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which way the wind is blowing October 27, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Observations.
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This isn’t the first time I’ve seen signs of trouble — new rules, people leaving every other week, changes that no one (including management) really likes, more work for fewer people — in a job I’ve held. In fact, what’s happening now at many corporations and businesses is very similar to what happened at a job I had between five and ten years ago.

At least half of the part-time employees were upset with something or someone. At least half of the full-time employees felt the same. The part-timers who were happy with the state of affairs were the ones who are most disliked by the others. Some of them looked at objectionable websites, some of them didn’t show up on time if at all, some of them lied about being (or not being) on the schedule, and some of them were, to put it bluntly, 95% asshole.

What do you do when one person smells which way the wind is blowing long before everyone else?

That happened there. One employee seemed at first to simply be upset about everything, many of his complaints seeming to lack substance, sense, or sensibility. But after a while we all started to see what he meant. He’d seen personnel problems, he’d seen training problems, he’d even seen aesthetic and cooperative problems, and he saw them all long before any of us even noticed.

Or cared to do anything about it.

It all came to a head after about three months. Four part-time employees who had been there since day one expressed their frustration openly. Two of them seriously considered quitting. One of them let everything roll off, like water on rocks, staying above it all. And the fourth was sometimes part of the problem, but usually part of the solution.

There was one person who skirted openly racist comments by the tiniest of margins, ignored instructions, did horrible work, seemed to have forgotten all of our training, and was generally an asshole. There was one person who made an effort to do the job the right way, but for some reason, something about him really bothered everyone else. There was one person almost universally disliked except by, as I said before, the people who thought they could do no wrong.

Myself and my senior co-workers tried our best to stay above it all, but it got pretty difficult.

What do you do when you see which way the wind is blowing before management does?

What can you do?

Precious little. Except wait for the fallout.

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