Friday, August 29, 2008

#442 Bad Jobs

#442 Bad Jobs

We have been considering this topic in this space for years: how do people get away with doing a terrible job.... and finally come to something of a conclusion, even a benevolent one.

It's not universal, of course. But it's epidemic -- or close to it.

Call customer service, shop in a store, eat at a fast food joint, or even a
multi- star restaurant.

Go to school. Go to work. Ride mass transit, hunt for a house or for a car.

Often, what you find is someone who isn't paying attention to you, gets an order wrong, can't move a line through a checkout register, can't mow a lawn, shovel a walk, inject a medication, polish a nail, change the oil, process the photographs, catch or prosecute or defend a crook, file a piece of paper, operate a toll booth, fill a gas tank or scramble an egg.

We've searched and searched for answers. Considered bad training, bad bosses, bad working conditions, bad hair days, low wages, low self esteem, low IQ, low people skills, low communication skills.

How about an explanation that doesn't account for conscious inadequacies?

Okay, here it is. Some people (a LOT of people, really,) don't know what work IS or is supposed to be.

All the dandy training programs and MBA-driven business plans one can get on the job are worthless if you don't know what work is in the first place.

First, it's showing up. that's worth a LOT of points up front. Even better is showing up on time or (perish the thought) even early.

Then it's paying attention to the needs of the job.

It's almost inconceivable, but some people just don't know that work isn't a social occasion for which one is paid.

It's not a place to go to have conversations about the latest fashions, baseball scores, weather, boyfriends, girlfriends whatever.

Sure, there are down moments you can do that... but it shouldn't be (as often seems to be the case,) the primary priority.

When you're on the line at the burger joint, and the counter operator can't get the order straight, it's annoying, maybe infuriating. But you'll live to go through it again.

What happens, though, when the worker in question is, say, a pilot or the clerk in an emergency room? or a broker's assistant -- or the broker him or herself?

There is training for this, but it has to happen long before anyone is old enough to enter the workforce.

This is something that should be taught at home.

In order to work, you have to know what work IS.


--The Democratic Party convention is over. Not a minute too soon. Another night of speeches would have caused seizures.

--But... Obama's acceptance speech was like few others. Compare it with JFK and FDR. You think they don't make 'em like that anymore. They sure did last night.

--The Republican Party convention is about to begin. It's much more powerful. The seizures come on the first night.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(R)
(C)WJR 2008

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