Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Office Politics Part II - Is Isolation the Answer?

I hit a bump in the road on this one; better yet, a sinkhole. I don't have a clever solution. So I stopped blogging for a while, which became a almost a month of retreat. I have been working from home and going into work once a week to get my social fix. And, I have felt better. But yesterday I went into work and talked with a friend and I got an earful. My tension levels went through the roof and my friend even noticed the change in my demeanor.

Well, isolation works as long as you can stay away from the fray indefinitely. But if you care deeply, you can easily get sucked back into the grinder. Several people have asked me in the past few weeks whether I was considering finding employment elsewhere. I don't even have to say that I'm overwhelmed. They just seem to know. I haven't been complaining either. I'm really surprised that people notice, since this seems to be par for the course for most of us.
The distillation of this is that we can choose. We can choose to keep our heads down. We can choose to rail against the machine and get noticed in a negative way. We can choose to play and get caught up in the game. We can choose to leave and find a place to work that is more compatible with our personal beliefs and work style.
I yearn to see a change in corporate structure that puts an end to self serving behavior and the desire to make more money, more money. One would have thought that the financial meltdown would have shaken people enough to start the ball of change rolling. But those that have survived have become more entrenched not less. They are scared and are relying on what they know rather than focusing on the unfamiliar yet more productive way of approaching business.
While economists and analysts are focussing on the next consumer crisis: the dependence on credit to finance lifestyle without the ability to pay it back; I am wondering why they aren't focusing on corporations that are doing the same thing. Businesses have adopted new ways of viewing profitability that ignore the simple mathematics of: profit = revenue - costs. The truth is hidden behind the huge debt these companies have, their frequent refinancing of that debt, and paying the minimum on the debt while accumulating even more.
This may seem a digression from the topic of office politics, but I believe this mentality has everything to do with the disconnect between executive management and priorities and the realities of delivering the services to customers and providing a fair working environment for employees.
Customers and employees are given the minimum amount necessary to retain them. Instruments are used to retain customers - given freebies at the onset and then held to contracts that have painful withdrawal clauses. Employees are given just enough income to make it appear they are being paid more than workers in other companies, but the demands on their time are so much greater. Employees become used to the income and find it hard to leave and take the pay cut.
This kind of environment is not healthy and actually intensifies the game. As Harry said to Hermione when talking about Umbridge's punishment with the flesh engraving pen, "This is anything but simple"
So, we are back to making choices.
The first choice is that of awareness: recognizing the situation the way it is and not falling prey to spin and other instruments of denial.
The second choice is that of self preservation: choosing what I need to do to maintain my sanity, security and self integrity.
The third choice is that of service to others: choosing to treat people the way they should be treated rather than following the corporate pattern. I may not be able to effect change on the corporate level, but I can make a co-workers life easier by recognizing their true value as a human being.
Isolation is dangerous. Without information I cannot be aware, make choices that preserve my interests or improve the welfare of those around me. This doesn't mean embroiling myself in these discussions and obsessing on them on a daily basis. Rather, a choice to take in and process information to maintain my awareness of the working environment. Anger and outrage do nothing to help me or others around me. These emotions feed on themselves and create anxiety. It all comes down to, and maybe you could see this one coming, to having "the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."


  1. I really enjoyed this post. It is good to see and feel the compassion for humanity in someone's writing. Isolation from information is deadly to the physical body and the soul. I was well on my way to being eaten up by anger and outrage several years ago, and as you pointed out, reaching out to others has helped to heal me, and gave me strength. I just wander why so many people gleefully bash government and the agencies in its service, and yet willingly allow themselves to be swallowed up in the void of corporatocracy.

  2. Thanks Jeanette! I'm glad you were able to pull through that time. Its funny how we can be so focused yet not see anything. :-)

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