Friday 18 June 2004

The man and his institutions

Developing routine
It has been quite a while since a log has been blogged, herein lies the problem of developing a routine. Whilst a man’s life requires a modicum of routine to help create some stability, the moment any situation turns into routine, the fight begins to introduce change.
Well, that is the story on my existence, change turns into routine which creates the need for another change- the circle, rather than being vicious is a welcome experience of the ability to chart one’s destiny despite the machinations of the petty tyrants who overlord us and thwart every act of self-development.
You will recall my continuous diatribe about change and irrelevance in December/January, well, we are at the point of change that would most certainly maintain relevance for the future.
Great Expectations
A few months ago, one met with a circumstance that clearly indicated one was in a dead-end job. At least that was the view of the boss when we had a meeting about career development.
Unfortunately, much as the boss is a young and very successful political hound, one is at pains to recognise any mentoring acumen towards others apart from himself.
Basically, with the incessant promotions of the boss have come responsibilities that have created a tyrannical tendency to overrule every objective assessment presented for his approval.
That is all at an end for me - I resigned for a better opportunity where people would take advantage of my 15 years experience and expertise, the same experience that was used in considering me for an online Masters degree with the University of Liverpool.
A culmination of mismanaged resources
It is without doubt that one’s departure would be the first of many for the one or many of the following reasons:
  • For a long while, the litmus test of any project has been predicated on a political point scoring match between all VPs and if it brought any glory to them - the interest of the company or implementers never features.
  • All gratitude and thanks has only ever been passed down from the CIO, never has it come from the manager himself.
  • All information being given to the manager in confidence ends up being used as bargaining ammunition no matter how underhand and unscrupulous - this however, is presented as being frank and honest.
  • Consultants are employed to provide expert opinions and should be treated as such, in our case, our opinions count for little in relation to what scheme the manager has doggedly decided to adopt irrespective of the logic or commonsense approach needed to aopt new policies - basically, he no more listens.
  • There is no managerial oversight for any action taken, creating empires of political megalomaniacs who are always involved in squabbles that undermine the interest of the company, wasting resources on duplicating projects because one team wants ascendancy over the other.
  • No one project has been undertaken with a positive pep-talk, rather, the sceptre of our jobs being on the line has been the motivational force bestowed by the boss.
  • Career enhancement is stunted by vindictive performance reviews used to air opinions of conduct which have no bearing on performance or review and should have been addressed in other forums. It boils down to a salary increase of about 4% delivered in a letter by Father Christmas, who happens to be your boss.
  • The greatest indictment is the lack of mentoring skills, no one person in the team that increased from 9 to about 200 persons has received promotion apart from one who had been promised the job by the manager’s predecessor. Every new opportunity requires a new face, because the boss has not had enough time from feathering his nest to develop management, responsibility and leadership skills in his current staff.
  • The job market is looking up and people would only endure this situation for so long before each person’s degree of masochistic endurance is exhausted.
The Man and his Institutions
The Economist featured a letter addressed to the editor comparing psychopaths to sociopaths when deploring the personality of companies.
Whilst for now, one does not have access to the specific words, it goes without saying that the company, organisation, church, establishment or institution comprises of people who create the persona and mien of that group.
The people who have some influence in creating policy or executing policy are the company in varying degrees from the owners, to the board, the management, the middle managers, the departmental supervisors, the team leaders and then the general workforce.
Each subordinate level relies on the level they report to in understanding the essence of the company, its goals, its vision, its mission and its values.
In any case, the people who make up the grouping called an institution [I use institution as a catch all word] sometimes are sacrificed for the survival of the institution. Noble as this might seem, we forget that traditions, cultures, institutions and so on were made for men and not men for those things.
Unfortunately, institution almost always wins in the battle against the self-same people who make up the institution and hence the need for mission statements and voluble policies which appear to give the institution a human face. A face is not enough without a heart - I would develop this in a further blog.
Non, Je ne regrete rien
My old company, for which I should still serve a notice period offered a lot of promise and that is all it offered for my career, development, remuneration, future and gratitude. Even promises have a use by date, cynicism tempts one to confuse promise with lies.
I have done my bit, I can look to my future with a sense of achievement and great expectations - I am on more than speaking terms with my bosses over the last 14 years, I wonder about where it would end with this one.
We probably are both at fault, HR however, is ever so pragmatic about this, if I do not dot my Is or cross my Ts, I have been less than scrupulous.
That said, I am only human, I wish people were just a little more human and less sociopathic, leaving wounded people all the way to your peaks can only have you gravely wounded on your way back, without help, without support and without friends - it is a strange world we live in, but it is still a very beautiful sunny day in Gran Canaria.

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