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Thread: Why do so many workplaces suck

  1. #1
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    Why do so many workplaces suck

    Really I hear about work environments that are not just kinda bad but really toxic. It seems that some of the people who think it is toxic might be able to eventually make things better.

    I may be all idealistic, just seems that too many ways to survive are also killing us.

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Believe me, I'm not an apologist for this current culture, but I also have no delusions that work should be fun. That's why work is work and fun is fun. If your work is fun, that's icing on the cake, but maybe that's just a Baby Boomer's view. I think Millennials see it differently. I've just always endured what I've had to in order to provide for myself and my family. I took the Serenity Prayer approach: Change what you can, accept what you can't, and learn to discern the difference. It worked for me.

    As I said, I would prefer to see a nation of worker cooperatives, and everyone getting along, but if you have the first part, you don't necessarily have the second part. (A lot of my hippie friends who have lived in communes attest to that). People are people and you sometimes have to just figure out how to get along.

    Again, this is just my experience. I am not defending horrible work environments. And I don't think this particular culture is sustainable. But my life is my own to build. I am the master of my ship and the master of my fate as it were.
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    I think it is somewhat part of our instant info culture. Answer right away, be always on and available, do it right now, conflicting demands, etc. Some jobs experience little stability and little time to take a breath and become proficient. In addition, the treatment of employees as merely cogs and pieces of equipment that can be hired or let go as needed does not help.

    I remember a boss almost 35 years ago or longer actually tell me he demanded twice as much as he knew could be done. Always remembered that comment.

    And lastly, all I can see is top down communication with no involvement of anyone on the lower levels.

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    I think that top down is part of what shifted this year, not as much taking our feedback. Big change to me in our culture. But maybe I am just hearing from people who are having an extremely hard time.

    I expect it to be work, not to love every part of it or to never be challenged on my work. I know the speed is hard for me because i really think things through and plan.

    I have also heard our culture in general is getting more narcissistic and that people kn charge tend to already be that way.,....

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I understand that among managers, it helps to be a sociopath--humanity really gets in the way.

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    because there are very few good jobs that pay anything enough to live on just a bunch of gig economy work, so you have to put up with anything under the sun to get any job (being on call, travel all over the world, nightmarish commutes, no vacation, abusive bosses who yell at you etc.) and everyone is afraid (and rightly so!) to leave their jobs no matter if they aren't that good because it could be worse. I used to think this was lack of ambition to just stay at a dead end job that is getting you nowhere forever because you are too afraid or not motivated enough to leave (i mean to leave for another job), but who knew it was actually wisdom.

    But I'm just letting off steam, the real answer is well things were maybe never great in our lifetimes, but something really shifted hard after the last recession and has never shifted back.

    You endure what you have to endure, but at a certain point I actually literally can't endure anymore, like I could work ok, that's not it, if a hiring manager chose me that would be it. But I can't keep studying more and more and more of stuff I'm sick of at this point, that's why I may have to try to do something else. Like literally you do what you hate until the money doesn't follow anymore and you can't anymore either ...
    Last edited by ApatheticNoMore; 7-5-18 at 10:00pm.
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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ApatheticNoMore View Post
    because there are very few good jobs that pay anything enough to live on just a bunch of gig economy work, so you have to put up with anything under the sun to get any job (being on call, travel all over the world, nightmarish commutes, no vacation, abusive bosses who yell at you etc.) and everyone is afraid (and rightly so!) to leave their jobs no matter if they aren't that good because it could be worse. I used to think this was lack of ambition to just stay at a dead end job that is getting you nowhere forever because you are too afraid or not motivated enough to leave (i mean to leave for another job), but who knew it was actually wisdom.

    But I'm just letting off steam, the real answer is well things were maybe never great in our lifetimes, but something really shifted hard after the last recession and has never shifted back.

    You endure what you have to endure, but at a certain point I actually literally can't endure anymore, like I could work ok, that's not it, if a hiring manager chose me that would be it. But I can't keep studying more and more and more of stuff I'm sick of at this point, that's why I may have to try to do something else. Like literally you do what you hate until the money doesn't follow anymore and you can't anymore either ...
    A few questions:
    1. How much money do you need to make a year to be content?
    2. Would you move to another city or state for a job?
    3. Would you take a job in a different field that you are used to?
    4. How simply are you willing to live?
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneV2.0 View Post
    I understand that among managers, it helps to be a sociopath--humanity really gets in the way.
    Jane, you are really right here.

    At my places of work the more sociopathic a person is the more promotions they get, the higher their salary. I think sociopathy comes in degrees. And the big dogs are major sociopaths. I also think a form of sociopathy can be learned too, like aspiring big dogs can learn to act sociopathic to get promotions and raises.

    Being a manager means you have to be willing, probably even enjoy, making others miserable with extra work, denied vacation days, guilt over taking sick days, and so forth. You have to enjoy manipulating and controlling people.

    At my work the most ethical and compassionate folks work thankless jobs and are never considered for a promotion.

    We have one big boss at work, very much a dark triad personality. And people fairly openly refer to him as a sociopath. He is the youngest person to ever reach this height in the organization too. People truly fear having to work for him.
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    While I will agree that sociopathy currently is enjoying a surge among managers and executives at all levels, having been a manager myself, I think there's another side to the view here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ultralight
    Being a manager means you have to be willing, probably even enjoy, making others miserable with extra work, denied vacation days, guilt over taking sick days, and so forth. You have to enjoy manipulating and controlling people.
    As a manager, you are responsible for making sure the work gets done. Sometimes it's not always the amount of work you -- or the people who report to you -- expected it to be. Sometimes emergencies happen. In today's "never-enough-people-on-the-bench" staffing model, most employees have defined responsibilities and skill sets. Having Joe substitute for Joan on a project may mean Joe operating out of his expertise, taking longer and possibly making more mistakes in addition to trying to get his previous workload done.

    Denied vacation days/guilt over sick days? Again, the lean staffing model and uncertain workloads make it difficult to allow vacation days whenever people want to take them. I tried hard to honor the "we already paid for the cruise" requests but the "mental health days" sometimes got a 'no'.

    Sick days? One of the people reporting to me -- our sole guy on evening coverage -- was prone to calling in sick, sometimes for days at a time. Not much opportunity for me to ask (or draft) someone to take on his shift. Yet our group was charged with being available to support the rest of the company. His absence meant salespeople weren't sending in orders; customers weren't getting responses from tech support -- and my group was not getting paid for the service we were not providing. I suppose handling that would be easier for a sociopath. But not all managers are sociopaths.

    Being a successful manager does involve "manipulating and controlling" people. You can say it in the pejorative manner I think it's being used here. Or you can see it in terms of someone being responsible for yoking the energy of several people whose goals don't always match the company's.

    Some folks are there to collect their paycheck and they'll do what they have to do, but they'll never look far enough ahead to figure out and take the next step. Some folks do excellent work but the work has to be very well defined for them; others just need their piece of the jigsaw puzzle and they'll figure out what it looks like and how it should fit. Some folks are on their own power trip or are just hacked off at life and their goals are not at all your group's goals. All of these people need to know what's expected of them; all of them need their own form of motivation provided for them; all of them remain individuals in all of their positive glory and negative attributes.

    I agree that lots of workplaces suck. Even places that used to be great suck. And sociopaths are far too popular these days. But I would draw the line at a general rule that anyone who is a manager must enjoy making people miserable.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  10. #10
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultralight View Post
    Jane, you are really right here.

    At my places of work the more sociopathic a person is the more promotions they get, the higher their salary. I think sociopathy comes in degrees. And the big dogs are major sociopaths. I also think a form of sociopathy can be learned too, like aspiring big dogs can learn to act sociopathic to get promotions and raises.

    Being a manager means you have to be willing, probably even enjoy, making others miserable with extra work, denied vacation days, guilt over taking sick days, and so forth. You have to enjoy manipulating and controlling people.

    At my work the most ethical and compassionate folks work thankless jobs and are never considered for a promotion.

    We have one big boss at work, very much a dark triad personality. And people fairly openly refer to him as a sociopath. He is the youngest person to ever reach this height in the organization too. People truly fear having to work for him.
    My son feels exactly like you and Jane do. We just had this conversation the other day. DH and I disagreed with the generalization. Of course there are jerks everywhere, but in general people don't take managerial positions just for the sheer pleasure of making their underlings' lives miserable. I've had many managers, and I could say that most of them were wonderful people. My first boss when I got into market research at age 46 was (is) one of the finest people I know. As a manager, she was pleasant, caring, knew exactly when to let me do my thing and when I needed a little more of her involvement. She taught me, she laughed with me, she praised me as if I were her daughter (her being MY daughter was the more likely scenario age-wise, but point is she was very, very nurturing.) I would almost tattoo her name on my arm. "WWJD" (What Would "J.." Do?)

    I could also give Boss Hall of Fame awards to two of my bosses at my first job at a major broadcasting network at NBC; also to a fantastic mentor of a boss when I worked on a college campus; and definitely to the woman who gave me market research job; and two of the subsequent bosses I got at that same company.

    I would give honorable mentions to 2 of my bosses at the chemical corporation I worked at, even though I HATED the company itself.

    Maybe I was just lucky, but I think a blanket attitude that managers are all manifestations of Simon LeGree is just patently false, and leads us down yet another counterproductive road of "us" vs "them"
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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