ASIDEGlad I finally got this picture to show up. Scrunchy says rest in peace to Steve Irwin. He loved the Crocodile Hunter show. Steve was an odd guy, but loved his life and his family. He did a lot of good.
Someone who did not say who they were (funny how people with criticisms don’t sign their names, isn’t it?) asked
“Nice to see your comments. For a number of years, I wondered why you supported the crap going on...until the axe fell a little closer to home...”
Ow. But, worth responding to. For those of you wondering why I kept my thoughts to just a few close friends, here are some points to note.
- My feelings and thoughts changed over time. I started looking at new organizational structures and procedures with a very open mind, because I enjoy learning about new ideas and trying new ways of doing things. Mind you, I don’t change how I work willy nilly without seeing if a technique actually works or not, but I like to add new techniques and methods to my management and collaborative repertoire. (For example, I was skeptical about the Open Space meeting technique, but I tried it, and I realized it was a great technique for making certain kinds of decisions and doing certain kinds of work. Is it for every meeting? No. But it is in my repertoire now.)
- I made sure I learned as much as I could about things. I went to all the meetings, read all the books I was given, read all the information from people with questions and concerns, etc. I considered all of this stuff. I also included my gut feelings, input from friends and all that. I ended up with a lot to think about! I ended up deciding that I actually liked the ideas, techniques and thoughts that were being introduced, a lot, for my personal life, philosophy and way of working. But, I realized I was uncomfortable with how these things were being used in the organization, and especially with how information was being disseminated.
- It is NOT the case that I “supported the crap going on.” In fact, I voiced thoughts, concerns, criticisms and kudos as appropriate to my bosses, the Board, and my colleagues at work. What I did not do was post my feelings on organizational email lists, Web sites, blogs, or other such places.
- WHY? READ THIS: I was a paid employee of the organization in question. It was my job to represent the policies and decisions of that organization, whether I agreed with them or not. I did my darnedest to work within the framework I was given to continue to help people and fulfill the mission of the organization. I am proud of what I accomplished by “self organizing” with volunteers to create a lot of interesting and helpful programs, focusing on the needs of the population we were supposed to be serving. I did just that until the last day I was allowed to help out. It would have been very inappropriate for me to publicly criticize the organizational structure and the people who paid me. I also would not have been allowed to do what I could from the inside as long as I was allowed to if I had acted that way. I was disliked enough for daring to “criticize” the Board in private.
- I also stuck with the organization and remained quiet after being treated very shabbily on more than one occasion. Did you all know that I was forbidden to utter a series of 6 letters at one point? Or that I was banned from attending a meeting where the decision about a program I had been working on for years was made? And forbidden from providing information that might have helped those in charge make an informed decision? So, don’t think I was sitting around being a “yes person.” I tried to be reasonable, supportive and helpful, but did present alternative points of view and ideas. All the time my focus was on what would be best for the members of the organization and the people they helped. I guess it should have been on appeasing those who make decisions. I have learned my lesson, though. I am currently saying, “Yes ma’am,” like crazy in my new high paying corporate job.
- And did you know I am a single parent who is the main wage earner in my family? Without me working, my children would lose food and housing, or I’d lose THEM to their dad. I appreciated having a job where I could work from home and be with my children when they needed me. The flexibility of my job (at least until 2005 when I had to spend WAY too much time traveling and missed a LOT of my kids’ activities) was something I appreciated—I didn’t want to have to go get some corporate gig just so I could make comments about organizational issues freely.
- I still believe that the organization’s visionaries (i.e., those with money and power) can and will do what they think best, and they are entitled to do it. They got put in charge in various ways, and they ARE the people entrusted to make decisions. If you want to be a part of the organization, you need to trust them and go along with the new things, or retreat to your local level and focus on the mission (saying lalalalala to the larger organization). If folks don’t like how an organization they are a member of works, they need to either REALLY get moving to do something about it (too late, I think), or find something fulfilling and not frustrating to do. Start a new organization that you ARE comfortable with whose members have a say in how things are run. Find an existing organization and put your energy into it (I think some of my friends are going to do that—you go, gals!).
Anyway, anonymous person, I am not someone who went along with things until they affected me personally, and it hurts to think that is how some of you view me. If you knew me well, you’d know that, but I realize not everyone could know me well, since I had to put on my public face a lot. I hope this clears things up, because I would really like to get back to talking about my friends, family and knitting. I am thankful that all the organizational stuff is behind me and I am still intact, just minus some people I thought were lifelong friends—that is my only regret at this point.
Awww, to the Scrunchy picture.
Now to the meatier stuff...I've known Sue Ann for practically all the years she has worked for HFE. I would say she has had that axe swing towards her several times. Not only that, but practically every enhancement to HFE she implemented (at user and admin request) came with a whole lot of barbs being slung at her. I am AMAZED that she stuck with the work and hasn't been permanently debilitated by the stress of it. I can also understand why she chose to do what she described in the blog blog post. Even minimally decent paying IT management related jobs for women are still pretty rare. IT related jobs that let women have flexible hours and family time are even more rare. IT related jobs that also feed your passion? I would have made the same decisions she did to keep such a position. Which brings up the organization itself.
Despite having training for communications skills (for which I was a facilitator) there seems to be a lot of theory and not so much application of those skills by certain people in the organization. I personally have experienced favoritism, threats and just plain ignoring of those whose ideas don't "fit." And who doesn't "fit" can change, too. This organization recently pressured a long-time volunteer to retire for posting information that might be embarrassing to them on a blog! I knew and I'm sure Sue Ann knew what would have happened had she gone public with her thoughts as they evolved. She did the best she could with the information she had and built a kick-butt web presence for a cut-rate price in an increasingly tense environment. And in the end, it still ended up like this. I try to remember all the people she reached with her work and the community she built for all of us who worked with her and the good that came from that. A lot of those people who also built great projects, are also getting their work axed, without explanation.
Good luck in your new work world, Sue Ann. You deserve the best.
Monday, September 04, 2006 2:37:00 PM
Sue Ann, well said. Just because we earn a paycheck from a company does not mean we support everything that company does. If we want to keep our jobs we don't smear the company to the outside. We might take a stand on the inside and get shot down but we are still not free to discuss it if we want to keep our jobs. I think some people just can not see what it is like to work in the corporate world. You sometimes have to do a lot of things that you don't necissary choose to do. And if you can manage to do that without compromising your own moral standards that is all the better. Sometimes however you need to feed your family and house your family will overrule you ideal dream job.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006 11:30:00 PM