Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dancing the dance

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

---Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5

Yesterday, I made the mistake of talking to some of the newer coworkers about the Help Desk. These poor, naive kids were finally let in on the fact that no one here had received a raise in 4 years and the prospects of anyone receiving a raise in the foreseeable future were virtually nonexistent. I told them a little about how the company that previously "owned" the Help Desk screwed up and ended up being bought by the current Corporate Overlords.

Today, I was called into the new Site Manager's office to receive a talking to about how unprofessional this is.

I knew that eventually I would actually have a discussion with the new Site Manager and am actually surprised that it took this long for it to happen. He started off with an attempt to make me understand how this sort of talk is inappropriate. I countered that I was frustrated and those frustrations will occasionally overflow so much that I forget that management wants me to just sit down and shut up instead of daring to voice my observations. He didn't want to characterize it as "sit down and shut up" but, given the environment, I pointed out that there really isn't a place for me to constructively voice my concerns. He said that I could come into his office and voice my concerns to him but I said that I had been doing that for years to no appreciable improvement so there really was little point in that. I told him the whole sordid story; the public humiliations, the being kept in the dark about my own "firing" from being the trainer, being persona non grata, and all the things that have lead me to skepticism about the likelihood of change.

He wanted me to understand that he sees many of the things that concern me, especially the "not getting a raise in four years", and he is working on it. He even had the temerity to say that I should expect good news in the near term.

"You know, your predecessor said exactly the same thing. His predecessor said the same thing. And even HIS predecessor said exactly the same thing about the changes that were on the horizon but that horizon has never gotten any closer. Nothing they ever said was coming ever actually came. I have absolutely no reason to believe, in spite of your words to the contrary, that this time will be any different than the last three times."

He said he wanted me to understand and I said I understood but couldn't promise anything any more than someone can promise they will never be involved in an auto accident.

"My behavior is a result of frustration. And the thing about frustration is that if it is not alleviated, it eventually leads us to say and do things that are not in our best interests. I've been in this office numerous times for exactly the same thing. And in all those times Management said the same things, made the same promises of change. We do this little dance all the time and nothing has changed. Nothing except the person sitting behind the desk. I can't promise you that it will never happen again because it will happen again. I guarantee it. UNLESS. . . something changes. And not just talk of change. Actual change."

We went round and round for a full hour. Ultimately, like all Managers before him, I was left with the impression that he didn't want my understanding, he wanted my compliance. And, being the ethical, honest and probably delusional realist that I am, I never said. "OK. You're right. I'll never do it again." If I had, it would have been a much shorter meeting. Of course, then I would have been lying and would have had to justify my not keeping my promise the next time I was called into the office. I, at least, save myself that hypocrisy.

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