You Are The Working Class

So I like to speak with people about their lives.


Today at breakfast, there was a gentlemen working the egg bar making omelettes for people.


Recognizing him, I said “You’ve been here a number of years?”


He responds, “Yeah, but I want to leave here!”


I was sort of taken aback at his bluntness, and inquired further, “Why, is everything okay?”


He goes, “Not really. They’ll only give me work 6 to 7 hours a day, and I can’t make a living on 32 hours a week!”


I asked innocently, “Do you have a second job or something?”


He says, “No, this is it,” and proceeded to make the next person’s omelette.


Feeling sort of shitty bad for him…


Another lady who works the tables says to us: “I won’t be seeing you.”


I ask, “Why–are you off the next few days?”


She says, “No, I don’t come back until next Saturday–I only work the weekends here, and somewhere else on weekdays.”


Wondering about this, I say: “So you work 7 days a week?”


She answers, “Yes, year-round!”


After we said goodbye until next time, I looked at my wife grimacing that this women has to work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, just to earn a basic living.


I’ll tell you the system is broken.


Shareholders and corporate chieftains squeeze profits and earnings per share out of their companies while the workers can barely get by.


The workers are not part of the companies they labor for–they are merely hired hands who will be replaced in a moment by another minimum wage worker if they but open their mouths to protest one word.


Slavery did not end in building the Great Pyramids of Egypt or in the plantations of the South–the average worker is still just a slave.


Employee engagement and development and “Human Capital” are terms organizations use to make themselves and their workers believe that there is real caring and unity going on.


But we know the truth by how people are treated with harshness, disrespect, disdain, and even abuse–sexual and otherwise!


Yeah, are you really valued or are you a wage slave showered with empty platitudes of unity and caring.


Real leadership is genuine compassion, empathy, and helping people both inside and outside the organization–not just a guise, disguise, mask for making just another dollar cracking the whip on the backs of the underclass.


All people are important.


All people deserve a living wage.


All people are entitled to work with dignity and respect.


All people need to be apart of a system that is fair and equitable.


Care for your brothers and sisters for one day you will be called before them in the court of Heaven and they will speak the final truth to power. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

There are so many workplace liars—the problem is many of them are experienced and good at selling you a bunch of malarkey.

Often, they tell you what they want, either to save the company money or to make themselves look innovative, but either way it’s inevitably at your cost.

One of these lies is from chieftains that tell you’ll be better off working in an open workspace–i.e. thrown into a corporate bullpen.

Oh, by the way, vacate your office by Friday!

Sure there are a plethora of benefits to having common spaces to share ideas and open up communications—and these should be plentiful and stocked with comfy sofas, energy-inducing munchables, and ample white boards and tech gear to facilitate collaboration.

But when the pendulum swings all the way to the other side, and your personal office space become a hoteling situation, you know you are losing out to penny-pinching executives, who want to save on leasing office space, furniture, and the like in order to boost their personal bonuses at the end of the year.

Just ask yourself:

– Do people need privacy to handle sensitive personnel, budget, contracting, and strategic planning and execution issues (as well as occasional family or personal issues—we are all human)?

– Do you need time to close the door for some quiet time to think, innovate, and catch up on work?

– Is there a genuine human need to have a place to put your work and personal things to be productive and comfortable?

The truth is that people need and deserve a balanced work environment—one where people can move healthily between closed and open spaces, individual work and teamwork, privacy and sharing, creativity and productivity, individualism and conformity, comfort and cost-savings.

Anyone that tells you that people work better in a fully open environment where you have to book up a desk and computer is selling you on short-term organizational cost-savings at the expense of longer-term human capital satisfaction and productivity.

Next time, a “leader” tries to convince you of the merits of your not having a professional workspace, desk, computer, and so on—ask yourself whether you want to work in a Motel 6 every day or for a stable organization that values and invests in it people.

An appropriate blended environment of open and closed work spaces, where it shows that you are empowered and valued is a career, and not just a job;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to epochgraphics)

Open Doors, Closed Minds

Door_closed

This was a funny photo at the local Pot Belly eatery. 

Their side door (right off their main entrance) is wide open, yet they have these two large signs that say “Keep Closed” and “For your safety back door must be locked at all times.”

And inside this guy with a clipboard is schmoozing away–seemingly ignoring everything.

No delivery in sight either–maybe just the morning checkup on things.

So much for safety, following the rules, and probably good common sense.

It reminded me of a couple of things:

One is sort of the opposite of this scenario, where in the office, virtually every manager/leader purports to have an “open door” policy, yet really while their door may be open, their minds are closed.

They don’t really listen to what people are telling them–issues, solutions, new ideas–they have their own ideas about things, how they are and how they ought to be. The others don’t really matter to them, because they are in charge.

In this case emotional intelligence, social/interpersonal skills, communication abilities, and teamwork are all pretty low. Surprisingly or not, this is quite a lot of managers out there, I think.

The other thing this scene brought to mind is a related issue of access. Sometimes, we may try to get a briefing or presentation, or even just a discussion with superiors, but they always seem too busy.

Without acccess, we are limited in pushing new ideas and innovations up and out–it stops with the gatekeepers. With access, we can work together to make great ideas and solutions even better.

It’s interesting that access–such a simple thing you would imagine, is such a big deal. But it is common too that rather than dealing with new ideas or difficult issues, managers may simply find it easier to simply not deal with “the noise.”

This is the equivalent of grade school, where you put the fresh-mouthed student in the corner, facing the wall, with a tall pointy dunce cap on their head–until they and everyone else gets the message that this not someone of significance. See them, laugh at them, then ignore them.

Access is another word for you mean something or you don’t, in your bosses mind, at least, and in how they communicate about you to others.

Lose access and you are in the wilderness and maybe will starve to death and die. Gain access and you have an opportunity to influence things for the positive–live and let others thrive.

Are you relevant or dead–is the door open–really or is it just a show.

Your job as a leader and follower is too figure out how to open doors all around you, to bridge divides, communicate what you really think in a way that can be heard, influence the way forward, and make people feel–really feel–that they are heard, that they do have something important to say and contribute, and that everyone is valuable.

Door open or closed–your mission is the same.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)