Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Storm Season - Thinking About Work

It has been a fairly quiet morning here at the office. It is amusing that it seems to happen when management is out of the office, either on work trips or on vacation. It's not that the work load changes (same volume of flow), but that there is far less turbulence. Managing resources and people can be an art form and many of the people who arrive in management positions are not artists.

My calendar is rather subdued this week as well (because of the let of "explain what you are doing to management" meetings). However, let me explain what subdued means. I work four nine hour days this week, for a total of 36 hours. 18 hours are scheduled meetings. Fully 50% of my official work time. Subdued. About 4 hours of meetings that have any meaning/value.

I'm still mulling over what it means to me that sense of fairness (proportional justice) has been tripped. I am not sure how to respond to that. Additionally I am trying to figure out what is the best way to respond going forward - what the best course of action is for me. There is always a way forward, always a way out of the chaos, but the question inside of is - what cost, and is the journey out worth the cost? I don't know. I wish I had an answer. I don't like being so ambivalent in regards to work.

I actually enjoy "work", I can certainly throw myself into it. But I am also human and as such, I need all those things that are the keys to happiness and engagement at work. Appreciation, respect, trust, individual growth, a good boss, compatible co-workers, and a sense of purpose. (List from the Christian Science Monitor "Seven things employees want most to be happy at work." Marilyn Gardner January 28, 2008.) Looking at the list I have two of seven, the other five have gotten very fuzzy over the last year or two.

I currently have no sense of appreciation, either formal or informal, from upper management or in the form of concrete and visible actions. I also have no sense of trust or respect from upper management - we've slipped into a top down, micro-managed world, which I do not like. Individual growth is stagnant, pretty much across the board, unless you are one of the politically chosen. I've completely lost my sense of purpose, in part because in the micro-managed world we're frozen out of the strategic level discussions. There seems, to me, to be a deliberate avoidance of solid definitions and measurements of success.

I do have a good manager. How long she is going to put up with my fighting the status quo and pointing out the Emperor is Butt Nekkid will be an interesting thing to learn. However, having a good manager also makes the process of fighting the status quo more difficult, because to a lesser degree I find myself fighting with someone I like and respect, which contributes significantly to both the ambivalence and the emotional/psychological turmoil.

For the most part I've also got good co-workers as well. The combination of good coworkers and a good manager do make the environment more tolerable, and let's make no mistake - I know and appreciate that I have a job that has good pay and good benefits and in better seasons has been a better job. I just seem to be trapped in a storm season here at work.
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