Mismanagement – Ranting Against the Machine

Third time’s the charm right?

I’m struggling a bit tonight to find a proper voice/tone for a post. Got about halfway through two others and it just didn’t feel right. I hadn’t generally thought of myself as relying so much on “intuition” when writing, but I should give that some further thought.

I find it both sad and amusing to observe new front-line managers. I remember so well when I was in their shoes. Young, ready to follow the rules, get the job done, and climb that career ladder. It’s so hard now to identify exactly where that changed. When I realized the rules were generally more like guidelines that only applied to some of the people some of the time. When I realized that looking out for your team members was way more useful than literally anything the boss said.

I’ve been watching the “newbie” running that area I’m in close proximity to as he slowly turns his team on him and itself. Not usually in large sweeping gestures, but mostly in small subtle ones. The most prominent of which is a very nitpicky application of the stated rules without any consideration for his team members.

A popular one, at the moment, is the stated rule that nobody should be allowed a bathroom break 30 minutes before or after a scheduled break. I understand the reasoning and logic, there are certain individuals that will abuse the privilege by asking for one five to ten minutes before and simply not coming back until after the scheduled break. It’s easier to create a rule for “everybody” than it is to confront a single problematic individual. At the very least it allows you to say that it’s “fair” because you’re making everyone do it instead of singling them out.

In reality, the human body isn’t always compliant with such arbitrary time limits. So what if break is 20 minutes away? We work in an active, hot, and humid environment where people who don’t consume fluids tend to end up laying on the floor. At some point you must accept that the downside of safety is acknowledging that sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go.

If I would be a better or worse manager for thinking there’s another way, I don’t know. Both the manager and the fill-in have asked me specifically not to give them the breaks. I’m not in their chain of command, so I’ve largely ignored that. In fact, it’s far more beneficial to me to have the workers happy and paying attention than it is to enforce the dumb rule for people who aren’t abusing it, especially when their overlord is typically halfway across the plant. In his defence, that isn’t entirely his fault, just a foolish decision from his superiors.

The whole problem is a sort of metaphor for the larger labor shortage. Draconian policies created partially for business reasons and partially to punish a few exploiters, who always find new exploits anyway, make it difficult to live like a normal human being. It seems to me that it’s the very incarnation of humans as a resource instead of humans as people. I could list off a whole pile of examples, but I fail to see how that would help.

It also seems I have inadvertently tapped into my disgruntledness.

I wish there was some way I could point out to him exactly what it’s going to cost him, but I didn’t listen when I was there and he doesn’t really listen now. It seems to be one of those lessons that is often learned the hard way. I know I did. I know my best friend did.

I suppose that’s enough rant for one day. Certainly has a lot more energy behind it than my other two drafts.

Y’all take care. Remember that workers and laborers are people too, and deserve to be treated as such.

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