Tag Archives: corporate America

American Corporate Influence or Life in the Losing Lane

Meh – I will probably get into trouble for this. Hey, look – I have 6 years in the workforce left; you wanna can me? C’est la vie but if I can get one person to think about life’s true priorities? I’m happy. Life is too short to guard your words, thoughts because of a corporate entity.

Obviously, I work for a corporation. I am a child of the late sixties and seventies; the movement that guided North American youth left its mark. I was too young for Woodstock but I remember seeing what corporate and corrupt politics did to young men in Vietnam, to people of colour in the south. I was old enough to follow Watergate and the junk bond crooks of Wall Street. My opinion of corporate and political minions were formed and as I started to move into the workforce, those opinions were validated and set in concrete.

As a Canadian, American points of view are everywhere but I am also a Quebecoise. As a Quebecois, I am influenced by the life view of Europe. We are Americanized on the surface but scratch that surface and the European culture runs deep.

Many of us work to live – we do not follow the American or the Americanized Canadian “live to work” philosophy. We know that this leads to a shallow and sad sort of life. A life bereft of real family connection, of true enjoyment of life.

Here’s a confession; I am connected to my job, 24/7 and I am working toward changing this. I am connected through my home computer, through my cell phone. I am tethered…no…I am willfully shackled to the company. What will this get me? If I’m lucky? A pat on the head. My problem is that I truly believe that customers are important – their needs, their requirements are a priority. Why is this a problem? Because when you work for a corporation with American talking heads? The real priority is the bottom line and if this means cutting staff and working the current employees into heart attacks, breakdowns or quitting in disgust? No matter, as long as a profit is shown.

Europe stands back and gazes in scorn. A few American corporations “get it” and as a result, leave other corporations in their fiscal dust….Google for example, Microsoft used to be thus but I’m not sure anymore. These are corporations that “get it”. They strive to attain balance between the priority of attracting and retaining staff that and to be quite blunt “give a shit” in their job. These companies encourage pride, reward hard work and maintain that work and life must be in balance. Wall Street and the big auto makers look down their noses at the policies of the Silicon Valley yet, although dot.com took a beating, it was the cream that rose to the top and the cream remain strong while Sally May and the auto companies had to go in search, as is viewed by the great unwashed, with hat-in-hand for bailouts. A bailout is failure. Not that the execs care. They still get their salaries and perks.

You see, the US and some of Canada is no better than the worst of the medieval world of Seigneurs and serfs. This is the feudal system gone 2017.

But, just as the serfs found ways to enjoy their lives, one day – the inequity, the cruelty will become too much and the serfs will find a way to fight back. Look up the word “sabotage”. The French and Russian revolutions are extreme examples but this is what happens when you treat the people, who allow you to feed at your trough, with no regard. History is replete with warnings. A lot of Europe took notes but the US and Canada seem to have forgotten their roots. We all arrived here due to some sort of feudal jack booting.

I have learned some valuable lessons in the corporate world – I learned the most valuable lesson of all, through the passing of a good friend. She died and corporate didn’t even take notice. She was a good worker, she had strong ethics and should have been a shining star but her ethics had her deemed a “troublemaker”. Work was heaped on her and when the stress began to show? She was the problem…not the company.

I lost my folks and a few good friends over the past 7 years and I deduced that life is too short to be indebted to a corporate entity that won’t even notice my departure – whether it is a moral coil departure or a “take this job and shove it” exit. It took a while for reality to set in.

If I drop off the face of the earth tomorrow? My seat won’t even be allowed to cool before the next peon is put in my chair. The corporation won’t comfort my husband, my kids or grandchildren. These people, these special people in my life don’t exist in the corporate milieu where I work, far more than those 8 hours a day, I am “technically” contracted to work.

So, in the future, my priorities will change – my ethics will not be set on the backburner, my family will not take second place. I will not be overburdened because corporate requires cutbacks. I will say “No.” I will re-set myself – a hard boot, so to speak.

All of this to say; wake up. The corporation will eat you up and spit you out. Your family will be cut loose. You are killing yourself to make someone else rich. You are those serfs from the middle ages. “Please sir, can I have some more?”, even though YOU are the one who has put that gruel in the pot.

I’ll do my job to the best of my ability, because I come from a family with a strong work ethic but I am also Quebecois and I now know that a line needs to be drawn. The corporation doesn’t care that I’m darn good at what I do. They can and will fill my chair with someone with less skill if they can find a cheap way to do it.

My life wasn’t given to me to be a sap for the rich. My life needs to be enjoyed because, goddam…it is too short to waste slaving for strangers who don’t give a damn.

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Target – Corporate Hubris Is Alive And Well!

Say  noCorporate hubris never fails to leave me in awe.  (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hubris.asp)

Case in point: Target Canada’s spectacular and very public implosion, leaving 17 000 people out of work.

It wasn’t the cashier who aided the demise, it wasn’t the guy on the loading dock, it wasn’t the sales “associate” looking for stock to stack on the empty shelves. No. This debacle came from the top. It came from the boardroom.

Target isn’t the first to crumble due to top heavy wastes of office space and salary. Look to the south of our Canadian border, the fall of the financial institutions. That disaster was a total boardroom design and operation.

An MBA does not translate to business know-how; it simply means the holder is able to retain certain forms of information. Doesn’t mean they actually know how to apply it in the real world.

Corporations are like organized crime; they hire from within their own little clique. Ability has nothing to do with these decisions. I’m in the corporate milieu; I see it daily and it is terrifying.

Consider the corporation as a physical entity for a few moments; you have your foundation, it’s strong enough for its current design but then you decide your friend needs a room, so you add one. Then another friend needs a room and you add that…pretty soon, your whole family, group of friends and your elementary, high school and university alumni want in. You keep building up, adding excess weight without paying attention to the foundation (your employees). The walls start to buckle because there is too little to carry the dead weight above.

The additions do not fit the initial intended use of the building; snap, crackle and ka-boom, down it comes. Luckily, the highest storied folks have golden parachutes to cushion their fall; sadly, the foundation (the ACTUAL workers) are crushed by the debris and then walked over, as the privileged parachuted ones leave the scene of their crime.

Members of a board are continually trying to validate themselves to the other members, to the chair people and to the stockholders. They use meta-speak to disguise the nonsense they are trying to pass as information.

They come up with plans while sitting poolside or while waiting for their turn to tee-off. Best laid plans…look great on paper but as they have no hands-on experience at the foundation level, they do nothing more than weaken the building further.

The LEAN/Kaizen thing is a great example. All the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the “foundation” – the employees; the methods leave the workers, if followed to the letter, of little more importance than the stapler placed in its designated spot on a desk. Yes – Lean/Kaizen do recommend that each item on the desk have “designated” spot and that there should be no personal items in view.

So, let’s see the psychology behind this…make your employees feel like nothing more than pencil lead, underpay and overwork them – constantly nag at them to up their bar and then wonder why the whole machine starts to run off the rail, until there is an inevitable crash.

In order to make a corporation viable, in order to make the shareholders do happy dances to their stockbrokers? It is necessary to use common business sense and an I.Q; apparently, if one looks to the global corporate world, you realize common business sense and I.Q’s are very hard to find…

Common sense, common courtesy demands that each person be afforded a sense of individuality along with the support to strive toward a goal, WITH expectation of reward. The carrot is a lot more powerful than the stick and infinitely more powerful than apathy.

The foundation needs to have a voice; this is where the real issues surface, the issues that chip away and break down a business model but hey…actually expect the V.P’s of Personal Hygiene Product Purchase to mingle or listen to the great unwashed? Ridiculous notion. Pass the cake.

The business world is changing; the people toiling in the bowels of the buildings have known this for years.

Change can’t afford to be “eased into the boardroom”, not with an expectation of continued financial viability. Change has to be fast, it has to be efficient and it has to be ruthless.

The spare parts in the corner offices need to be shoveled out. A real look at methods and operations has to be done, not by committee who are only interested in prolonging and protecting their own positions but by listening to the workers, by understanding that the corner office job is not necessary due to the tremendous leaps in software development, due to the advances in communication methods at a minimal cost.

Watch for more crumbling structures, particularly in the retail but not exclusively; you’ll see it happen in all the sectors – as long as the corporate world believes a pyramid is best constructed upside down, with the top expenditures heavier than the support on the bottom tier? Our fiscal future is in a very precarious position, with no real light ahead as the boardroom denizens try to protect their own hides at the expense of those who truly pay their salaries…their employees.

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