Friday, December 19, 2003

A Disgruntled Observation

I'm pretty disgruntled with my employer, and have been for about a year. I'm not going into the why and when (I get angry just thinking about it), but suffice to say that the company has dealt me several direct face-slaps, all the while telling me how valued I am, how good with the clients, blah blah. Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about corporate America in general. Is it really any more efficient than the public sector?

Sure, it's easier to fire a private employee, but what does that matter when you're replacing him with an even bigger dunderhead? By keeping Dunderhead #1, you're at least getting consistency, if not quality. Don't think it happens? The new prez of my company goes on and on about a worker (who will be known here as Annoying) who's really a better talker than she is a doer. "Annoying is such a great worker...she'll go far in this company." That's a direct quote. Fact is, she's knows nothing, but she can talk a great game. And she's pretty, which I am sure accounts for much of that acclaim. Annoying isn't alone, either; this company is rife with people who do great B.S. but know little and do less.

I've held seven jobs since high school, six of them in the private sector, and in most of 'em I was surrounded by people who definitely did NOT put government workers to shame. This is the breakdown I see:

30% - Waste of oxygen, good only for keeping chairs warm, but obviously so.
30% - Average worker, basically earns keep.
10% - Also a waste of oxygen, yet presents the appearance of productivity and talent. The most pernicious of the breed.
20% - Motivated and fairly talented, definitely worth keeping around.
10% - Bright and gifted, assets to organization.

It sounds cynical to say that only 60% of the workers in an average company are at least fair, but IMO it's the truth. Why not get rid of the other 40%? Because many of those are in management positions, and they don't eat their own. In fact, those in Group #3 tend to rise to management, which shows you just how pernicious they are. It's one thing to be a fool; quite another to be a fool in charge.

I once heard someone say on a posting board that someone who can succeed at business has the requisite skills to hold public office. Judging from the "successful" people with whom I've worked, I'd say they're barely qualified to hold a spoon.


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