Wednesday, August 27, 2003
I get emails about what is hapening in corporate America
Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
I am writing this today after a long meeting about how our story while improving isn't improving fast enough. We have had staffing cut in half a year ago and in the last 6 months have lost 3 more people. I now spend half the week on the university campus and half in the other store. So dropping from 18 people to 9 then 6 and now 5 1/2. We have increased our production by 17 % and we are all burned out, disgruntled and frayed around the edges.
My boss’s boss presents me with a 25-cent lapel pin and tells me of the numerous customer letters of praise he receives about my service. He follows this with a reprimand to use "only red pens as that will make reading the order easier and greatly improve our efficiency! So as I usually do I say "Ok boss."
I think about the captain of the Titanic rearranging the deckchairs as the ship sinks and continue to go about the four jobs I am trying to accomplish. He then tells my coworker Jane what a fine job she is doing and follows with "but you need to dust the backs of the computers as they are a little dusty!"
She is also doing four things at once and responds through gritted teeth "I'll get right on it."
I realize this jackass is unable of giving a compliment because he sees it as weakness. I decide to take my talented wife Mary's advice – do exactly what they say.
I stop everything I am doing, go get a red pen and put it prominently in my pocket and start to dust the back of the computers.
Jane looks at me as if I am crazy and asks sotto voce "What the hell are you doing? All these orders are going to be late!"
I reply "I'm doing what da man asked me to do."
As customers lined up at the counter and machines started to shut down and the only noise was the grumbling of the disgusted people begging for service I noticed that my boss looked nervous but his boss didn't notice any problem. Serenely he left the store and at last my boss asked, "What's going on in here why are all the machine shutting off?”
I replied "I don't know. I've been doing what Stanley (da man) asked me to do.”
“Oh, ok. I guess that need to be taken care of” he responded.
Jane buried her head in a small project and we instructed the front counter people to give jobs away for free to anyone that complained as da man has told us we should.
By the time we left, we had given away 7 jobs costing the store $225 and the reputation we had as one of the last Winko's that did a good job.
I hate doing a bad job but the only way to fix this mess is to follow procedures that make no sense, piss off enough customers and loose enough business to get somebody with authority to really look at the significant problems not the color of the pen I used. A pen color I have used for 4 years without a single color related catastrophe.
Welcome to the new corporate America. Procedure and bureaucracy rule and the people at the top have no idea what business they are running. They are in it only to gut the pension fund, inflate the stock and golden parachute out just before it goes in the toilet - taking all the stockholder's and peon's life savings with it.
I, for one, refuse to become a corporate weasel but I will take on that protective camouflage when I have to. I will give away all that I can to keep the pleasant, patient, long suffering customer happy when I can.
As I look for my new, better job I realize what I want: to work for people that still want to come to work and do a good job, who still strive for excellence and who create a pleasant environment filled with people that care about their job and each other.
I know it's out there I just need to find it. Until then I plan to follow the rules to the letter until the rules and their creators drive us out of business.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest and now to a much deserved nap and then let the killings begin.
Make the pie higher!