Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Would you risk losing your job?

In any place of business you'll likely find office politics, favoritism or some other form of behavior that creates animosity between one or more employees. A person in this position likely asks him or herself the question "do I complain and risk losing my job or do I keep my mouth shut and just remember this job isn't my life and I won't be here forever?"

In a perfect world a person could go to their boss and make a legitimate gripe and something would get done. In a perfect world, the boss wouldn't be a part of the gripe, making it even more difficult to complain about it.

Before you're asking if I'm referring to me, I'll settle that with a resounding "no". I am happy in my job and while there are politics here and there, they take place at a much higher level which excludes me. This is not necessarly about any one person and one situation in particular but I am using one particular person's situation as an example.

Marcus works in a store with about 20 other employees, among them is a lower level manager and the head supervisor. The head supervisor answers to a a higher authority at headquarters. Marcus always on time for work, never overextends his breaks and doesn't call in sick a lot. He does his job and he does it well and all he wants is to be left alone to do it and go home when the day is done. Marcus knows this job isn't the rest of his life, it's a means to an end. His goals are to get a degree in Architecture and he takes night courses at the local college whenever he can. Unfortunately many of Marcus's fellow employees don't have the same work ethic as he does. Some come in late, leave early, they don't do their jobs properly, play computer games when work is backed up. In his area there are about 10 employees and when he's there many of them don't do their jobs, they know he will get the job done. After returning to work from being sick or on vacation, Marcus finds that everything in his area is backed up. He took a five day vacation only to come back and find that all of the orders that needed to be stocked hadn't been done. What have the ten people in his area been doing for a week?

Marcus tries complaining to the low level manager named Rick but Rick doesn't care, he just blows Marcus off and says he doesn't know what he's talking about, that Marcus isn't a supervisor so it's not his business. In the meantime Marcus feels it is his business. Why is he doing all the work? And when he's gone, what are these people doing? Marcus hates when Rick blows him off like that, but it doesn't surprise him. There was a time when Rick was a regular store worker like Marcus and even then he was one of the lazy ones.

Marcus has thrown hints at the head supervisor whose name is Curt but Curt doesn't seem to do anything about it. It's like he's just there waiting for his eventual retirement. Oh Curt's a nice guy but for some reason he just doesn't make people do their jobs. Although to his credit he has leaned on people hard who come in late but that's the extent of it.

Marcus has been told on many occasions that he's just a worker bee and his opinions about what goes on there don't mean anything. They'd prefer he just shut up and do his job and not worry about what other people are doing. But it's hard for Marcus because while he works hard every day, many of his coworkers slack off and earn their pay for doing very little. This isnt' to say they don't ever work, there are times they do, but their slacking has become so often that it's really affecting Marcus's morale. At times he thinks he should just be like them and not do anything and see what happens. But in his mind that would be wrong. Besides, Marcus is the kind of man who doesn't kiss any ass, he doesn't want favors, and because he doesn't kiss up to management, if he slacked off he would be the first one to be chastised. And so he keeps on working and doing the best he can.

Marcus has often thought of going above the head supervisor to his boss at HQ and just complaining but he knows that he can be let go and no reason has to be given. Marcus has a family and they have to keep two incomes flowing in the household. His job pays decent and it has great education and health benefits and he really couldn't find something as good locally. As much as he'd like to say something, his responsibility of working and taking care of his financial obligations takes precedence. Marcus reminds himself every day that the job he works is not his career and he will not be doing it forever. It's just a means to getting what he wants out of life and that's all.

In the meantime Marcus's story has me thinking what the rest of us would do in those circumstances. How on earth do you keep your cool and just let it roll off your back? How do you handle watching others slack off while you carry the load? And how do you handle it when the supervisors just don't seem to do anything about it?

An interesting dilemma indeed.

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