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frustration vs defeat December 3, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Economic Downturn, Getting Fired, Seen Elsewhere.
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Overheard in the Newsroom:

Last year on my self-evaluation I wrote a lot because I was frustrated. This year I will write little because I’m defeated.

The right to make your voice heard on your self-evaluation is huge. It’s the one time during the year when you can get on record how you feel and what changes you want to make. It’s very freeing. You still have to be careful — you don’t want to badmouth your boss because your boss, after all, is the one who decides if you deserve a raise — but for the most part, if you hate the way your department is run ragged by another department, you can certainly say it.

The thing is, most people aren’t getting raises this year. They’re lucky to keep their jobs at all in most cases, what with the across-the-board layoffs and more people having to do more work but make less money. And they know that if they make too many waves, they’ll be tabbed for the next round of job losses.

Anyway, if you aren’t getting a raise, it’s unlikely you’ll get more than a perfunctory meeting with your boss where s/he tries to convince you that you need to stick around and do your best even though you’re not seeing anything good happening in your job. You may not even be asked to self-evaluate, and if you are, your boss is just as likely to throw it on file and be done with it. So why would you bother to write a lot? Or anything at all?

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you’re not here to make a difference November 5, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Observations.
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You’d be surprised how many cubicles there are in the media, as evidenced by this post:

“If you want to make a difference, go somewhere else. This is a newspaper.”

You will not make a difference here. (CC-licensed photo by star5112)I can think of very few cubicle-based jobs that involve making a difference for the better. Doctors save lives; professors and teachers influence the next generation; people who run homeless shelters are turning on a light in the night.

What are you doing? Are you building a website for a company that makes couches? Are you designing the heads-up display for a sportscar that only a small percentage of the world will be able to afford? Are you the accountant for a music label?

You’re not changing the world by sitting in a cubicle. You’re not there to make a difference. You’re there to further your company’s interests and get paid for it. You’ll then go spend all the money you make (and more) to simply keep up with your neighbors and make your parents proud — or, worse, make sure that the parents of your kid’s classmates don’t figure out that you really can’t afford to shop at designer clothing stores.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a job where I thought I was changing the world or making a difference in anyone’s life. I’ve done some media work that helped people by giving them information they might not have otherwise had, but it’s not like their lives were appreciably changed.

Of course, there’s the other side to that, too: what if the small thing you do makes life better for someone, and the butterfly effect takes hold? What if the website you’re making for Couchmasters helps someone get a couch they really want, and they’re happy, so the next day at church they’re in a good mood and they donate extra to the collection plate? You get the idea. It’s like that Kevin Spacey movie where Haley Joel Osment wore that ridiculous tank-top in all the previews.

(Yes, I know what it’s called.)

Okay, fine, so occasionally you make a difference. But don’t delude yourself; that’s not why you have your job. Not if you’re sitting in a cubicle for most of the day.

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