Stealing time


January 15, 1984


Rules, rules, rules!

And bosses who have nothing better to do that make more rules. Or have something to hide.

Perhaps they are just so incompetent that their own way of maintaining power is to build a network of rules, strict guidelines that do not require them to think or make real judgments.

There is something incredibly impersonal about rules.

They allow a manager to step back and remain aloof, keeping distance from the person he or she has to deal with.

Itís rarely eyeball to eyeball Ė person to person.

Wayne wastes time on the telephone, making and taking calls his job does not require.

He likes playing big shot about things that have nothing to do with his job.

Heís just another working stiff with aspirations, but hardly does what heís supposed to. Nearly everybody here agrees he should get fired.

But instead of confronting him about his bad work habits, management posts signs that pertain almost solely to him, as if we are all guilty of Wayneís ill behavior.

For the most part, nobody else is guilty of the crimes the sign is warning us against but management is so cowardly and incompetent, rather than take Wayne aside and scold him, management warns us all not to do what Wayne did.

This is all about control, of course, and management that is uncertain of its own human relations skills Ė needing to keep us all in line in case we get the idea that if Wayne can get away with things, we might also.

This is classic bad management.

Management doesnít want to deal with us as individuals, but as a collective, and so assumes that if one of us is guilty of something the rest of us will be sooner or later as well.

We all robots, bought by the petty salary that we are offered, and must comply to whatever petty dictates management tosses our way, even when these may not apply.

Management canít be management if doesnít not create a wall between us, a boundary line that shows the difference in power, much like the feudal lords that had their manor in the midst of poverty. To fear superior, management must see us as something other than individuals.

So we get weak-minded manager to sit in their offices and regulate. They have no place in production. They are there to make certain the workers do what we are supposed to do, and often as so much like Wayne as to be counter productive, working at justifying their own existence rather than making the end product better.

Our manager was no better than Wayne, often wasting hours on telephone calls in pretense of doing business, as heavy a piece of dead wood as Wayne was, but with a title to protect herself from the wrath of a owner who did not oversee him the way our manager oversees everybody else.

She spends so little time actually paying attention to what really goes on in the store that she hasnít a clue as to what the real problems are Ė and so when something pops out of nowhere, she takes the easy way out, creating a rule or posting a warning rather than talking to the person who is actually the problem in the first place.

But then, she doesnít feel confident enough in her own power to be able to confront Wayne without inventing a rule to back her up.

Everybody has to follow the rule, she figures, and so therefore, should Wayne Ė when the real answer is to make Wayne do the job heís paid for.

So we all suffer, being accused by a posted sign of a crime we never committed because the manager is too cowardly or incompetent to deal with the one person who is actually guilty. She not only accuses him to stealing time, but the rest of us as well.


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