Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Road To Hell, Paved By Women?

I am wondering what got into us. Why do we make things harder? Women should know better. I keep hoping these are isolated incidences. But, they're not. I hear about it more and more. I'm quite sick of it. Really.

Madeleine Albright, 1st female U.S. Secretary of State said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." I couldn't agree more. As I see it, there will be a whole lot of sisters toasting their tootsies in an uncomfortably hot spot. And, they will have earned it. Tell me, why don't women worry about cultivating a spirit of cooperation more than they worry about competing against other women?

My best friend, Pam, recently started a job after two years of searching. Her prior position at Washington Mutual was eliminated due to restructuring. She did her due diligence through the interview process; asked the correct questions to be certain she was signing on with an organization that held better corporate values. She was excited about what she was told. Life as it was described seemed to be in sync with how she sees the world. Pam believes that a professional works daily to accomplish goals and objectives; to be a cordial, willing, dependable team mate; and an even better provider of customer service. Pammy is one of the best women I know.

Can I tell you how miserable she is? In her entire career she's never felt as alone or unhappy. Even the hostile end days at WaMu pale in comparison. She works with women, mostly. I can probably end here; for many, that's 'nuff said. My daughter Melissa, surviving various female-generated, work-place horror stories would simply say, "Yup. Been there; got the tee-shirt."

Not long ago, I took a job described as a good match for my skills. I lasted 90 days before pulling the plug. I have never done that before- never. But, the notion of going in day after day and dealing with the same craziness? Absolutely not. I kept thinking it was me...Did I miss something through the interview? Did I have a stroke and not hear them describe this hell?

It was a hard job: no problem. A hard job made miserable because it's a chaotic quagmire? Unnecessary. The staff was primarily women. Within days I could identify the ones who were pleasant to my face but starting the ripples of undercurrent when my back was to them. Sadly, not unexpected. When you must work with them in order to accomplish your duties, then what?

What I, as the new person, wasn't prepared for was the manager's position on it all. The boss, who wanted me very badly for this job, said, "I'm sorry to see you go. But, there's nothing I can do. I don't get involved with this stuff. I stay out of staff intrigues, follow corporate policy, and do my job." Nice. That's supportive. So, there's nothing that can be done to stop the insanity? Amazing.

How did it happen? When did organizations decide that it's simply easier to churn through employees with an attitude of, "We can always find another one." Abdicating responsibility of growing positive corporate cultures? You'd rather lose another positive, bright-eyed staffer than counsel a negative, emotionally-grinding one? Doesn't anyone see the waste that comes from constantly training new people only to have them run-off? Do you care that projects never move forward because they get dropped at the revolving door? What about the bad P.R. created by the abused employee telling everyone how bad things are at 'that place'? Can't you see that if employees behave badly with one of their own, they most certainly will with your customers? Honestly...

Pam's heartache is caused by the unwillingness of her office mates to incorporate her, show her the ropes, or welcome her. To share information. To lend the newbie a hand. To act like Human Beings. She is shocked by the passive-aggressive attitude the women exhibit. The negative things they say about the work and the customers. I'd like to tell her to hang in there; it's simply because she's new and it takes time. However, it has nothing to do with her being new. It won't get better.

If it hadn't happened recently to me- if it didn't echo Melissa's experiences, I'd say that Pammy just made a bad choice. But, she didn't. I didn't. It is how the corporate world behaves now. How did things spiral so badly? How did Human Beings, particularly women, devolve to the point where they'd rather destroy a new person's morale than lend a hand? What happened to caring about your grade in the "plays well with others," category?

Here's a heretical notion: Women, stop confusing your work place with a popularity contest. Contrary to the way many females on the job think, there is no requirement that you must like me in order to work with me. A mature professional respects that we both have places on the team, regardless of whether you'd choose me as a friend, and acts accordingly. Grow up! It's not about liking or disliking; it's about getting the job done. You don't have to socially groove with all your team-mates. Professional satisfaction can't be only about how you feel; it has to be about how you perform, too! And, the requirement to be a civil Human Being is not a variable dependent on whether you 'like' someone. Period.

The more important issue is when the disconnect occurred. Can businesses truly not know that things inside are shockingly different from how they represent them to a potential employee? Are they deluded or flat-out lying? And, if they know how things are... how far their culture has crumbled, when did they decide to turn a blind-eye rather than address it? Shame on them! Shame. And, especially shame on us, women, who purport to care so much about feelings.

Namaste' Till Next Time,


melissa said...

This is why, when interviewing, I tell people that I was raised by my father NOT to "think like a girl" in work, sports, or social settings. (Relationships is a whole other blogoshpere!!) I explain that I am happiest with a list of tasks and instructions, can work with anyone, and hate whining. I save all my whining for when I get home or to the bar.

Maybe, just maybe...we few could lead by example. Try to watch our backs. And keep a job for more than a year or two without going absolutely, hospitalization-style, hair-pulling, bitch-slapping INSANE.

Good luck to all of you that know how to be a woman and ALSO know how to get a job done.

teachable said...

It's not just women...and not just in the workplace. It seems to be the human condition! We withhold compliments and fail to acknowledge others' accomplishments as if to do so would somehow tarnish or take away from ourselves in some way. Any public display of caring or compassion is confused with weakness; along with asking for the aforementioned. We (as a society)are afraid to hug or even touch the children in our schools and communities for fear of being labeled something bad; not that we ARE; but that seems to be the collective mindset these days.

Mahatma Gandhi tells us that we must BE the change we wish to see in the world. And A Course In Miracles tells me that the only thing missing in any circumstance is what "I" am not putting into it. When I am blaming someone or looking at what is wrong outside; I am living backwards (from the outside in)instead of from the inside--out. In my experience; life doesn't happen TO me, it happens FOR me; if I allow it. This perception and the perception changes brought about by saints such as Gandhi and spiritual writings like A Course In Miracles gives me a spiritual solution to this human condition. I have to remember that the "spiritually-minded" are in the minority and that isn't always a very comfortable place to be in, but it is a necessary place. (As Melissa said, "maybe...just maybe, we few could lead by example" YES!
I'm in!

Anonymous said...

"When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves..."

If only this quote could be displayed in workplaces everywhere...

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