working: “An internet impression is all about influence, humanity, control – and how to provide the illusion of all three.” Now unfortunately I wrote that in December, so I don’t remember exactly what my motivations were behind it, or how I was going to elaborate on it. I may not be able to elaborate exactly, but I can ballpark it pretty well right now.
I was asked to provide a writing sample for my company in order to provide tangible evidence of my abilities as a potential candidate for the company blog. I would be, if all went well, the “company blogger.” I work for a very tech-savvy, forward-thinking modern company. They like to follow examples set forth by tech standbys Google and Microsoft. Apple. They like to provide their customers with an excellent web experience; they spend a great deal of time and resources trying to discover new ways of improving their “web presence,” which is an important asset for any type of company.
Which is good, because we are not a tech company. We are goods. We are goods that are as far from tech as you can be. We’re basically rubber and paper. Insulation – but a cool kind of insulation.
Here are the facts, as I see them: we spent far more time, far more money, and far more interest in the appearance of our company. That’s not to say the product is necessarily junk; it’s fine. It’s a fine product. But we are not a tech company.
I will probably return to that point.
Our owner, in a previous meeting brought up the idea beta-testing as we rolled out a new product. Beta-testing like a great company like Google would do: introduce a new product, ask our customers what they thought of it, and adapt our product in the future based on suggestions from customers. Great idea. Here’s the thing: we’re not a tech company.
We work in final goods. There is no patch you could download to fix a piece of paper or rubber. If a customer gets it and they think it sucks, it would be infuriating to the customer for us to say, “Thank you for your input, we’ll fix it later on for someone else!”
– Long story short on this point: I work for an owner that wants to be running Google, but is selling notebook paper. It’s Dunder Mifflin Infinity.
Another point of contention for me: the fallacy of family. Don’t you hate it when a company tries to promote themselves as a “family?” It’s an obvious misstep, but so commonly it is found in the framework of a business it’s not surprising. When I first started working at this place, and I was told it was a “family,” I immediately sunk in my seat. When someone has to say they are a part of a family, they have no family. Why don’t you try even harder? Of course, this place is not a “family.” Everyone is nice to each other, and everyone is friendly, sure. But we do not all hang out together after work. We don’t all go to the same places. We don’t all enjoy each other’s company. In fact, the only time we all do hang out is if it’s a mandatory meeting, or a mandatory “company outing.” Other than that, I never see the people from the front offices, and they never come see me.
(Saw this coming) I guess that would mean we are a family…
…and don’t tell everyone they have input. Another common misstep in any company, but because it is written on page 2 of “Running a Business 101,” it must be included – next to the line about telling your employees they are a family – is the line about telling them they are all equals.
Sure, you don’t want to crush everyone’s souls with work, you want them to be excited to come in to work so they are more productive. But you shouldn’t lie to them to make that happen, that only makes things worse. When I started there, they told me my job was equal to everyone else, we were all equally important. From the head of marketing all the way down to my position, everyone was important. Sure, great. Couldn’t do the work this place needs without all of us. But don’t tell people in my position they are just as important. More often than not, people in my position are stupid and will think you’re telling the truth. This will allow them the belief they are as valuable as other people in the office (surprise), and they will expect equal treatment (double surprise). The best thing to do from the start is…tell the truth. Tell employees where they stand. Ask their opinion with the qualifier that their opinion might not be heard because they’re working in the warehouse. It might not funnel through the proper channels. I knew all this before I started, and was even tricked a few times into doing more work than was expected from me because I believed I had power in making a decision for the company.
Really, they were just getting extra free labor from me. It can work to provide employees with this illusion, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t tell people they are equal to everyone else without expecting them to eventually grow frustrated with their station: “Well, if I’m an equal, I should be paid as an equal.” “Why don’t they listen to my ideas if I am an equal?”
It’s because we’re stupid and replaceable. Stupid people rarely, if ever, come up with feasible ideas. Which is why they’re stupid. And we get paid so little because it’s easy for another stupid person to come in and pick up the job we’re doing in a relatively brief time period.
But us stupid people don’t know that if you don’t tell us the truth. I mean, tell us the truth, but don’t call us stupid and replaceable. Just tell us our position isn’t the same. We know it, we’ll get it…and if we don’t, get somebody who does get it.
Boy oh boy, this piece would never make the blog at work. I’m rambling a bit here I think. What was I trying to talk about at the start? Oh yeah, the message I wrote myself in my phone.
I was going to use that line as the basis for the piece I wrote for my sample. I don’t believe I ever got around to actually doing it. It’s a shame – it might’ve added more value to the position I am in at my company. As it is, I am just where I am, with added responsibilities that make me work harder, but still not someone that is irreplaceable to the company. Therefore I probably won’t make more money. If I did write that piece, and they liked it, I might’ve been able to parlay that into something more. But I am dumb. And lazy.
I will say in convoluted conclusion that the company I work for is fine. The people are fine, even the misguided owner is fine. He is harmless. However, there is a great underlying problem with the company, to me, that, if left unchecked, will limit its ability to grow. Correct me if I’m wrong, which I’m sure I am, but a solid company cannot be solid without – you guessed it – solidarity. Top to bottom, front to back, buzzword to business jargon, a companies’ processes must be established and solid before growth and expansion. They must have a quality product as well, and a solid process to provide their product to their customer. From the first call (or interaction with the website) to the interface to the order to the delivery to the product itself, everything must be in order, and that requires either a utopian workplace free of selfish people, or an order for the workers to follow that provides structure to their work. This is not a factory philosophy I’m trying to spout out; hold on.
What am I trying to say? Where I work, we need a set of values that each person understands, that keeps them from being selfish and makes them accountable to everyone else who works there. My job may be the least important, but it can be made more efficient, more effective, if the people working ahead of me followed protocol and weren’t so god-damn selfish.
What the hell am I talking about? Shit I don’t even know right now. Haha