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Ah, spring is here, and a young man's thoughts turn to the annual ritual of the performance review.
The cult of evaluation
Social Darwinism predominates, assigning the most stringent performance requirements to everyone and everything: to be weak is to fail. The foundations of our culture are overturned: every humanist premise is disqualified or demonetized because neoliberalism has the monopoly of rationality and realism. Margaret Thatcher said it in 1985: "There is no alternative." Everything else is utopianism, unreason and regression. The virtue of debate and conflicting perspectives are discredited because history is ruled by necessity.
This subculture harbours an existential threat of its own: shortcomings of performance condemn one to disappearance while at the same time everyone is charged with inefficiency and obliged to justify everything. Trust is broken. Evaluation reigns, and with it the bureaucracy which imposes definition and research of a plethora of targets, and indicators with which one must comply. Creativity and the critical spirit are stifled by management. And everyone is beating his breast about the wastage and inertia of which he is guilty.
Manuela Cadelli, The President of Belgian Magistrates
Neoliberalism is a form of Fascism , Aug 30, 2017
Performance review is an interesting and more modern perversion of Tolstoy "War and Peace" -- a novel way of warfare typical for neoliberal corporate jungles. Management almost always winning in those wars. We should view it as a form of neoliberal war of labor, More often then not this is a dirty, and unfair game. Moreover like in many neocolonial wars, the warring parties are grossly unequal in military strength.
In a very fundamental way this is a creature of neoliberal rationality and the term "performance review" is oxymoron. It is anti-performance procedure by definition. One of the goals of neoliberalism is atomization and oppression of workforce. Destroying solidarity by pitting workers against each other. This is a social system that is impliedly "anti_New Deal".
Neoliberalism rejects the idea of the team considering workforce as set of atomized, isolated individuals. And the idea and even a weak in some performance aspects member can be valuable member of the team is anathema to neoliberalism. They are brainwashed by the idea of 'top performers" and Bell curve. Such an idiots they are (please not the the term "idiot" is most applicable to brainwashed adherent of some obscure cult (and neoliberal is one of such cults) and does not deny individual intelligence of such people) So they judge everybody into the same stupid "performance criteria" which in a real large corporate environment are 80% fudged: lies beget lies.
People in Western societies like to talk about democracy, but most of them (especially those who work for government, military or large corporations) spend most of their adult life is a classic authoritarian environment. Which in some ways is as harsh as the life of serfs during Middle Ages.
A medieval cruelty of this system, all those modern gargets and Internet notwithstanding, is pretty evident to any unbiased observer. And with neoliberal stress on performance, such reviews suit the authoritarian instincts of higher level managers very well. And in more ways then one. It also makes revenge of bosses against subordinates a piece of cake. As well as sending people over 50 packing.
During the review two characters -- the boss and the subordinate -- discuss/clash over the history of past events which like any war history is faked and misinterpreted by both sides. Employees write fake facts in their evaluations, bosses either cannot distinguish them from truth or, more often, do not care as they have their own agenda which does not need all those stupid facts (which is often "Bell curve" that need to be fitted in such a way that does not hurt patsies and most productive workers do not leave.)
So normally this is a pretty intricate, perverted dance of two liars. See Why employee performance reviews get bad reviews Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Results are usually prearranged and the subordinate can't change them. It's like a trail with only prosecutor and no judge or jury (which actually very typical of the US judicial system where most case result on plea bargain, the process in which prosecutor exercise almost absolute power).
Problem becomes more acute, if you report to a psychopath or authoritarian manager. that's when performance reviews can become a real horror show reminding Stalin's show trials. As Marx quipped "History repeats ... first as tragedy, then as farce" . In this case this is often just a slightly more modern variant of a procedure pioneered by Catholic inquisition in a form of Auto-da-fé and this is the problem to which this page is devoted.
|Jurgis had come there, and thought he was going to make himself useful, and rise and become a skilled
man, but he would soon find out his error—-for nobody rose in Packingtown by doing good work. You could lay that down
for a rule — if you met a man who was rising in Packingtown, you met a knave.
That man who had been sent to Jurgis’s father by the boss, he would rise; the man who told tales and spied upon his fellows would rise; but the man who minded his own business and did his work —- why, they would “speed him up” till they had worn him out, and then they would throw him into the gutter.
▬ Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
Theoretically hiring better people pays for itself, and once the company get them, it’s worth to take some efforts to keep them. And it worth to keep them happy. But reality is quite different. It is important to understand that due to outsourcing, which is rampant under neoliberalism as a way to enforce labor arbitrage, most companies stopped paying IT personnel wages and benefits to protect key people from bolting; rather they now pay on the level that permits to attract adequate replacement. You should keep in mind this small but important change if you ever decided to complain about your salary.
That means that in the current situation we will not exaggerate much if we adopt a working hypothesis that most IT organizations do not give a rat’s ass about IT employees. Of course, it's a two way street and it is fair to say that many employees also do not give much for the company interests. Or just can't do because of technical or other incompetence.
But all-in-all it looks to me that that in IT environment, employees are usually much more “loyal” to fellow employees and the company than their employer is to them. humans need a sense of belonging for psychological well-being. Alienation is a painful socio-psychological condition. the net result often is a one sided a non-shared love story ;-)
Most IT organizations do not give a rat’s ass about IT employees. Under neoliberalism the rule is that they usually can hire a similar person on a similar level of competence for the same money, if a particular person leave. Or less money by changing the position to outsourced or offshore labor. They are typically not that afraid of being burned before some major, very costly mishap. Employees positions are designed to interchangeable and keeping them this way is the major task of HR departments.
We will concentrate on a rather common case when one of the characters and the one that does the review ( your boss ) is a corporate psychopath. Corporate psychopaths -- defined as those who try to achieve their goals unburdened by conscience, or those who “callously and remorselessly use other for their own ends” are common type of bosses in corporate environment. Few borderline cases when your boss is not a sociopath, but behaves almost like he is, are often cases where you report to an autocratic manager :-). The latter is usually quintessential bully and "kiss up, kick down" guy.
They are not afraid to wave negative performance review as a sword over their direct reports heads.
Some researchers claims that approximately 1% of the adult working population are workplace psychopaths. If you think about it, it's more then enough to fill management ranks of all major corporations. So the first thing to understand is that your situation is not unique.
In any company not matter whether large or small lurks psychopathic bosses lying, cheating, manipulating, victimizing and destroying direct reports -- all without any guilt or remorse. Paradoxically the percentage of female psychopaths among female managers is higher than male psychopaths among male managers. Also female psychopaths are more vicious and Machiavellian. They also greatly benefit from testosterone charged corporate brass in their 50th with babe-magnet fantasies. Sex for them is a weapon and if they are attractive this is a pretty powerful weapon. Christopher Byron published a book called 'Testosterone Inc.: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild' in 2004 which might be an interesting reading...
According to Dr. Martha Stout in her book 'The Sociopath Next Door', a person who has no conscience can instantly recognize someone who is decent and trusting and they tend to access our strengths and weaknesses more objectively that we can ourselves. Sociopaths are predators who have the uncanny ability to spot kind and caring people, people who are vulnerable. And everyone has vulnerabilities. Some experts believe that sociopaths target individuals who have morals and integrity because the sociopath is amoral and lacks integrity.
If this hypothesis is true then s/he will then enjoy trying to destroy the morals and integrity of his target and performance review presents a unique opportunities in this regard.
|Remember that a corporate psychopath did performance review of the victims many times and s/he is highly trained
in this marital art.
Your best chance of presenting coherent counter-arguments (not that they matter much) depends on ability to slow down the action and to delay your response.
If "findings" are really ridiculous, ask for examples. Also all findings should not be a news to you and should be communicated beforehand during the year. If they are and have effect of suddenly exploded bomb, you always can point out that this is an unexpected findings which was not previously communicated to you to take corrective actions, and you need time to think about them.
Actually the process of decimating employee self-esteem with false accusations in the performance review is an interesting battle to watch from the sidelines, but it's extremely humiliating to experience. And the main danger here is not that you can be fired, but that you can get into depression. Please do not take performance review too seriously. This is just the game neoliberal corporations play. They are crazy about quantification of everything and destroy both the company and employee lives in the process.
Actually the performance review is not a review at all. In reality you are presented with a verdict of an illegitimate court that consist of a psychopath herself/himself and might be some supporting cronies or his bosses. See Mini-Microsoft: FAQ on reviews, promotions, job changes, and ... The real battle you need to fight is more about how to avoid or minimize psychological damage and that's where you should concentrate maximum efforts. Repudiations of false accusations typically will not get you too far, but you should avoid being a sacrificial lamp as well. So the most ridiculous aspects need to be pointed out just to keel the attacker in check.
The performance review is not a review, but a verdict of an illegitimate court.
Bad, un-objective performance review hit hardest workaholics. They have too much emphasis on work accomplishments and prace work high in the set of life priorities. Such a dedication badly backfires in this case.
And a lot of programmers are workaholics. In this case the key issue is not bad performance review itself (they usually don't kick out really productive workers despite bad reviews) it is restoring life balance or, at least, balancing the programming work you do for the corporation with you independent contribution to community, be it a personal website, open source program, support of some project that is close to your heart or something else. It is stupid to put all eggs into one basket.
For programmers creation of a personal web site and/or participation in open source movement (you should probably use pseudonym, as using real name might lead to some complications) are natural things to do. But in no way try to steal any code from the employer even if this is derivative of open source. Read about Aleynikov case. Why this was mainly about greed, there is a warning flag about reusing company modified open source code.
I think that in case of programmers and system administrators switching your efforts to participation in some open source project might bring more life satisfaction and help to distract from happening at work even the most hopeless workaholic. It also helps to "lie low" on the work, which is the key for survival in many bureaucratized corporate IT environments.
The first thing to understand is that there is not much to discuss during the performance review: things are already prearranged and you will get what the manager planned to give for you this year. In case of authoritarian manager, or any types of psychopath (especially bully or micromanager) performance reviews are usually used to settle personal scores. If you are not a patsy, you is a target no matter of your real performance. There are always several vague dimensions where you can be marked down.: "teamwork" and "communication skills" are two favorite for corporate psychopath. Also please understand that your opponent is a skilled sadist in a sense that they have no real feelings or even enjoy seeing your pain. Becoming emotional you only hurt yourself by getting closer to a stroke or other serious disease inflicted by stress.
Cold, icy negative politeness with them is the only viable counter-play.
If you’re prepared to the review and have all the facts in hands then you can take it easy as you will know with high probability what accusations will surface and you can refute the most blatant lies and exaggerations. That brings only moral satisfaction because they will get into your personnel file anyway. But your need to avoid excessive confrontation, especially confrontation after review (big and common mistake) due to the anger trap. Also never try to refute things that sound true or those where you have no facts in hands.
|Avoid Anger trap. Confronting psychopath is useless -- they are people without
remorse. By further aliening psychopath you might win nothing, but lose some period of time when s/he leave you alone.
Typically this also provoke his complain to the HP about your behavior (remember they are ruthless SOBs) which might further complicate your situation and distract you from searching better job...
Behave respectfully but at the same time after the review try to kick it out by considering it a Kabuki theater, which it actually was. The play ended, forget about it.
If you are working for a corporate psychopath you by definition need to endure evaluation from someone who is incompetent, unreliable and is, in very literate meaning of this word, cruel sadist. They just enjoy doing those things. And believe me they do prepare. If you understand this, then you understand the most hard part of this role of the victim is not to play to sadist instincts. Actually polite ignorance will hurt them much more that any emotions on your part. They tried to foresee and play on your emotions but they can do nothing with respectable, disinterested politeness. It often help to assume that they guy which two of you are discussing is a third person. That actually can create funny, unanticipated twists in the review. I often enjoyed playing this role and I can tell you that when you play it the first time manager jaw drops and all his carefully designed plan suddenly becomes useless. Remarks like "What an insensitive person this Mr. Bezroukov is " addressed to manager who accuses you of being not a good team player (which means spineless corporate serf in their jargon) something produces funny effects.
|If your supervisor suggests that you're not a "team-player", it means he is after you. And that you'll
probably be sent on team-bonding courses and be press-ganged into socializing with career-driven morons.
Learn about the nature of corporate psychopath. Attempts to classify it among several known types while unscientific gives you some insights that help to prepare and withstand pressure. Knowledge is power. This site can be a starting point but reading a couple of books will not hurt.
Reading special literature will help you in many ways. For ordinary, "normal" person it is very difficult to understand that corporate psychopaths have no compassion; they really treat humans like objects, disposable tools for achieving particular goal. And this nonsense with false accusations in your review and possible petty vendetta (especially characteristic for women psychopaths) is just a smoke screen. What they are trying to achieve complete domination over you as individual. Escaping this trap is the best preparation you can get ;-). So activating your job search skills is a must. It also will give you some additional confidence as you will have some sense of what job market is currently and what hit, if any you need to take to move to other, supposedly better place.
But reading humor and satire literature actually prepare you to the interview in its own way: you learn not to overreact. Absurdity of the cubicle world as depicted for example in Cubes and Punishment. This is a relatively old Dilbert book (2007) and used copies can be bought for a couple of dollars, but it serves as a really powerful immunization to the humiliating experience that you need to endure. I highly recommend to you to read it the night before. Usually effect is pretty strong and it definitely helps not punch the face of the guy :-). Onion is great too.
|Reading humor and satire literature actually prepare you to the interview in its own way: you learn not to overreact. Absurdity of the cubicle world as depicted for example in Cubes and Punishment. This is a relatively old Dilbert book (2007) and used copies can be bought for a couple of dollars, but it serves as a really powerful immunization to the humiliating experience that you need to endure. I highly recommend to you to read it the night before.|
Unless you are high performer, the negative performance review is a sign of things to come and the general corporate rule is "two bad reviews and you are out". You can and probably should preempt them.
In this case instead of the knife that will be sitting in your back all they have to attack is empty cubicle. If you are in your current position for less then three years the corporation will also lose money, which is also nice. Not that psychopathic boss care, but at least this fact can give you small moral satisfaction. If you understood the situation after the first interview and the last year or two can spend most of your time on self-education as recommended below, losses of the company are higher.
In view of this "two bad reviews and you are out" rule you need to understand that the appeasement of corporate psychopath after the first review probably will not fix your problems. The only realistic way to solve this problem is either moving to a different department, or leaving the company. So along with researching literature about psychopathic bosses and putting the jerk into one of existing categories, the key part of preparation is starting your job search. As simple as it is.
There are another minor thing that you can prepare. By corporate rules the boss should obey "no news" rule during this intricate corporate tango. And you can catch him/her on technicalities. Requesting paperwork with warnings and dates of the meeting when he warned you about particular problem can serve as cold shower for too enthusiastic jerks.
Again the rule of this corporate game is that he can only discuss negative issues threat were discussed during the year; if he violate this rule you can catch him on technicality). If you wanted to be sadistic , the nest review you can complain that he did not provide you a training for improving your teamwork and ignored mentoring ;-). It's better do this this if you already found the position to move. I don't recommend it if you are unsure, as you can get the boss as a personal trainer and instead to driving somewhat for two three days to some moronic management course you will have local torture chamber ready for you.
Remember, your boss has the ultimate responsibility to adhere to the rules and you can complain to HR that he violates rules of the game.
You should never expect that your feedback or attempts to explain thing can change a corporate psychopath. It is difficult to comprehend but that are really alien creatures, quite different from normal people. So don't follow silly recommendations often published in "pro-management" literature. In reality your preparedness and knowledge of the facts matter only as a way to ensure that you can avoid any spontaneous, emotional responses on the scene.
Along with putting real efforts into job search you need to learn the system. Every firm has its idiosyncrasies. Sometimes you can play them against the corporate psychopath you report to. Given opportunity you can even try to indirectly communicate some problems to his/her piers as psychopaths usually present extremely nice personality to their bosses. That's dangerous game and unless the opportunity resents to do it with minimal risk. Run by third parties Web questionnaires is one such opportunity, if they allow anonymous responses. Think twice about going this way and don't do it from your workstation if it has static IP.
Don't get into a trap of the boss asking for an "open" or "frank" discussion. You are separated in the ladder and such request during performance review is strictly prohibited and a very dirty trick. Use your emotional intelligence: forget about an "open" discussion with a corporate psychopath.
The situation is not that different from the hostage taking situation when a criminal took you as a hostage and now wants frankly discuss with you his personality. Deflect all attempts to move this discussion from boring standard corporate way. Use, overuse, super-abuse corporate jargon. It exist for those situations. You should feel confident in your professional performance and understand that the review will never change the way you are perceived in the company.
|You should feel confident in your professional performance and understand that the review will never change the way you are perceived in the company. humans are social aminals and compatioon is an importnat triat that helped them to survive adversities. Who will fight for financial oligarchs in the USA when the need arise ? Everybody hates them...|
As interaction with you proceeds, the psychopath carefully assesses your persona. Your persona gives the psychopath a picture of the traits and characteristics you value in yourself. Your persona may also reveal, to an astute observer, insecurities or weaknesses you wish to minimize or hide from view. As an ardent student of human behavior, the psychopath will then gently test the inner strengths and needs that are part of your private or professional self that can be exploited. Remember that personality that the psychopaths are consummate, professional, compulsive liars. Personality that he/she can project during the interview is just a mask. They actually do not have a personality. Among those messages that serve as a alarm tat he/she tries to lure you into a trap are:
Please remember that performance review is the third art and final act of annual performance of a drama (or Kabuki theater) which can be called "You as a hostage of corporate psychopath" . In you stoically take the blows and move on you are guaranteed approximately three months of slow action breathing space (the first act of most plays is usually slow and lack intensity and tragism of the third; the same is true for corporate life after the performance review :-). If you blow you cap off you might not be an actor and spectator of the next performances. Which in a way is a pity if you survived that long :-). Again it is better to move on then to confront the psychopath of authoritarian personality (reading Jack London's Sea Wolf can prepare you for the encounter the authoritarian. "only the strongest survive" type of manager quite nicely ;-)
Sociopaths will lie and cheat to deceive for money, power, control and sex. Those three items are the currency they understand. Nothing else. And their method to achieve those goal is blatant, never ending lies. They are expert and they are not afraid of being exposed. They just seldom stick around after their lies exposed; instead, they move on to a new neighborhood or city. The lying and deception, the manipulation and conning are pervasive and is their true nature, as strange as it is sounds. In a way they do not have real personality. They just act pretending to be they person they are not. Anger tempt us to retaliate in an attempt to try and "make them understand" how their negative review is affecting you. However, 99% of the time, this is the worst thing that you can do: this person still have considerable power over your current situation and the future.
Never get into retaliation trap and try to expose anything or counterattack during the review. All you can do is to point on facts that contradict provided assessment, but do it in disinterested indirect way. Corporate psychopaths thrive on being difficult and causing tension; they thrive on controversy and revenge is the game in which he/she can outperform anybody else. Why to select the game in which you are weaker. Try to beat them in the area where you are strongly and that's usually tech skills. Any exchange of negative words makes them feel powerful .
"Kill them with ice politeness" is the only way. It deprives them of energy. Polite subtle sarcasm and utter indifference sometimes work too. You can just imagine that it is the third person that is discussed and play this game, addressing yourself with full credentials. Something like: "So you think that this guy, Nikolai Bezroukov is .... How interesting. "
If you can maintain ice negative politeness, it in not uncommon for them to became bored or alarmed, as you defy the expectations, and they may even cut the review short. And if you want revenge channel for your energy -- then try to improve your market value via certification, outside project, working in the community, attending university or other constructive ways. Wasting your energy of trying to reform a psychopath is counterproductive. and corporate environment is usually psychopathic-friendly enough to serve them as a good cover.
If you show that you suffer that provide them important feedback that you are vulnerable and can be manipulated because the manipulation of others in the name of the game that corporate psychopaths are playing all their life (don't take seriously naive advice about confronting in the hope of remaking your pathologically incompetent micromanager (PIMM) or whatever type of corporate psychopath your are working for ;-).
Although not beneficial in all situations, sometimes corporate psychopath, while abusing you, are still looking at the possibility of converting you into an ally and a patsy. Just by trying to pretend being a good listener (and then throwing all this nonsense out of your head), you may be able to better the situation and may be soften some blows.
Systematically ask to explain findings; politely ask manager to provide supporting evidence. That helps to avoid traps and gives you more time to weight your reactions. You can also pretend being positively predisposed to stupid accusations, especially about "bad teamwork". Just don't overplay: it can be (at most) only a single sarcastic counterattack after which you should be again all negative politeness.
If you cannot find a proper answer on the spot, reject the question an inappropriate for performance review.
"lying, deceiving and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths. When caught in a lie or challenged by the truth, they are seldom perplexed or embarrassed - they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so that they appear to be consistent with the lie. The results are a series of contradictory statements and a thoroughly confused listener".
To speed up recovery "survivors" need to understand the methods of humiliation used, the concepts of brainwashing and undue influence. Like waterboarding, bad performance review leaves a psychological scar. It will heal, but you can speed-up healing process by adopting specific set of recovery approaches described below.
There are three important things that you should realize immediately after the interview:
The key two emotions after negative review is anger and compulsive, repeated flashes of review episodes. It looks like your brain falls into the loop and thinks about past situation all the time. There is also a noticeable growth of anxiety and insecurity. Those natural reactions does not do you any good and need to be suppressed. So your key task after the interview is to distract yourself for the next 24-48 hours and take measures that will lessen the stress and help to forget about the event as soon as possible. It is important to avoid anger trap and/or depression trap.
Taking part in regular physical activity can both increase your self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. Make an effort to engage in regular psychical exercise for at least two weeks after the review
The first 24 hours are really difficult because the event tend to be replayed in your head again and again. To block this you should probably go and see a couple of movies or play a shooter game or do something that requires the level of concentration which blocks other thoughts. As for movies, watching Office Space streaming of which is available via Amazon for a couple of bucks is definitely helpful. Here is one Amazon review:
A delightfully funny and heart warming romantic comedy (with emphasis on comedy) which was the first time I saw Ron Livingston acting; he plays Peter Gibbons. He is extremely funny as a somewhat pathetic and alienated office worker (computer programmer) who is used and abused by the computer software company he works for as is his two friends.
After a botches hypnosis session that is supposed to make Peter content with his life as a computer programmer, but instead emboldens him to live his life completely disregarding any consequences regarding his work (like fishing instead of working, sleeping in until 11:00 am then showing up for work for a few hours and then leaving), "consultants" advise him that his two buddies, fellow programmers Michael Botton (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu), two of the best programmers and most senior employees will be fired to save money by outsourcing their programming to India. Peter convinces his two friends help him defraud the company they work for at the rate of few pennies a day using a computer virus designed by David, so that after several years they will have a tidy nest egg in savings.
... ... ....
This rather low budget film I found tastefully funny, relevant to contemporary feelings of alienation and hostility to companies out to make money at the expense of exploiting employees, and full of well written script and interesting and original plot.
I heartily recommend it to film fans of comedy and/or romantic comedy.
The eighth episode of the second season of the American comedy TV series The Office, is called "Performance Review" and is well worth watching. Watching couple of Comedy Central shows is less effective, but is better then nothing.
Vampire films work surprisingly well in this situation and for most people this is probably the only time when you can enjoy them ;-). You can thing about vampires as cinematographic allusion of psychopathic bosses.
And the day after performance review might be the day when you for the first time appreciate this strange genre ;-). In a sense Hollywood does great service to poor IT shmucks who need to endure performance reviews by producing this nonsense.
The Vampire Diaries costs $1.99 per episode on Amazon and are especially funny to watch after performance review. Interview with the Vampire starring Brad Pitt is also not bad and touches similar theme ;-). Good action movies like "Three Days of the Condor", "All the President's Men", The Conformist, Touch of Evil, The Godfather also produces the necessary effect. Alfred Hitchcock films like Vertigo, Shadow of a Doubt and especially Strangers on a Train (which features a psychopath involved with tennis star Granger in "exchange murders." ) are also amazingly effective. SF movies like Bade Runner are OK too.
Nothing important should be handled in office while still in the heat of the moment. Avoid speaking or sharing your emotions with anybody except family members for the first 24 hours.
|The most stupid things are usually done during the first 24-48 hours after the review. Do not discuss your report with your colleagues. If you need to speak to somebody talk to your dog or cat.|
I would like to stress it again: in no case you can afford to discuss your report or your emotions with your colleagues. Like Talleyrand used to say: this is worse then a crime, this is a blunder.
Family members and friends outside work are OK, but be selective. That can only increase your pain and that what they want to inflict on you. If you need somebody to talk to talk to your cat or dog.
|Family members and friends outside work are OK, but be selective. That can only increase your pain and that what they want to inflict on you. If you need somebody to talk to talk to your cat or dog. They would definitely understand your pain and they will keep the information private, which is not guarantied in case of friends and definitely not in case of coworkers.|
The main danger after negative performance review is not the increased chances that you will be fired this or the next year. It is a clinical depression or some borderline state of despair:
Clinical depression (also called major depressive disorder, or sometimes unipolar when compared with bipolar disorder) is a state of intense sadness, melancholia or despair that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual's social functioning and/or activities of daily living. Although a low mood or state of dejection that does not affect functioning is often colloquially referred to as depression, clinical depression is a clinical diagnosis and may be different from the everyday meaning of "being depressed."
Many people identify the feeling of being depressed as "feeling sad for no reason", or "having no motivation to do anything." One suffering from depression may feel tired, sad, irritable, lazy, unmotivated, and apathetic. Clinical depression is generally acknowledged to be more serious than normal depressed feelings. It often leads to constant negative thinking and sometimes substance abuse.
Going to cinema is a nice distraction. Taking vacation day or two a week after and going skiing or playing some intensive competitive game (chess, tennis, etc) or running long distances might also be a good idea.
Dangerous or high endurance sports are great distraction from such experience. Just don't overdo it. In any case "rehabilitation" should be planned and executed. That is as important as keeping polite and disinterested mask during the interview.
Flashbacks and replaying in the memory the event is typical for any traumatic experience.
|The key symptom that you need to fight are constant flashbacks, replaying in memory the event and obsessive thoughts about your behavior during it. Switching activity to, say, preparing for a certification and thinking about passing the exam as a revenge might help.|
There is nothing strange that after negative and unfair performance review some, more sensitive and emotionally unprotected people can experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) . There are three signs of PTSD:
The key symptom that you need to fight are constant flashbacks and obsessive thoughts about the event. Subjecting yourself to the rigor of intensive 4*7 preparation for a certification plus regular twice a day (morning and after work) physical exercises might help.
Also there are some other strategies that can help to soften the blow. One is usage extensive physical exercises for two week period. The second is to switch activity to something challenging and at the same time interesting, the activity that increases your value at the working place. For example, crash preparation to the some useful certification within two-three week period.
|One of the best way to channel your anger and humiliation after the performance review is to channel you efforts to a crash preparation for a certification and taking the certification exam within two or three weeks period after the performance review|
Preparation and obtaining new certification is useful but not enough. At the same time your need critically assess yourself. It takes two for tango and in performance reviews like in Greek tragedy, the same traits that lead the hero to the top ensure his downfall. Psychopaths usually have pretty shrewd understanding of your weaknesses and there is often grain of truth in accusations they make. They exaggerate and overpay but some truth is often present...
Remember that only accusations based on facts can be safely refuted. And a corporate psychopath usually does not give you such a chance. The two favorite tricks: accuse of "bad teamwork" and "poor communications skills". It is very difficult to counter such an accusations because it is sufficiently vague to incorporate the fact that you do not get particularly well with the psychopath him/herself and/or with one of the patsies. Still you can ask psychopath about written warnings that were provided, but it's better do it after updating your resume.
Again I would like to warn that despite all the anger you feel, it's better not get into "revenge trap". Or, redirect revenge into constructive activity. Blowing off a couple of server can give you moral satisfaction but there are changes to be caught :-). There are better ways to channel your anger than diligently change Ethernet card setting to haft duplex on the servers you have root access to ;-)
|The best revenge is working on improve your chances on the job market and getting a new better job. Try to obtain new skills that increase your marketability. This is the most constructive way to get even with a psychopath and the company that employs him/her as a manager.|
Set up the conflict in your head and work through how you’re going to handle it. Know your own limitations and be prepared to uphold your morals and values.
Even if your manager technically is as dumb as a polished tabletop negative performance review leaves some scars on your self-esteem and it diminished your self-confidence. While some critique can be healthy what you need to endure in the hands of a psychopathic manager is a huge overdose. So you task is not to allow it to undermine your self-confidence and don’t allow them to get under your skin. Otherwise you experience the process that is usually called demoralization (Demoralization its phenomenology and importance)
Demoralization, as described by Jerome Frank, is experienced as a persistent inability to cope, together with associated feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, meaninglessness, subjective incompetence and diminished self-esteem. It is arguably the main reason people seek psychiatric treatment, yet is a concept largely ignored in psychiatry.
...Demoralization has been commonly observed in the medically and psychiatrically ill and is experienced as existential despair, hopelessness, helplessness, and loss of meaning and purpose in life. ... Hopelessness, the hallmark of demoralization, is associated with poor outcomes in physical and psychiatric illness, and importantly, with suicidal ideation and the wish to die.
Recognize that the problem are his problem not so much yours. It is important to avoid snowballing negative emotions. But in order to achieve that the person should have a goal, what is sometimes called "will to live" (Viktor Frankl):
Viktor Frankl’s theory and therapy grew out of his experiences in Nazi death camps. Watching who did and did not survive (given an opportunity to survive!), he concluded that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had it right: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. " (Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted in 1963, p. 121) He saw that people who had hopes of being reunited with loved ones, or who had projects they felt a need to complete, or who had great faith, tended to have better chances than those who had lost all hope.
...Frankl says we should pay attention to noödynamics, wherein tension is necessary for health, at least when it comes to meaning. People desire the tension involved in striving for some worthy goal!
... ... ...
One of his favorite metaphors is the existential vacuum. If meaning is what we desire, then meaninglessness is a hole, an emptiness, in our lives. Whenever you have a vacuum, of course, things rush in to fill it. Frankl suggests that one of the most conspicuous signs of existential vacuum in our society is boredom. He points out how often people, when they finally have the time to do what they want, don’t seem to want to do anything! People go into a tailspin when they retire; students get drunk every weekend; we submerge ourselves in passive entertainment every evening. The "Sunday neurosis," he calls it.
Personal courage is an important factor in maintaining high morale and therefore plays a critical role in fighting demoralization. Don't be afraid of them. They sucks and should not represent dominant part of your social sphere. Attempt to increase you interactions outside work, including professional interactions. Switch your energy to some worthy goal, be it religious goal, or doing something to the loved one or, more typical for programmers, participation in some worthy project or even launching you own project is very important form to maintain your own self-worth when it is attacked in the office environment. It really helps to switch from analyzing and reanalyzing your interactions and to becoming overly frightened and defensive to something constructive. Write a self-help article on your Web site. Write some open source script and distribute it for free. Or as recommended above prepare to certification and schedule exam in one month exactly to cut your ways to retreat ;-). There is an instant wave of positive appreciation from doing something in your local library, like Linux "installfest" or virus removal workshop.
The strong, lasting desire of revenge is a typical consequence of the severe blows to self-confidence/self-esteem. In ancient time people called the opponent to duel. Now life is different and such drastic measure of defending one's self-esteem are no longer used ;-). As for duels, they were a nice and probably can diminish ranks of psychopaths with some efficiency, but with all due respect IT dwellers like of the office dwellers don't belong to gentile strata. You are a corporate slave, or at lest some kind of modern indentured servant :-). So while you can do nothing with anger, it's better to forget about revenge and redirect your energy to some community related efforts.
Striving for a worthy goal it much better that concentrating your energy on accomplishing some form of revenge and should be pursued first ;-). It's better to try to make some lemonade from the lemon, then to try to get even. First of all, understand that the company the employs such a manager definitely does not deserve much loyalty. Redirecting some time toward some community project is, in a way, a form of revenge. Removing your support from some activities that were never appreciated is just a right thing to do.
Also you need to understand that this was a one time encounter (at least for this year :-) and that your psychopathic friend just cannot put pressure on you all the time. This is dangerous and psychopaths have an acute sense of danger. After inflicting damage they usually back off, so your work situation might even temporary improve and you can become more focused on the actual work and improving your competencies.
Never try to blackmail the boss as a revenge. Such people have patsies and they might get the information. After that they will spring into the action. You just don't need that. Again doing something constructive, for example for some open source project or getting some certification is much better revenge then nasty words addressed to a corporate psychopath who happened to be your boss; they will have no any effect on him anyway and can hurt you.
Summarizing you should not feel “victimized” by circumstances, and by the absence of support from others. You should mobilize all your courage to resist and find the other way to prove your self-worth then inside the corporate environment. By doing that you instantly stop viewing yourself as a “victim” and start viewing yourself as a “survivor” In short, the construction of a new narrative helps to refashion your live. Any success will increase your self-worth and thus increase beliefs in yourself and the world.
I became convinced that noncooperation with evil
is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.
Here are some ideas that are not well integrated into the main body of the article, but which I consider important.
It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.
The Peter Principle states that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous  treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of hierarchiology."
The Dilbert Principle is a derivative of Peter Principle and states that "...the incompetent workers are promoted directly to management without ever passing through the temporary competence stage." Generally Scott Adams writing is pretty weak, but some cartoons are great. For example a good start would be:
The Old Philosopher (WA USA)The best get better, April 18, 2005
It was beginning to look like Scott Adams would run out of material for Dilbert, but the corporate world just keeps spinning. Words.. is a new high level in corporate mayhem. From Dogbert the headhunter to the genius garbage man and of course Catbert the evil HR manager they are all here. We learn that "plundered" is now called "enhanced stock holder values." The pointy hair boss gets a body double for safety, and Dilbert invents a robot clone to double his visibility.
It's another swipe at office management and the minions who toil our lives away in cubicles. ...
magellan (Santa Clara, CA) Another funny Dilbert book, March 5, 2004
This is another very funny and spot-on book from Adams. Some of the characters like Ratbert and Dogbert don't appear as much, but Wally comes on strong and new characters are introduced like ConsulTick. What's funny is the resonant note that Dilbert has struck with so much of corporate America. Having been an employee at a major Fortune 500 company for many years myself, I was convinced that Adams was talking about my company, and so did everyone else, although the resemblances at times could be almost eerie.
Adams's cartoons of the more absurd and ridiculous aspects of corporate culture (which at times seems to be about 99% of it) continue to provide much needed comic relief for hapless cubicle dwellers everywhere, and this is another funny book from Adams that shouldn't disappoint his fans.
Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov
Nov 03, 2018 | www.rako.com
In an advanced research or development project, success or failure is largely determined when the goals or objectives are set and before a manager is chosen. While a hard-working and diligent manager can increase the chances of success, the outcome of the project is most strongly affected by preexisting but unknown technological factors over which the project manager has no control. The success or failure of the project should not, therefore, be used as the sole measure or even the primary measure of the manager's competence.
Putt's Law Is promulgated
Without an adequate competence criterion for technical managers, there is no way to determine when a person has reached his level of incompetence. Thus a clever and ambitious individual may be promoted from one level of incompetence to another. He will ultimately perform incompetently in the highest level of the hierarchy just as he did in numerous lower levels. The lack of an adequate competence criterion combined with the frequent practice of creative incompetence in technical hierarchies results in a competence inversion, with the most competent people remaining near the bottom while persons of lesser talent rise to the top. It also provides the basis for Putt's Law, which can be stated in an intuitive and nonmathematical form as follows:Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
As in any other hierarchy, the majority of persons in technology neither understand nor manage much of anything. This, however, does not create an exception to Putt's Law, because such persons clearly do not dominate the hierarchy. While this was not previously stated as a basic law, it is clear that the success of every technocrat depends on his ability to deal with and benefit from the consequences of Putt's Law.
Nov 03, 2018 | www.zdnet.com
Gravyboat McGee , Wednesday, April 26, 2017 9:00 PMFour years in GTS ... joined via being outsourced to IBM by my previous employer. Left GTS after 4 years.
The IBM way of life was throughout the Oughts and the Teens an utter and complete failure from the perspective of getting work done right and using people to their appropriate and full potential. I went from a multi-disciplinary team of engineers working across technologies to support corporate needs in the IT environment to being siloed into a single-function organization.
My first year of on-boarding with IBM was spent deconstructing application integration and cross-organizational structures of support and interwork that I had spent 6 years building and maintaining. Handing off different chunks of work (again, before the outsourcing, an Enterprise solution supported by one multi-disciplinary team) to different IBM GTS work silos that had no physical special relationship and no interworking history or habits. What we're talking about here is the notion of "left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing" ...
THAT was the IBM way of doing things, and nothing I've read about them over the past decade or so tells me it has changed.
As a GTS employee, professional technical training was deemed unnecessary, hence I had no access to any unless I paid for it myself and used my personal time ... the only training available was cheesy presentations or other web based garbage from the intranet, or casual / OJT style meetings with other staff who were NOT professional or expert trainers.
As a GTS employee, I had NO access to the expert and professional tools that IBM fricking made and sold to the same damn customers I was supposed to be supporting. Did we have expert and professional workflow / document management / ITIL aligned incident and problem management tools? NO, we had fricking Lotus Notes and email. Instead of upgrading to the newest and best software solutions for data center / IT management & support, we degraded everything down the simplest and least complex single function tools that no "best practices" organization on Earth would ever consider using.
And the people management paradigm ... employees ranked annually not against a static or shared goal or metric, but in relation to each other, and there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" required by upper management ... a system that was sociopathic in it's nature because it encourages employees to NOT work together ... by screwing over one's coworkers, perhaps by not giving necessary information, timely support, assistance as needed or requested, one could potentially hurt their performance and make oneself look relatively better. That's a self-defeating system and it was encouraged by the way IBM ran things.
The "not invented here" ideology was embedded deeply in the souls of all senior IBMers I ever met or worked with ... if you come on board with any outside knowledge or experience, you must not dare to say "this way works better" because you'd be shut down before you could blink. The phrase "best practices" to them means "the way we've always done it".
IBM gave up on innovation long ago. Since the 90's the vast majority of their software has been bought, not built. Buy a small company, strip out the innovation, slap an IBM label on it, sell it as the next coming of Jesus even though they refuse to expend any R&D to push the product to the next level ... damn near everything IBM sold was gentrified, never cutting edge.
And don't get me started on sales practices ... tell the customer how product XYZ is a guaranteed moonshot, they'll be living on lunar real estate in no time at all, and after all the contracts are signed hand the customer a box of nuts & bolts and a letter telling them where they can look up instructions on how to build their own moon rocket. Or for XX dollars more a year, hire a Professional Services IBMer to build it for them.
I have no sympathy for IBM. They need a clean sweep throughout upper management, especially any of the old True Blue hard-core IBMers.
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
When it comes to employment claims, studies have found that arbitrators overwhelmingly favor employers. Research by Cornell University law and labor relations specialist Alexander Colvin found that workers win only 19 percent of the time when their cases are arbitrated. By contrast, they win 36 percent of the time when they go to federal court, and 57 percent in state courts. Average payouts when an employee wins follow a similar pattern.
Given those odds, and having signed away their rights to go to court, some laid-off IBM workers have chosen the one independent forum companies can't deny them: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That's where Moos, the Long Beach systems security specialist, and several of her colleagues, turned for help when they were laid off. In their complaints to the agency, they said they'd suffered age discrimination because of the company's effort to "drastically change the IBM employee age mix to be seen as a startup."
In its formal reply to the EEOC, IBM said that age couldn't have been a factor in their dismissals. Among the reasons it cited: The managers who decided on the layoffs were in their 40s and therefore older too.
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
Cindy Gallop , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:24 AMThis makes for absolutely horrifying, chills-down-your-spine reading. A modern corporate horror story - worthy of a 'Black Mirror' episode. Phenomenal reporting by Ariana Tobin and Peter Gosselin. Thank you for exposing this. I hope this puts an end to this at IBM and makes every other company and industry doing this in covert and illegal ways think twice about continuing.Daisy S Cindy Gallop , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to"> •Agree..a well written expose'. I've been a victim of IBM's "PIP" (Performance Improvement Plan) strategy, not because of my real performance mind you, but rather, I wasn't billing hours between projects and it was hurting my unit's bottom line. The way IBM instructs management to structure the PIP, it's almost impossible to dig your way out, and it's intentional. If you have a PIP on your record, nobody in IBM wants to touch you, so in effect you're already gone.Paul Brinker Daisy S , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to"> •I see the PIP problem as its nearly impossible to take the fact that we know PIP is a scam to court. IBM will say its an issue with you, your performance nose dived and your manager tried to fix that. You have to not only fight those simple statements, but prove that PIP is actually systematic worker abuse.dragonflap Cindy Gallop , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to"> •Cindy, they've been doing this for at least 15-20 years, or even longer according to some of the previous comments. It is in fact a modern corporate horror story; it's also life at a modern corporation, period.Maria Stone dragonflap , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to"> •This started happening in the 1990's when they added 5 years to your age and years of service and ASKED you to retire.Matt_Z , Thursday, March 22, 2018 6:01 PMAfter over 35 years working there, 19 of them as a manager sending out more of those notification letters than I care to remember, I can vouch for the accuracy of this investigative work. It's an incredibly toxic and hostile environment and has been for the last 5 or so years. One of the items I was appraised on annually was how many US jobs I moved offshore. It was a relief when I received my notification letter after a two minute phone call telling me it was on the way. Sleeping at night and looking myself in the mirror aren't as hard as they were when I worked there.Jennifer , Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:42 AM
IBM will never regain any semblance of their former glory (or profit) until they begin to treat employees well again.
With all the offshoring and resource actions with no backfill over the last 10 years, so much is broken. Customers suffer almost as much as the employees.
I don't know how in the world they ended up on that LinkedIn list. Based on my fairly recent experience there are a half dozen happy employees in the US, and most of them are C level.Well done. It squares well with my 18 years at IBM, watching resource action after resource action and hearing what my (unusually honest) manager told me. Things got progressively worse from 2012 onward. I never realized how stressful it was to live under the shadow of impending layoffs until I finally found the courage to leave in 2015. Best decision I've made.Herb Jennifer , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to"> •
IBM answers to its shareholders, period. Employees are an afterthought - simply a means to an end. It's shameful. (That's not to say that individual people managers feel that way. I'm speaking about IBM executives.)Well, they almost answer to their shareholders, but that's after the IBM executives take their share. Ginni's compensation is tied to stock price (apparently not earnings) and buy backs maintain the stock price.Ribit , Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:17 AMIf the criteria for layoff is being allegedly overpaid and allegedly a poor performer, then it follows that Grinnin' Jenny should have been let go long ago.Mr. Hand Ribit , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to"> •Yes! After the 4th of those 22 consecutive quarters of declining revenues. And she's no spring chicken either. ;-)DDRLSGC Ribit ,Especially these CEOs who have ran their companies into the ground for the last 38 years.owswitch , Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:58 AMJust another fine example of how people become disposable.DDRLSGC owswitch
And, when it comes to cost containment and profit maximization, there is no place for ethics in American business.
Businesses can lie just as well as politicians.
Millennials are smart to avoid this kind of problem by remaining loyal only to themselves. Companies certainly define anyone as replaceable - even their over-paid CEO's.HiJinks DDRLSGC
The millennials saw what happen to their parents and grandparents getting screwed over after a life time of work and loyalty. You can't blame them for not caring about so called traditional American work ethics and then they are attacked for not having them when the business leaders threw away all those value decades ago.
Some of these IBM people have themselves to blame for cutting their own economic throats for fighting against unions, putting in politicians who are pro-business and thinking that their education and high paying white collar STEM jobs will give them economic immunity.
If America was more of a free market and free enterprise instead of being more of a close market of oligarchies and monopolies, and strong government regulations, companies would think twice about treating their workforce badly because they know their workforce would leave for other companies or start up their own companies without too much of a hassle.DDRLSGC HiJinks
Under the old IBM you could not get a union as workers were treated with dignity and respect - see the 3 core beliefs. Back then a union would not have accomplished anything.Doesn't matter if it was the old IBM or new IBM, you wonder how many still actually voted against their economic interests in the political elections that in the long run undermine labor rights in this country.HiJinks DDRLSGCSo one shouldn't vote? Neither party cares about the average voter except at election time. Both sell out to Big Business - after all, that's where the big campaign donations come from. If you believe only one party favors Big Business, then you have been watching to much "fake news". Even the unions know they have been sold out by both and are wising up. How many of those jobs were shipped overseas the past 25 years.DDRLSGC HiJinks ,No, they should have been more active in voting for politicians who would look after the workers' rights in this country for the last 38 years plus ensuring that Congressional people and the president would not be packing the court system with pro-business judges. Sorry, but it is the Big Business that have been favoring the Republican Party for a long, long time and the jobs have been shipped out for the last 38 years.
Jul 29, 2014 | www.unz.com
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Contemporary baptized, corporatized and sanitized man rarely has the occasion to question his identity, and when he does a typical response might be, "I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Betty, father of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran."
His answers imply not only his beliefs but the many responsibilities, rules and restrictions he is subjected to. Few if any of these were ever negotiated- they were imposed on him yet he still considers himself free.
But is free the right adjective for him, or would modern domesticated simian be more apt? He has been told what to do, believe, think and feel since he can remember. A very clever rancher has bred billions of these creatures around the globe and created the most profitable livestock imaginable. They work for him, fight for him, die for him, believe his wildest tales, laugh at his jokes and rarely get out of line. When domesticated man does break one of the rules there are armies, jailers, psychiatrists and bureaucrats prepared to kill, incarcerate, drug or hound the transgressor into submission.
One of the most fascinating aspects of domesticated man's predicament is that he never looks at the cattle, sheep and pigs who wind up on his plate and make the very simple deduction that he is just a talking version of them, corralled and shepherded through his entire life. How is this accomplished? Only animals that live in hierarchical groups can be dominated by man. The trick is to fool the animal into believing that the leader of the pack or herd is the person who is domesticating them. Once this is accomplished the animal is under full control of its homo sapien master. The domesticated man is no different, originally organized in groups with a clear hierarchy and maximum size of 150- it was easy to replace the leader of these smaller groups with one overarching figure such as God, King, President, CEO etc.
The methodology for creating this exceptionally loyal and obedient modern breed, homo domesticus, can be described as having seven pillars from which an immense matrix captures the talking simians and their conscious minds and hooks them into a complex mesh from which few ever escape. The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can't accept the 'complexity of modern life', i.e. conspiracy nuts.
Plato described this brilliantly in his Allegory of the Cave , where people only see man made shadows of objects, institutions, Gods and ideas:
"–Behold! human beings living in an underground cave here they have been from their childhood necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall "
It began with the word, which forever changed the ability of men to manipulate each other. Before language, every sensation was directly felt through the senses without the filter of words. But somewhere around 50,000 years ago language began to replace reality and the first pieces of code were put in place for the creation of the Matrix. As soon as the words began to flow the world was split, and from that fracturing was born man's angst and slavery. The words separated us from who we really were, creating the first screen onto which the images from Plato's cave were cast. Gurdjieff said it well, "Identifying is the chief obstacle to self-remembering. A man who identifies with anything is unable to remember himself."
It's no accident that in Hesiod's ages of man the Golden Age knew no agriculture, which appeared in the Silver age, and by the time we reach the Bronze age the dominant theme is toil and strife. The two key elements to the enslavement of man were clearly language and agriculture. In the hunter gatherer society, taking out the boss was no more complicated than landing a well placed fastball to the head. Only since the advent of farming was the possibility of creating full time enforcers and propagandists made possible, and hence enslavement inevitable.
The search for enlightenment rarely if ever bears fruits in those temples of words, our schools and universities. Almost all traditions point to isolation and silence as the only paths to awakening; they are the true antidotes to modern slavery. As Aristotle wrote, "Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god."
So from the institution from which we are mercilessly bombarded with words and enslaved to time, we begin our descent through the seven layers of the Matrix.
There are things we are born able to do like eating, laughing and crying and others we pick up without much of an effort such as walking, speaking and fighting, but without strict institutional education there is no way that we can ever become a functioning member of the Matrix. We must be indoctrinated, sent to Matrix boot camp, which of course is school. How else could you take a hunter and turn him into a corporate slave, submissive to clocks, countless bosses, monotony and uniformity?
Children naturally know who they are, they have no existential angst, but schools immediately begin driving home the point of schedules, rules, lists and grades which inevitably lead the students to the concept of who they aren't. We drill the little ones until they learn to count money, tell time, measure progress, stand in line, keep silent and endure submission. They learn they aren't free and they are separated from everyone else and the world itself by a myriad of divides, names and languages.
It can't be stressed enough how much education is simply inculcating people with the clock and the idea of a forced identity. What child when she first goes to school isn't taken back to hear herself referred to by her full name?
It's not as if language itself isn't sufficiently abstract- nothing must be left without a category. Suzy can't just be Suzy- she is a citizen of a country and a state, a member of a religion and a product of a civilization, many of which have flags, mascots, armies, uniforms, currencies and languages. Once all the mascots, tag lines and corporate creeds are learned, then history can begin to be taught. The great epic myths invented and conveniently woven into the archetypes which have come down through the ages cement this matrix into the child's mind.
Even the language that she speaks without effort must be deconstructed for her. An apple will never again be just an apple- it will become a noun, a subject, or an object. Nothing will be left untouched, all must be ripped apart and explained back to the child in Matrixese.
We are taught almost nothing useful during the twelve or so years that we are institutionalized and conditioned for slavery- not how to cook, farm, hunt, build, gather, laugh or play. We are only taught how to live by a clock and conform to institutionalized behaviors that make for solid careers as slaveocrats.
In the countries that claim to be democratic the concept of a government created to serve the people is often espoused. Government, and the laws they create and enforce are institutionalized social control for the benefit of those who have seized power. This has always been the case and always will be. In the pre-democratic era it was much clearer to recognize who had power, but the genius of massive democratic states are the layers upon layers of corporatocracy and special interests which so brilliantly conceal the identify of those who really manage the massive apparatus of control.
The functions of the state are so well ensconced in dogmatic versions of history taught in schools that almost no one questions why we need anything beyond the bare essentials of government to maintain order in the post-industrial age. The history classes never point the finger at the governments themselves as the propagators and instigators of war, genocide, starvation and corruption. In Hollywood's version of history, the one most people absorb, 'good' governments are always portrayed as fighting 'bad' ones. We have yet to see a film where all the people on both sides simply disengage from their governments and ignore the calls to violence.
The state apparatus is based on law, which is a contract between the people and an organism created to administer common necessities- an exchange of sovereignty between the people and the state. This sounds reasonable, but when one looks at the mass slaughters of the 20th century, almost without exception, the perpetrators are the states themselves.
The loss of human freedom is the only birthright offered to the citizens of the modern nation. There is never a choice. It is spun as a freedom and a privilege when it is in fact indentured servitude to the state apparatus and the corporatocracy that controls it.
Patriotism is pure abstraction, a completely artificial mechanism of social control. People are taught to value their compatriots above and beyond those of their own ethnic background, race or religion. The organic bonds are to be shed in favor of the great corporate state. From infancy children are indoctrinated like Pavlov's dogs to worship the paraphernalia of the state and see it as a mystical demigod.
What is a country? Using the United States as example, what actually is this entity? Is it the USPS, the FDA, or the CIA? Does loving one's country mean one should love the IRS and the NSA? Should we feel differently about someone if they are from Vancouver instead of Seattle? Loving a state is the same as loving a corporation, except with the corporations there is still no stigma attached to not showing overt sentimental devotion to their brands and fortunately, at least for the moment, we are not obligated at birth to pay them for a lifetime of services, most of which we neither need nor want.
Flags, the Hollywood version of history and presidential worship are drilled into us to maintain the illusion of the 'other' and force the 'foreigner/terrorist/extremist' to wear the stigma of our projections. The archaic tribal energy that united small bands and helped them to fend off wild beasts and hungry hordes has been converted into a magic wand for the masters of the matrix. Flags are waved, and we respond like hungry Labradors jumping at a juicy prime rib swinging before our noses. Sentimental statist propaganda is simply the mouthguard used to soften the jolt of our collective electroshock therapy.
As powerful as the patriotic sects are, there has always been a need for something higher. Religion comes from the Latin 're-ligare' and it means to reconnect. But reconnect to what? The question before all religions is, what have we been disconnected from? The indoctrination and alienation of becoming a card carrying slave has a cost; the level of abstraction and the disconnect from any semblance of humanity converts people into nihilistic robots. No amount of patriotic fervor can replace having a soul. The flags and history lessons can only give a momentary reprieve to the emptiness of the Matrix and that's why the priests are needed.
The original spiritual connection man had with the universe began to dissolve into duality with the onset of language, and by the time cities and standing armies arrived he was in need of a reconnection, and thus we get our faith based religions. Faith in the religious experiences of sages, or as William James put it, faith in someone else's ability to connect. Of course the liturgies of our mainstream religions offer some solace and connection, but in general they simply provide the glue for the Matrix. A brief perusal of the news will clearly show that their 'God' seems most comfortable amidst the killing fields.
If we focus on the Abrahamic religions, we have a god much like the state, one who needs to be loved. He is also jealous of the other supposedly non-existent gods and is as sociopathic as the governments who adore him. He wipes out his enemies with floods and angels of death just as the governments who pander to him annihilate us with cultural revolutions, atom bombs, television and napalm. Their anthem is, "Love your country, it's flag, its history, and the God who created it all"- an ethos force fed to each new generation.
The sad thing about circus is that it's generally not even entertaining. The slaves are told it's time for some fun and they move in hordes to fill stadiums, clubs, cinemas or simply to stare into their electrical devices believing that they are are being entertained by vulgar propaganda.
As long as homo domesticus goes into the appropriate corral, jumps when she is told to and agrees wholeheartedly that she is having fun, than she is a good slave worthy of her two days off a week and fifteen days vacation at the designated farm where she is milked of any excess gold she might have accumulated during the year. Once she is too old to work and put to pasture, holes are strategically placed in her vicinity so she and her husband can spend their last few dollars trying to get a small white ball into them.
On a daily basis, after the caffeinated maximum effort has been squeezed out of her, she is placed in front of a screen, given the Matrix approved beverage (alcohol), and re-indoctrinated for several hours before starting the whole cycle over again. God forbid anyone ever took a hallucinogen and had an original thought. We are, thankfully, protected from any substances that might actually wake us up and are encouraged stick to the booze. The matrix loves coffee in the morning, alcohol in the evening and never an authentic thought in between.
On a more primal level we are entranced with the contours of the perfect body and dream of 'perfect love', where our days will be filled with soft caresses, sweet words and Hollywood drama. This is maybe the most sublime of the Matrix's snares, as Venus's charms can be so convincing one willingly abandons all for her devious promise. Romantic love is dangled like bait, selling us down the path of sentimentally coated lies and mindless consumerism.
Money is their most brilliant accomplishment. Billions of people spend most of their waking lives either acquiring it or spending it without ever understanding what it actually is. In this hologram of a world, the only thing one can do without money is breath. For almost every other human activity they want currency, from eating and drinking to clothing oneself and finding a partner. Religion came from innate spirituality and patriotism from the tribe, but money they invented themselves- the most fantastic and effective of all their tools of domestication.
They have convinced the slaves that money actually has some intrinsic value, since at some point in the past it actually did. Once they were finally able to disconnect money completely from anything other than their computers, they finally took complete control, locked the last gate and electrified all the fences. They ingeniously print it up out of the nothing and loan it with interest in order for 18-year-olds to spend four years drinking and memorizing propaganda as they begin a financial indebtedness that will most likely never end.
By the time the typical American is thirty the debt is mounted so high that they abandon any hope of ever being free of it and embrace their mortgages, credit cards, student loans and car loans as gifts from a sugar daddy. What they rarely asks themselves is why they must work to make money while banks can simply create it with a few key strokes. If they printed out notes on their HP's and loaned them with interest to their neighbors, they would wind up in a penitentiary, but not our friends on Wall Street- they do just that and wind up pulling the strings in the White House. The genius of the money scam is how obvious it is. When people are told that banks create money out of nothing and are paid interest for it the good folks are left incredulous. "It can't be that simple!" And therein lies the rub- no one wants to believe that they have been enslaved so easily .
"Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology."
– Terence McKenna
As Terence loved to say, "Culture is not your friend." It exists as a buffer to authentic experience. As they created larger and larger communities, they replaced the direct spiritual experience of the shaman with priestly religion. Drum beats and sweat were exchanged for digitized, corporatized noise. Local tales got replaced by Hollywood blockbusters, critical thinking with academic dogma.
If money is the shackles of the matrix, culture is its operating system. Filtered, centralized, incredibly manipulative, it glues all their myths together into one massive narrative of social control from which only the bravest of souls ever try to escape. It's relatively simple to see the manipulation when one looks at patriotism, religion or money. But when taken as a whole, our culture seems as natural and timeless as the air we breathe, so intertwined with our self conception it is often hard to see where we individually finish and our culture begins.
Escaping the Grip of Control
Some might ask why this all-pervasive network of control isn't talked about or discussed by our 'great minds'. Pre-Socratic scholar Peter Kingsley explains it well:
"Everything becomes clear once we accept the fact that scholarship as a whole is not concerned with finding, or even looking for, the truth. That's just a decorative appearance. It's simply concerned with protecting us from truths that might endanger our security; and it does so by perpetuating our collective illusions on a much deeper level than individual scholars are aware of."
Whoever discovered water, it certainly wasn't a fish. To leave the 'water', or Plato's cave takes courage and the knowledge that there is something beyond the web of control. Over 2,300 hundred years ago Plato described the process of leaving the Matrix in the Allegory of the Cave as a slow, excruciating process akin to walking out onto a sunny beach after spending years in a basement watching Kabuki.
How can this awakening be explained? How do you describe the feeling of swimming in the ocean at dusk to someone who has never even seen the sea? You can't, but what you can do is crack open a window for them and if enough windows are opened, the illusion begins to lose its luster.
rod1963 , August 3, 2014 at 12:03 am GMTI'll take Neil Postman, Chesterton or C.S. Lewis over Bonomo any day.Pseudonymic Handle , August 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm GMT
His article merely takes a blowtorch to all and everything and worse showing very little understanding of the things he attacks is cringe worthy. There's no real analysis, no consideration of the ramifications for doing away with the state, community and faith. This is shoddy thinking at best.
And his last part "Escaping the Grip of Control" is just so much gibberish. It's not thought out at all.The weakest part of this piece is that it makes all kinds of suppositions about about the true nature of mankind, that remind me of paleo diet nonsense. Humans evolved constantly so we were selected for domestication. It changed us. We are not the great apes of the savannah, but agriculturalists living in complex societies. This is our true nature and the conflict in our societies is between those who are more domesticated and those who are less domesticated.Bill , August 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm GMTSantoculto , August 4, 2014 at 8:17 pm GMT
"I am product manager for a large retail chain, married to Betty, father of Johnny, a Democrat, Steelers fan and a Lutheran."
His answers imply not only his beliefs but the many responsibilities, rules and restrictions he is subjected to. Few if any of these were ever negotiated- they were imposed on him yet he still considers himself free.To talk about themselves and their superiority as human beings, civilization and biology, we have an average of 50 or more reviews.The Plutonium Kid , August 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm GMT
Have to discuss the illusion of the human ego, 12 comments, some of which were based on" not-so-children's arguments."
This text shows us a little of the biblical allegory of Pandora's box, even though we know that it is based on the sins that are present inside the box. How is a short story, so I can invent upon an invention without a known author, that in fact as we open Pandora's Box, we will not spread hatred for Earth, there is no need to spread what is already widespread, but we will find the truth. And the truth is that we are animals like those we despise. Human culture is an illusion to keep sane people.Oh, well, at least Bonobo–I mean, Bonomo–didn't use the word "sheeple," so I don't have to go ballistic on him. Condescending is much too weak a word to describe this mess. Arrogant and egomaniacal fit much better.Santoculto , August 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm GMT"Oh, well, at least Bonobo–I mean, Bonomo–didn't use the word "sheeple," so I don't have to go ballistic on him. Condescending is much too weak a word to describe this mess. Arrogant and egomaniacal fit much better."Mike , January 15, 2015 at 1:00 am GMT
These "sensitive" people break my heart.
I think Mr. Bonhomme has the right to say whatever you want. Perhaps, the "descriptions" also served to you, what do you think ??It's sadly obvious that most of the negative replies to Mr. Bonomo's article, comes from complete tools.I can see that most, if not all of you tools have been thoroughly educated by sitting in front of your TV's and burping and farting large amount of odorous gases from your beer infused bodies.A friendly bit of advice, remove your collective heads from your asses and get a real life.Stefano , February 3, 2015 at 1:57 pm GMT@Plutonium KidStefano , February 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm GMT
Hahah.. did Bonomo's essay really scare you that much or did it merely strike such a chord of cognitive dissonance that it left you squirming in mental anguish? Lighten up dude!Despite some glaring inaccuracies and over-generalizations, overall the piece is interesting and thought-provoking.Jeff77450 , July 21, 2015 at 5:27 pm GMT
"The system is so advanced that those who do untangle themselves and cut their way out of the net are immediately branded as mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers who can't accept the 'complexity of modern life', i.e. conspiracy nuts."
Perhaps he means someone like a homeless person or pan-handler living on the street. Certainly few if anyone would consider a radical thinker like Noam Chomsky "mentally ill, anti-social, or simply losers".Mr. Bonomo, interesting take on things but ultimately I don't quite agree. Here is the subparagraph of my worldview that addresses the whole free-versus-slave thing: Freedom is in inverse proportion to security. An individual in solitary-confinement in a maximum security prison has 100% security but 0% freedom. At the opposite extreme is the "hermit" living in self-imposed exile with 100% freedom but never entirely sure of when & where his next meal is coming from and if attacked by a predator, human or animal, he is entirely on his own. Between those two extremes there is a reasonable middle-ground.thx1138 , February 11, 2017 at 1:49 am GMT
The hunter-gatherers are (or were) about as free as it is possible to be and each individual not having to live as a hermit – but their lives were, as per Thomas Hobbs, "nasty, brutish and short." I've read that around the time of Christ the average lifespan was 20-22. (That's probably factoring in a lot of infant-mortality).
My life is clean, comfortable, reasonably if not perfectly safe and I'm on-track to live well into my eighties. But I'm a "wage-slave" to a job that I hate, despise and loath and frankly, at home, my wife rules the roost. If I protest too much she could divorce me and take much of what I've worked roughly thirty-four years for so she's got me over a barrel.
Hmmm, my day is ruinedWell, years later I just want to thank you for this essay. It stated more clearly than I could the truth of the world. The only thing missing is the identity of the perpetrators, and many of us know who they are.
May 12, 2018 | www.unz.com
The most heinous thing a human can do is eat another human. Fear of cannibalism along with the other two great taboos, incest and inter-family violence, are the bedrocks of human culture. Without these taboos there is no human civilization, yet zombie cannibals are everywhere, from the most popular TV shows in the US and Europe to the most played PC games. Everywhere we look there is a zombie dragging his feet looking for human prey. The ubiquitous nature of this meme of semi-human creatures that survive only by breaking the most fundamental of human taboos is a clear indicator of a collective cultural pathology.
Humans must not only kill and eat plants and animals to survive, we must make sure they keep coming back so they can be killed and eaten again and again. Life needs death; we must kill to live, and eventually we all wind up as someone else's food. This paradox lies at the core of the world's religions and mythologies and the fear/repulsion of eating other humans is the keystone of our culture, without it we turn on ourselves and self-annihilation ensues. The zombie meme is a modern myth pointing to a deep fear of self-destruction.
The great psychologist and mystic Carl Jung was asked if a myth could be equated to a collective dream and he answered this way, "A myth is the product of an unconscious process in a particular social group, at a particular time, at a particular place. This unconscious process can naturally be equated with a dream. Hence anyone who 'mythologizes,' that is, tells myths, is speaking out of this dream."
If a person had a recurring nightmare that she was eating her family it would be a clear symptom of a profound psychological disturbance. Cultures don't dream, but they do tell stories and those stories can tell us much about the state of the collective psyche.
Many of the themes in our popular culture are conscious story telling devices with the definite purpose of social engineering/control, but others seem to just emerge from the collective unconscious like the stuff of dreams. The zombie meme is clearly of the latter variety. It's pointing to a fear that something has broken in our culture and what awaits us is a collective psychotic break of apocalyptic proportions.
Feb 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Whole Foods' new inventory management system aimed at improving efficiency and cutting down on waste is taking a toll on employees, who say the system's stringent procedures and graded "scorecards" have crushed morale and led to widespread food shortages, reports Business Insider .
The new system, called order-to-shelf, or OTS, "has a strict set of procedures for purchasing, displaying, and storing products on store shelves and in back rooms. To make sure stores comply, Whole Foods relies on "scorecards" that evaluate everything from the accuracy of signage to the proper recording of theft, or "shrink."
Some employees, who walk through stores with managers to ensure compliance, describe the system as onerous and stress-inducing . Conversations with 27 current and recently departed Whole Foods workers, including cashiers and corporate employees -- some of whom have been with the company for nearly two decades -- say the system is seen by many as punitive. - BI
Terrified employees report constant fear over losing their jobs over the OTS "scorecards," which anything below 89.9% can qualify as a failing score - resulting in possible firings. Whole Foods employees around the country thought that was hilarious. One such disaffected West Coast supervisor said "On my most recent time card, I clocked over 10 hours of overtime, sitting at a desk doing OTS work," adding "Rather than focusing on guest service, I've had team members cleaning facial-care testers and facing the shelves, so that everything looks perfect and untouched at all times."
Many Whole Foods employees at the corporate and store levels still don't understand how OTS works, employees said.
"OTS has confused so many smart, logical, and experienced individuals, the befuddlement is now a thing, a life all its own," an employee of a Chicago-area store said. "It's a collective confusion -- constantly changing, no clear answers to the questions that never were, until now."
An employee of a North Carolina Whole Foods said: " No one really knows this business model, and those who are doing the scorecards -- even regional leadership -- are not clear on practices and consequently are constantly providing the department leaders with inaccurate directions. All this comes at a time when labor has been reduced to an unachievable level given the requirements of the OTS model. "
peddling-fiction -> SloMoe Feb 6, 2018 9:52 PM PermalinkBabaLooey -> peddling-fiction Feb 6, 2018 9:58 PM Permalink
Have they been Amazoned?
Robots will soon pick up the slack...IH8OBAMA -> Cognitive Dissonance Feb 6, 2018 10:32 PM Permalink
Dr. EvilBezos strikes again!
The shit fuck......erkme73 -> JimmyJones Feb 6, 2018 11:11 PM Permalink
From Amazon workers, delivery drivers and now Whole Foods workers, it sounds like the Beezer is a real tyrant to work for. I'm surprised unions haven't been able to penetrate that organization. It is certainly big enough.A Nanny Moose -> erkme73 Feb 6, 2018 11:57 PM Permalink
Wife is an ER MD. The physician leasing firm that employs her, which has the contract at the local hospital, recently got bought out by a new group. Suddenly she has a new director who assigns quotas to everything, and grades every aspect of her performance. It is quite stressful, and takes much of what little joy there was in her profession, and flushes it away. She is actively entertaining head hunters' calls again.
Just finished a two-year project building a hospital's Information Security Program....everything heading toward performance metrics measured against some horseshit ticketing system. Such systems only encourage throwing of horseshit over the fence, by incapable amateurs, to the people who actually know how to think. This program was put in place by a CIO who was former Air Farce.
It now takes 5 fucking hours of bureaucratic horseshit to perform 1/2 hour of actual engineering/technical work. The next step is to automate technical work from within the change control and IT automation systems.
Mark my words....just wait until the vulnerabilities in these change control, and Information Security Automation systems are exploited. Wait for the flaws in the code used to automate creation of entire networks, sever farms, security policies, etc.
I don't want to be within 100 miles of anything modern when this all goes to shit.
Jun 01, 2012 | www.networkworld.com
A majority of IT professionals judge their current managers as graders (61%) versus teachers (26%), but it's more important to create a nurturing workplace than a pass/fail department, Silver said.
"There will always be a need for some grading, but the emphasis should be on teaching. Tech professionals do their best work when it's a safe environment to try new solutions, explore alternatives and fail," Silver said. "Over time, wisdom gained equals fewer mistakes, cutting quickly to the best solution and increasing production. That's a pretty good payback."
If tech employees don't feel valued, they're going to jump ship. Turnover has fallen below average for 41 months in a row, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but tech managers can't count on a struggling economy and tight job market to keep their departments staffed. Good talent will flee, Silver says.
"Frankly, companies haven't felt the repercussions of subpar workplaces in the last three years. But, the gap between the importance of the employee-manager relationship and the way it's developing is unacceptable. Both sides need to remember this is a lasting connection and one worth the effort."
Tech managers always look to their vendor for guidance as to what to do with their tech people. Vendors, after all, compete with similar skills in techs since they build and sometimes even use the products and tools the client tech managers deal with on daily basis.
When vendors like IBM have been treating their tech skills asset like dirt and call them "resources", it is a surprise that the client managers of those same skills don't do the same thing?
Until the hypocrisy of calling tech people vital but treating them like "human resources" ends we will continue to have this management problem. If and when the economy turns around. the new rising young generation of cynical and self-centered tech employees which these management practices have created will come to roost to American business.
Aug 08, 2005 | fastcompany.com
In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job -- and how can we fix it?From: Issue 97 | August 2005 | Page 40 | By: Keith H. Hammonds | Illustrations by: Gary Baseman
Because let's face it: After close to 20 years of hopeful rhetoric about becoming "strategic partners" with a "seat at the table" where the business decisions that matter are made, most human-resources professionals aren't nearly there. They have no seat, and the table is locked inside a conference room to which they have no key. HR people are, for most practical purposes, neither strategic nor leaders.
I don't care for Las Vegas. And if it's not clear already, I don't like HR, either, which is why I'm here. The human-resources trade long ago proved itself, at best, a necessary evil -- and at worst, a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change. HR is the corporate function with the greatest potential -- the key driver, in theory, of business performance -- and also the one that most consistently underdelivers. And I am here to find out why.
Why are annual performance appraisals so time-consuming -- and so routinely useless? Why is HR so often a henchman for the chief financial officer, finding ever-more ingenious ways to cut benefits and hack at payroll? Why do its communications -- when we can understand them at all -- so often flout reality? Why are so many people processes duplicative and wasteful, creating a forest of paperwork for every minor transaction? And why does HR insist on sameness as a proxy for equity?
It's no wonder that we hate HR. In a 2005 survey by consultancy Hay Group, just 40% of employees commended their companies for retaining high-quality workers. Just 41% agreed that performance evaluations were fair. Only 58% rated their job training as favorable. Most said they had few opportunities for advancement -- and that they didn't know, in any case, what was required to move up. Most telling, only about half of workers below the manager level believed their companies took a genuine interest in their well-being.
None of this is explained immediately in Vegas. These HR folks, from employers across the nation, are neither evil courtiers nor thoughtless automatons. They are mostly smart, engaging people who seem genuinely interested in doing their jobs better. They speak convincingly about employee development and cultural transformation. And, over drinks, they spin some pretty funny yarns of employee weirdness. (Like the one about the guy who threatened to sue his wife's company for "enabling" her affair with a coworker. Then there was the mentally disabled worker and the hooker -- well, no, never mind. . . .)
But then the facade cracks. It happens at an afternoon presentation called "From Technicians to Consultants: How to Transform Your HR Staff into Strategic Business Partners." The speaker, Julie Muckler, is senior vice president of human resources at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. She is an enthusiastic woman with a broad smile and 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson & Johnson and General Tire. She has degrees in consumer economics and human resources and organizational development.
And I have no idea what she's talking about. There is mention of "internal action learning" and "being more planful in my approach." PowerPoint slides outline Wells Fargo Home Mortgage's initiatives in performance management, organization design, and horizontal-solutions teams. Muckler describes leveraging internal resources and involving external resources -- and she leaves her audience dazed. That evening, even the human-resources pros confide they didn't understand much of it, either.
This, friends, is the trouble with HR. In a knowledge economy, companies that have the best talent win. We all know that. Human resources execs should be making the most of our, well, human resources -- finding the best hires, nurturing the stars, fostering a productive work environment -- just as IT runs the computers and finance minds the capital. HR should be joined to business strategy at the hip.
Instead, most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence. They are competent at the administrivia of pay, benefits, and retirement, but companies increasingly are farming those functions out to contractors who can handle such routine tasks at lower expense. What's left is the more important strategic role of raising the reputational and intellectual capital of the company -- but HR is, it turns out, uniquely unsuited for that.
1. HR people aren't the sharpest tacks in the box. We'll be blunt: If you are an ambitious young thing newly graduated from a top college or B-school with your eye on a rewarding career in business, your first instinct is not to join the human-resources dance. (At the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, which arguably boasts the nation's top faculty for organizational issues, just 1.2% of 2004 grads did so.) Says a management professor at one leading school: "The best and the brightest don't go into HR."
Who does? Intelligent people, sometimes -- but not businesspeople. "HR doesn't tend to hire a lot of independent thinkers or people who stand up as moral compasses," says Garold L. Markle, a longtime human-resources executive at Exxon and Shell Offshore who now runs his own consultancy. Some are exiles from the corporate mainstream: They've fared poorly in meatier roles -- but not poorly enough to be fired. For them, and for their employers, HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.
Others enter the field by choice and with the best of intentions, but for the wrong reasons. They like working with people, and they want to be helpful -- noble motives that thoroughly tick off some HR thinkers. "When people have come to me and said, 'I want to work with people,' I say, 'Good, go be a social worker,' " says Arnold Kanarick, who has headed human resources at the Limited and, until recently, at Bear Stearns. "HR isn't about being a do-gooder. It's about how do you get the best and brightest people and raise the value of the firm."
The really scary news is that the gulf between capabilities and job requirements appears to be widening. As business and legal demands on the function intensify, staffers' educational qualifications haven't kept pace. In fact, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a considerably smaller proportion of HR professionals today have some education beyond a bachelor's degree than in 1990.
And here's one more slice of telling SHRM data: When HR professionals were asked about the worth of various academic courses toward a "successful career in HR," 83% said that classes in interpersonal communications skills had "extremely high value." Employment law and business ethics followed, at 71% and 66%, respectively. Where was change management? At 35%. Strategic management? 32%. Finance? Um, that was just 2%.
The truth? Most human-resources managers aren't particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business. And in a business, that's sort of a problem. As guardians of a company's talent, HR has to understand how people serve corporate objectives. Instead, "business acumen is the single biggest factor that HR professionals in the U.S. lack today," says Anthony J. Rucci, executive vice president at Cardinal Health Inc., a big health-care supply distributor.
Rucci is consistently mentioned by academics, consultants, and other HR leaders as an executive who actually does know business. At Baxter International, he ran both HR and corporate strategy. Before that, at Sears, he led a study of results at 800 stores over five years to assess the connection between employee commitment, customer loyalty, and profitability.
As far as Rucci is concerned, there are three questions that any decent HR person in the world should be able to answer. First, who is your company's core customer? "Have you talked to one lately? Do you know what challenges they face?" Second, who is the competition? "What do they do well and not well?" And most important, who are we? "What is a realistic assessment of what we do well and not so well vis a vis the customer and the competition?"
Does your HR pro know the answers?
2. HR pursues efficiency in lieu of value. Why? Because it's easier -- and easier to measure. Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan, recalls meeting with the chairman and top HR people from a big bank. "The training person said that 80% of employees have done at least 40 hours in classes. The chairman said, 'Congratulations.' I said, 'You're talking about the activities you're doing. The question is, What are you delivering?' "
That sort of stuff drives Ulrich nuts. Over 20 years, he has become the HR trade's best-known guru (see "The Once and Future Consultant," page 48) and a leading proponent of the push to take on more-strategic roles within corporations. But human-resources managers, he acknowledges, typically undermine that effort by investing more importance in activities than in outcomes. "You're only effective if you add value," Ulrich says. "That means you're not measured by what you do but by what you deliver." By that, he refers not just to the value delivered to employees and line managers, but the benefits that accrue to investors and customers, as well.
So here's a true story: A talented young marketing exec accepts a job offer with Time Warner out of business school. She interviews for openings in several departments -- then is told by HR that only one is interested in her. In fact, she learns later, they all had been. She had been railroaded into the job, under the supervision of a widely reviled manager, because no one inside the company would take it.
You make the call: Did HR do its job? On the one hand, it filled the empty slot. "It did what was organizationally expedient," says the woman now. "Getting someone who wouldn't kick and scream about this role probably made sense to them. But I just felt angry." She left Time Warner after just a year. (A Time Warner spokesperson declined to comment on the incident.)
Part of the problem is that Time Warner's metrics likely will never catch the real cost of its HR department's action. Human resources can readily provide the number of people it hired, the percentage of performance evaluations completed, and the extent to which employees are satisfied or not with their benefits. But only rarely does it link any of those metrics to business performance.
John W. Boudreau, a professor at the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, likens the failing to shortcomings of the finance function before DuPont figured out how to calculate return on investment in 1912. In HR, he says, "we don't have anywhere near that kind of logical sophistication in the way of people or talent. So the decisions that get made about that resource are far less sophisticated, reliable, and consistent."
Cardinal Health's Rucci is trying to fix that. Cardinal regularly asks its employees 12 questions designed to measure engagement. Among them: Do they understand the company's strategy? Do they see the connection between that and their jobs? Are they proud to tell people where they work? Rucci correlates the results to those of a survey of 2,000 customers, as well as monthly sales data and brand-awareness scores.
"So I don't know if our HR processes are having an impact" per se, Rucci says. "But I know absolutely that employee-engagement scores have an impact on our business," accounting for between 1% and 10% of earnings, depending on the business and the employee's role. "Cardinal may not anytime soon get invited by the Conference Board to explain our world-class best practices in any area of HR -- and I couldn't care less. The real question is, Is the business effective and successful?"
3. HR isn't working for you. Want to know why you go through that asinine performance appraisal every year, really? Markle, who admits to having administered countless numbers of them over the years, is pleased to confirm your suspicions. Companies, he says "are doing it to protect themselves against their own employees," he says. "They put a piece of paper between you and employees, so if you ever have a confrontation, you can go to the file and say, 'Here, I've documented this problem.' "
There's a good reason for this defensive stance, of course. In the last two generations, government has created an immense thicket of labor regulations. Equal Employment Opportunity; Fair Labor Standards; Occupational Safety and Health; Family and Medical Leave; and the ever-popular ERISA. These are complex, serious issues requiring technical expertise, and HR has to apply reasonable caution.
But "it's easy to get sucked down into that," says Mark Royal, a senior consultant with Hay Group. "There's a tension created by HR's role as protector of corporate assets -- making sure it doesn't run afoul of the rules. That puts you in the position of saying no a lot, of playing the bad cop. You have to step out of that, see the broad possibilities, and take a more open-minded approach. You need to understand where the exceptions to broad policies can be made."
Typically, HR people can't, or won't. Instead, they pursue standardization and uniformity in the face of a workforce that is heterogeneous and complex. A manager at a large capital leasing company complains that corporate HR is trying to eliminate most vice-president titles there -- even though veeps are a dime a dozen in the finance industry. Why? Because in the company's commercial business, vice president is a rank reserved for the top officers. In its drive for bureaucratic "fairness," HR is actually threatening the reputation, and so the effectiveness, of the company's finance professionals.
The urge for one-size-fits-all, says one professor who studies the field, "is partly about compliance, but mostly because it's just easier." Bureaucrats everywhere abhor exceptions -- not just because they open up the company to charges of bias but because they require more than rote solutions. They're time-consuming and expensive to manage. Make one exception, HR fears, and the floodgates will open.
There's a contradiction here, of course: Making exceptions should be exactly what human resources does, all the time -- not because it's nice for employees, but because it drives the business. Employers keep their best people by acknowledging and rewarding their distinctive performance, not by treating them the same as everyone else. "If I'm running a business, I can tell you who's really helping to drive the business forward," says Dennis Ackley, an employee communication consultant. "HR should have the same view. We should send the message that we value our high-performing employees and we're focused on rewarding and retaining them."
Instead, human-resources departments benchmark salaries, function by function and job by job, against industry standards, keeping pay -- even that of the stars -- within a narrow band determined by competitors. They bounce performance appraisals back to managers who rate their employees too highly, unwilling to acknowledge accomplishments that would merit much more than the 4% companywide increase.
Human resources, in other words, forfeits long-term value for short-term cost efficiency. A simple test: Who does your company's vice president of human resources report to? If it's the CFO -- and chances are good it is -- then HR is headed in the wrong direction. "That's a model that cannot work," says one top HR exec who has been there. "A financial person is concerned with taking money out of the organization. HR should be concerned with putting investments in."
4. The corner office doesn't get HR (and vice versa). I'm at another rockin' party: a few dozen midlevel human-resources managers at a hotel restaurant in Mahwah, New Jersey. It is not glam in any way. (I've got to get a better travel agent.) But it is telling, in a hopeful way. Hunter Douglas, a $2.1 billion manufacturer of window coverings, has brought its HR staff here from across the United States to celebrate their accomplishments.
The company's top brass is on hand. Marvin B. Hopkins, president and CEO of North American operations, lays on the praise: "I feel fantastic about your achievements," he says. "Our business is about people. Hiring, training, and empathizing with employees is extremely important. When someone is fired or leaves, we've failed in some way. People have to feel they have a place at the company, a sense of ownership."
So, yeah, it's corporate-speak in a drab exurban office park. But you know what? The human-resources managers from Tupelo and Dallas are totally pumped up. They've been flown into headquarters, they've had their picture taken with the boss, and they're seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway that afternoon on the company's dime.
Can your HR department say it has the ear of top management? Probably not. "Sometimes," says Ulrich, "line managers just have this legacy of HR in their minds, and they can't get rid of it. I felt really badly for one HR guy. The chairman wanted someone to plan company picnics and manage the union, and every time this guy tried to be strategic, he got shot down."
Say what? Execs don't think HR matters? What about all that happy talk about employees being their most important asset? Well, that turns out to have been a small misunderstanding. In the 1990s, a group of British academics examined the relationship between what companies (among them, the UK units of Hewlett-Packard and Citibank) said about their human assets and how they actually behaved. The results were, perhaps, inevitable.
In their rhetoric, human-resources organizations embraced the language of a "soft" approach, speaking of training, development, and commitment. But "the underlying principle was invariably restricted to the improvements of bottom-line performance," the authors wrote in the resulting book, Strategic Human Resource Management (Oxford University Press, 1999). "Even if the rhetoric of HRM is soft, the reality is almost always 'hard,' with the interests of the organization prevailing over those of the individual."
In the best of worlds, says London Business School professor Lynda Gratton, one of the study's authors, "the reality should be some combination of hard and soft." That's what's going on at Hunter Douglas. Human resources can address the needs of employees because it has proven its business mettle -- and vice versa. Betty Lou Smith, the company's vice president of corporate HR, began investigating the connection between employee turnover and product quality. Divisions with the highest turnover rates, she found, were also those with damaged-goods rates of 5% or higher. And extraordinarily, 70% of employees were leaving the company within six months of being hired.
Smith's staffers learned that new employees were leaving for a variety of reasons: They didn't feel respected, they didn't have input in decisions, but mostly, they felt a lack of connection when they were first hired. "We gave them a 10-minute orientation, then they were out on the floor," Smith says. She addressed the weakness by creating a mentoring program that matched new hires with experienced workers. The latter were suspicious at first, but eventually, the mentor positions (with spiffy shirts and caps) came to be seen as prestigious. The six-month turnover rate dropped dramatically, to 16%. Attendance and productivity -- and the damaged-goods rate -- improved.
"We don't wait to hear from top management," Smith says. "You can't just sit in the corner and look at benefits. We have to know what the issues in our business are. HR has to step up and assume responsibility, not wait for management to knock on our door."
But most HR people do.
H unter Douglas gives us a glimmer of hope -- of the possibility that HR can be done right. And surely, even within ineffective human-resources organizations, there are great individual HR managers -- trustworthy, caring people with their ears to the ground, who are sensitive to cultural nuance yet also understand the business and how people fit in. Professionals who move voluntarily into HR from line positions can prove especially adroit, bringing a profit-and-loss sensibility and strong management skills.
At Yahoo, Libby Sartain, chief people officer, is building a group that may prove to be the truly effective human-resources department that employees and executives imagine. In this, Sartain enjoys two advantages. First, she arrived with a reputation as a creative maverick, won in her 13 years running HR at Southwest Airlines. And second, she had license from the top to do whatever it took to create a world-class organization.
Sartain doesn't just have a "seat at the table" at Yahoo; she actually helped build the table, instituting a weekly operations meeting that she coordinates with COO Dan Rosensweig. Talent is always at the top of the agenda -- and at the end of each meeting, the executive team mulls individual development decisions on key staffers.
That meeting, Sartain says, "sends a strong message to everyone at Yahoo that we can't do anything without HR." It also signals to HR staffers that they're responsible for more than shuffling papers and getting in the way. "We view human resources as the caretaker of the largest investment of the company," Sartain says. "If you're not nurturing that investment and watching it grow, you're not doing your job."
Yahoo, say some experts and peers at other organizations, is among a few companies -- among them Cardinal Health, Procter & Gamble, Pitney Bowes, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric -- that truly are bringing human resources into the realm of business strategy. But they are indeed the few. USC professor Edward E. Lawler III says that last year HR professionals reported spending 23% of their time "being a strategic business partner" -- no more than they reported in 1995. And line managers, he found, said HR is far less involved in strategy than HR thinks it is. "Despite great huffing and puffing about strategy," Lawler says, "there's still a long way to go." (Indeed. When I asked one midlevel HR person exactly how she was involved in business strategy for her division, she excitedly described organizing a monthly lunch for her vice president with employees.)
What's driving the strategy disconnect? London Business School's Gratton spends a lot of time training human-resources professionals to create more impact. She sees two problems: Many HR people, she says, bring strong technical expertise to the party but no "point of view about the future and how organizations are going to change." And second, "it's very difficult to align HR strategy to business strategy, because business strategy changes very fast, and it's hard to fiddle around with a compensation strategy or benefits to keep up." More than simply understanding strategy, Gratton says, truly effective executives "need to be operating out of a set of principles and personal values." And few actually do.
In the meantime, economic natural selection is, in a way, taking care of the problem for us. Some 94% of large employers surveyed this year by Hewitt Associates reported they were outsourcing at least one human-resources activity. By 2008, according to the survey, many plan to expand outsourcing to include activities such as learning and development, payroll, recruiting, health and welfare, and global mobility.
Which is to say, they will farm out pretty much everything HR does. The happy rhetoric from the HR world says this is all for the best: Outsourcing the administrative minutiae, after all, would allow human-resources professionals to focus on more important stuff that's central to the business. You know, being strategic partners.
The problem, if you're an HR person, is this: The tasks companies are outsourcing -- the administrivia -- tend to be what you're good at. And what's left isn't exactly your strong suit. Human resources is crippled by what Jay Jamrog, executive director of the Human Resource Institute, calls "educated incapacity: You're smart, and you know the way you're working today isn't going to hold 10 years from now. But you can't move to that level. You're stuck."
That's where human resources is today. Stuck. "This is a unique organization in the company," says USC's Boudreau. "It discovers things about the business through the lens of people and talent. That's an opportunity for competitive advantage." In most companies, that opportunity is utterly wasted.
And that's why I don't like HR.
Keith H. Hammonds is Fast Company's deputy editor.
Aug 29, 2016 | discussion.theguardian.com
Happytobeasocialist, 2014-09-29 09:07:21Pasdabong Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:28:58
Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us
Less of the 'us' please. there are plenty of people who are disgusted by neoliberalism and are determined to bring it downAs disgusted and determined as we might be, we still have to operate within the 'neoliberal' system. We are all 'us' in this context and we are all a product of our environment to some extent. however crap that environment might be.InconvenientTruths Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:39:02Neo-Liberal ElephantSaulZaentz , 2014-09-29 09:10:36
There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only chaned
If you have no mandate for such change, it breeds resentment.
For example, race & immigration was used by NuLabour in a blatant attempt at mass societal engineering (via approx 8%+ increase in national population over 13 years).
It was the most significant betrayal in modern democratic times, non mandated change extraordinaire, not only of British Society, but the core traditional voter base for Labour.
To see people still trying to deny it took place and dismiss the fallout of the cultural elephant rampaging around the United Kingdom is as disingenuous as it is pathetic.
Labour are the midwives of UKiP.
This cultural elephant has tusks.It's a race to the bottom, and has lead to such "success stories" as G4S, Serco, A4E, ATOS, Railtrack, privatised railways, privatised water and so on.Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:13:38
It's all about to get even worse with TTIP, and if that fails there is always TISA which mandates privatisation of pretty much everything - breaking state monopolies on public services.
Combined with offshoring of as many jobs abroad as possible, free movement of unskilled workers and the use of agency labour to undercut pay and conditions, the future looks bleak.AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:16:42
A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents
There is nothing meritocratic about neoliberlaism. Its about who you know. In the UK things have gone backwards almost to the 1950s. Changes which were brought about by the expansion of universities have pretty much been reversed. The establishment - politics, media, business is dominated by the better=off Oxbridge elite.It is difficult for me to agree. I have grown up within Neoliberalism being 35, but you describe no one I know. People I know weigh up the extra work involved in a promotion and decide whether the sacrifice is worth the extra money/success.JamesValencia AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:25:40
People I know go after their dreams, whether that be farming or finance. I understand what you say, and there is definitely an element within society which values Success above all else, but I do not personally know anyone like that.He's saying people's characters are changed by their environment. That they aren't set in stone, but are a function of culture. And that the socio-cultural shift in the last few decades is a bad thing, and is bad for our characters. In your words: The dreams have changed.AntiTerrorist JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 09:38:49
It's convincing, except it isn't as clear as it could be.I understand his principle but as proof, he sites very specific examples...CityBoy2006 AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:52:05
A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?
This is used as an example to show the shifting mindset. But as I stated, this describes no one I know. We, us, commenting here are society. I agree that there has been a shift in culture and those reaping the biggest financial rewards are the greedy. But has that not always been the way, the self interested have always walked away with the biggest slice, perhaps at the moment that slice has become larger still, but most people still want to have a comfortable life, lived their way. People haven't changed as much as the OP believes.
The great lie is that financial reward is success and happiness.GordonLiddle , 2014-09-29 09:17:21
This is used as an example to show the shifting mindset. But as I stated, this describes no one I know
Indeed even in the "sociopathic" world of fund management and investment banking, the vast majority of people establish a balance for how they wish to manage their work and professional lives and evaluate decisions in light of them both.One could use another word or two, crony capitalism being a particularly good pair. Not what you know but who.SaulZaentz GordonLiddle , 2014-09-29 09:36:48Indeed. How come G4S keep winning contracts despite their behaviour being incompetent and veering on criminal, and the fact they are despised pretty much universally. Hardly a meritocracy.dreamer06 SaulZaentz , 2014-09-29 13:40:16http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3862998.ecePasdabong ElQuixote , 2014-09-29 09:33:20
You can add A4E to that list and now Capita who have recruited all of 61 part time soldiers in their contract to replace all the thousands of sacked professionals.....By "us" of course, you mean commies. I think you are inadvertently demonstrating another of Hares psychopath test features; a lack of empathy and self awareness.KatieL dieterroth , 2014-09-29 09:58:16"Since the living standards of majority in this country are on a downward trend"dieterroth , 2014-09-29 09:19:32
The oil's running out. Living standards, on average, will continue to decline until either it stops running out or fusion power turns out to work after all.
Whether you have capitalism or socialism won't make any difference to the declining energy input.I'm sure I read an article in the 80s predicting what the author has written. Economics and cultural environment is bound to have an effect on behaviour. We now live in a society that worships at the altar of the cult of the individual. Society and growth of poverty no longer matters, a lone success story proves all those people falling into poverty are lazy good for nothing parasites. The political class claims to be impotent when it comes to making a fairer society because the political class is made up of people who were affluent in the first place or benefited from a neo-liberal rigged economy. The claim is, anything to do with a fair society is social engineering and bound to fail. Well, neo-liberal Britain was socially engineered and it is failing the majority of people in the country.Johanni dieterroth , 2014-09-29 10:24:23
There is a cognitive dissonance going on in the political narrative of neo-liberalism, not everyone can make it in a neo-liberal society and since neo-liberalism destroys social mobility. Ironically, the height of social mobility in the west, from the gradual rise through the 50s and 60s, was the 70s. The 80s started the the downward trend in social mobility despite all the bribes that went along with introducing the property owning democracy, which was really about chaining people to capitalism.thebogusman Johanni , 2014-09-29 13:15:54
I'm sure I read an article in the 80s predicting what the author has written.
Well, a transformation of human character was the open battle-cry of 1980s proponents of neoliberalism. Helmut Kohl, the German prime minister, called it the "geistig-moralische Wende", the "spiritual and moral sea-change" - I think people just misunderstood what he meant by that, and laughed at what they saw as empty sloganeering. Now we're reaping what his generation sowed.Tatcher actually said that the goal of neoliberalism is not new economics but to "change the soul"!arkley dieterroth , 2014-09-29 18:10:04OK, now can you tell us why individual freedom is such a bad thing?Febo , 2014-09-29 09:21:28
The previous period of liberal economics ended a century ago, destroyed by the war whose outbreak we are interminably celebrating. That war and the one that followed a generation later brought in strict government control, even down to what people could eat and wear. Orwell's dystopia of 1984 actually describes Britain's wartime society continuing long after the real wars had ended. It was the slow pace of lifting wartime controls, even slower in Eastern Europe, and the lingering mindset that economies and societies could be directed for "the greater good" no matter what individual costs there were that led to a revival of liberal economics.Neoliberalism is a mere offshoot of Neofeudalism. Labour and Capital - those elements of both not irretrievably bought-out - must demand the return of The Commons . We must extend our analysis back over centuries , not decades - let's strike to the heart of the matter!Febo undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:49:03Both neofeudalism - aka neocolonialism-abroad-and-at-home - and neoliberalism rest on the theft of the Commons - they both support monopoly.callaspodeaspode undersinged , 2014-09-29 10:11:05JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 09:21:56Collectivist ideologies including Fascism, Communism and theocracy are all similar to feudalism.
I've worked in a few large private companies over the years, and my experience is they increasingly resemble some sort of cult, with endless brainwashing programmes for the 'members', charismatic leaders who can do no wrong, groupthink, mandatory utilisation of specialist jargon (especially cod-psychological terminology) to differentiate those 'in' and those 'out', increased blurring of the lines between 'private' and 'work' life (your ass belongs to us 24-7) and of course, constant, ever more complex monitoring of the 'members' for 'heretical thoughts or beliefs'.
'Collectivism' is not as incompatible with capitalism as you seem to think.
You sound like one of those 'libertarians'. Frankly, I think the ideals of such are only realisable as a sole trader, or operating in a very small business.
Progress is restricted because the people are made poor by the predations of the state
Neoliberalism is firmly committed to individual liberty, and therefore to peace and mutual toleration
It is firmly committed to ensuring that the boundaries between private and public entities become blurred, with all the ensuing corruption that entails. In other words, that the state becomes (through the taxpayers) a captured one, delivering a never ending, always growing, revenue stream for favoured players in private enterprise. This is, of course, deliberate. 'Individual liberties and mutual toleration' are only important insomuch as they improve, or detract, from profit-centre activity.
You have difficulty in separating propaganda from reality, but you're barely alone in this.
Lastly, you also misunderstand feudalism, which in the European context, flourished before there was a developed concept of a centralised nation state, indeed, the most classic examples occurred after the decentralisation of an empire or suchlike. The primary feudal relation was between the bondsman/peasant and his local magnate, who in turn, was subject to his liege.
In other words a warrior class bound by vassalage to a nobility, with the peasantry bound by manorialism and to the estates of the Church.
Apart from that though, you're right on everything.I completely agree with the general sentiment.UnironicBeard JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 10:39:08
The specifics aren't that solid though:
- That we think our characters are independent of context/society: I certainly don't.
- That statement about "bullying is more widespread" - lacks justification.
The general theme of "meritocracy is a fiction" is compelling though.
As is "We are free-er in many ways because those ways no longer have any significance" .
And the most striking idea here: Our characters are partly moulded by society. And neo-liberal society, and it's illusions of freedom, has moulded many of us in ways that bring out the worst in us.The Rat Race is a joke. Too many people waste their lives away playing the capitalist game. As long as you've got enough money to keep living you can be happy. Just ignore the pathetic willy-wavers with their flashy cars and logos on their shirts and all that guffCharlesII JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 13:27:30JamesValencia UnironicBeard , 2014-09-29 13:42:50
- That statement about "bullying is more widespread" - lacks justification.
Absolutely. I stopped reading there. Bullying is noticed now, and seen as a 'bad thing'. In offices 30, 50, years ago, it was standard .Preaching to the converted, there, Beard :)dieterroth undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:26:28
All we need is "enough" - Posession isn't that interesting. More a doorway to doing interesting stuff.
I prefer to cut out the posession and go straight to "do interesting stuff" myself. As long as the rent gets paid and so on, obviously.
Doesn't always work, obviously, but I reckon not wanting stuff is a good start to the good life (ref. to series with Felicity Kendall (and some others) intended :)
That, and Epicurus who I keep mentioning on CIF.Rather naive. History is full of brilliant individuals who made it. Neo-liberalism has however killed off post war social mobility. In fact according to the OECD report into social mobility, the more egalitarian a developed society is, the more social mobility there is, the more productivity and the less poverty and social problems there are.dieterroth undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:28:55"Collectivism gave us Communism, Nazism and universalist religions that try to impose uniformity through the method of mass murder."Febo undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:34:05
Capitalism and free markets gave us them as all were reactions to economic failure and having nothing to lose.I agree - the central dilemma is that neither individualism nor collectiviism works.checkreakity , 2014-09-29 09:23:39
But is this dilemma real? Is there a third system? Yes there is - Henry George.
George's paradigm in nothing funky, it is simply Classical Liberal Economics - society works best when individuals get to keep the fruits of thier labour, but pay rent for the use of The Commons.
At present we have the opposite - labour and capital are taxed heavily and The commons are monopolised by the 1%.
Hence the wealth gap
Hence the environmental crisis
Hence povertyThis comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards . Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs .RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:24:11So the values and morals that people have are so wafer thin that a variation in the political system governing them can strip them away? Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?NinthLegion RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:26:57But it's because these values and moralities are so wafer thin that the Right can swing them in precisely the direction they want to. Greed is good!LouSnickers RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:28:35They dont like us!dieterroth RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:32:10
But then, I dont care for them, either!"Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?"yamba , 2014-09-29 09:30:07
Open your eyes and take a lokk at the world. There is enough wealth in the world for everyone to live free from poverty. Yet, the powerful look after themselves and allow poverty to not only exist but spread.Reminds me very much of No Country for Old Men , by Cormac McCarthy.annabelle123 yamba , 2014-09-29 11:00:22That's a good description of the NHS.WinstonThatcher , 2014-09-29 09:30:58It's certainly brought out the worst in the Guardian, publishing as it does oodles of brainless clickbate.nishville WinstonThatcher , 2014-09-29 11:13:50>If you've ever dithered over the question of whether the UK needs a written constitution, dither no longer. Imagine the clauses required to preserve the status of the Corporation. "The City of London will remain outside the authority of parliament. Domestic and foreign banks will be permitted to vote as if they were human beings, and their votes will outnumber those cast by real people. Its elected officials will be chosen from people deemed acceptable by a group of medieval guilds …".<paul643 , 2014-09-29 09:31:59vivientoft paul643 , 2014-09-29 13:05:01
Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.
I don't believe that bullying is new to the workplace., in fact I'd imagine it was worse before the days of elf 'n' safety.Why do you say that?annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:32:23I agree with much of this. Working in the NHS, as a clinical psychologist, over the past 25 years, I have seen a huge shift in the behaviour of managers who used to be valued for their support and nurturing of talent, but now are recognised for their brutal and aggressive approach to those beneath them. Reorganisations of services, which take place with depressing frequency, provide opportunities to clear out the older, experienced members of the profession who would have acted as mentors and teachers to the less experienced staff.saltash1920 annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:39:31I worked in local authority social care, I can certainly see the very close similarities to what you describe in the NHS, and my experience in the local authority.Davai annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:48:06Yes those were the days when you had people and personnel departments, rather than 'human resources' I suspect. You can blame the USA for that.annabelle123 saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 10:58:42
Constant reorgs are a sure sign of inept management.
They're also a sure sign of managers who want to 'hang out' with highly-paid, sexy management consultants and hopefully get offered a job.
But you're a psychologist so you know that already!
David Craig's books are worth a read.I can well imagine there are big similarities. Friends of mine who work in education say the same - there is a complete mismatch between the aims of the directors/managers and that of the professionals actually providing the teaching/therapy/advice to the public. When I go to senior meetings it is very rare that patients are even mentioned.StVitusGerulaitis , 2014-09-29 09:32:59MickGJ StVitusGerulaitis , 2014-09-29 16:15:49
Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.
This is an incredibly broad generalisation. I remember my grandfather telling me about what went on in the mills he worked in in Glasgow before the war, it sounded like a pretty savage environment if you didn't fit in. It wasn't called bullying, of course.
I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.
Isn't this true of pretty much any system? And human relationships in general? I cannot think of a system that is completely blind to the differences between people. If you happen to be lazy or have a problem with authority you will never do as "well" (for want of a better term).Socratese , 2014-09-29 09:33:25Don't be silly my saintly chum: who ever heard of a psychopath rising to the top in any other system than neo-liberal capitalism?
Isn't this true of pretty much any system?I have always said to people who claim they are Liberals that you must support capitalism,the free market,free trade, deregulation etc etc when most of them deny that, I always say you are not a Liberal then you're just cherry-picking the [Liberal] policies you like and the ones you don't like,which is dishonest.pinniped Socratese , 2014-09-29 10:24:59
There is nothing neo about Liberalism,it has been around since the 19th century[?].People have been brainwashed in this country [and the USA] since the 1960's to say they are liberals for fear of being accused of being fascists,which is quite another thing.
I have never supported any political ideology,which is what Liberalism is,and believe all of them should be challenged.By doing so you can evolve policies which are fair and just and appropriate to the issue at hand.Ah yes, No True Liberal.saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 09:34:32Neoliberalism has only benefited a minority. Usually those with well connected and wealthy families. And of course those who have no hesitation to exploit other's.rivendel saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 17:40:04
In my view, it is characterized by corruption, exploitation and a total lack of social justice. Economically, the whole system is fully dependent on competition not co-operation. One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.Highlights saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 21:52:03
And if we keep consuming all our resources on this finite planet in pursuit of profit and more profit there will be no human race we will all be extinct.,and all that will be left is an exhausted polluted planet that once harbored a vast variety of life.
Isent neolibral capitalism great.PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 09:36:18
One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.
Violence has already begun, in wars and protests, beheadings and wage cuts which leave people more and more desperate.PonyBoyUK PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 10:09:55
We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces
Which is exactly what we've been led to believe, by outside forces.
For other related films, please see:
The Corporation http://www.thecorporation.com/
The Century of the Self http://www.thecorporation.com/(doh!)NinthLegion , 2014-09-29 09:40:58
The Century of the Self - http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/As Marx so often claimed, values, ethics, morality and behaviours are themselves determined by the economic and monetary system under which people live. Stealing is permitted if you are a banker and call it a bonus or interest, murder is permitted if your government sends you to war, surveillance and data mining is permitted if your state tells you there is a danger from terrorists, crime is overlooked if it makes money for the perpetrator, benefit claimants are justified if they belong to an aristocratic caste or political elite.......Jack3 NinthLegion , 2014-09-29 10:44:31
There is no universal right or wrong, only that identified as such by the establishment at that particular instance in history, and at that specific place on the planet. Outside that, they have as much relevance today as scriptures instructing that slaves can be raped, adulterers can be stoned or the hands of thieves amputated. Give me the crime and the punishment, and I will give you the time and the place.For a tiny elite sitting on the top everything has been going exactly as it was initially planned.Finn_Nielsen Jack3 , 2014-09-29 10:58:47
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men
living together in Society, they create for themselves in the
course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a
moral code that glorifies it".
F. Bastiat.Bastiat was closer to a neoliberal than a Marxist...skagway Jack3 , 2014-09-30 14:48:40very true.Pasdabong , 2014-09-29 09:41:24Excellent article.abugaafar , 2014-09-29 09:42:40
I'm amazed that more isn't made of the relationship between political environment/systems and their effect on the individual. Oliver James Affluenza makes a compelling case for the unhappiness outputs of societies who've embraced neo liberalism yet we still blindly pursue it.
The US has long been world leader in both the demand and supply of psychotherapy and the relentless pursuit of free market economics. these stats are not unconnected.I once had a colleague with the knack of slipping into his conversation complimentary remarks that other people had made about him. It wasn't the only reason for his rapid ascent to great heights, but perhaps it helped.ThroatWobblaMangrove abugaafar , 2014-09-29 22:58:31That's one of my favourite characteristics of David Brent from 'The Office'. "You're all looking at me, you're going, "Well yeah, you're a success, you've achieved you're goals, you're reaping the rewards, sure. But, OI, Brent. Is all you care about chasing the Yankee dollar?"crasspymctabernacle , 2014-09-29 09:42:47This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremesBlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 09:43:50
Not when applied to IDS and other members of the cabinet.Neoliberalism is another Social Darwinist driven philosophy popularised after leading figures of our times (or rather former times) decided Malthus was probably correct.PonyBoyUK BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 10:11:45
So here we have it, serious growth in population, possibly unsustainable, and a growing 'weak will perish, strong will survive' mentality. The worst thing is I used to believe in neoliberal policies, until of course I understood the long term ramifications.It's a really good idea, - until you start thinking about it...AlbertaRabbit BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 10:27:02And then there's reality.BlueBrightFuture PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 10:33:06
And the reality is that "neoliberalism" has, in the last few decades, freed hundreds of millions in the developing word from a subsistence living to something resembling a middle class lifestyle.
This has resulted in both plummeting global poverty statistics and in greatly reduced fecundity, so that we will likely see a leveling off of global population in the next few decades. And this slowing down of population growth is the most critical thing we could for increasing sustainability.I suspect the logical conclusion of the free market is that the State will become formally superseded by an oligopoly - perhaps the energy sector.jimcol , 2014-09-29 09:44:45
I also suspect at least one third of the population in over-developed countries will simply become surplus to requirement.
Everybody wants an iPhone, nobody wants to work in Foxconn.It is rooted, I think, in the prevailing idea that what we own is more important than what we do. Consumerism grown and fostered by the greedy.vacuous jimcol , 2014-09-29 19:17:20The problem is a judeo-christian idea of "free choice" when experiments, undertaken by Benjamin Libet and since, indicate that it is near to unlikely for there to be volitionally controlled conscious decisions.CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 09:47:04
If we are not even free to intend and control our decisions, thoughts and ambitions, how can anyone claim to be morally entitled to ownership of their property and have a 'right' to anything as a reward for what decisions they made? Happening is pure luck: meaningful [intended] responsibility and accountability cannot be claimed for decisions and actions and so entitlement cannot be claimed for what acquisitions are causally obtained from those decisions and actions.There is no 'just desserts' or decision-derived entitlement justification for wealth and owning property unless the justifier has a superstitious and scientifically unfounded belief in free choice.Catonaboat CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 10:09:47
Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace
Compared to say, that experienced by domestic staff in big houses, small children in factories, perhaps even amongst miners, dockers and steel workers in the halcyon days of the post-war decade when apparently everything was rosy?
This whole article is a hodge podge of anecdote and flawed observations designed to shoehorn behaviour into a pattern that supports an economic hypothesis - it is factually groundless.Well I'd say he was spot on, when someone with the handle CityBoy2006 his a classic work place tantrum over the article.HarryTheHorse CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 11:13:24Slapchips , 2014-09-29 09:47:28
Compared to say, that experienced by domestic staff in big houses, small children in factories
Yes, but if it was left to people like you, children would still be working in factories. So please do not take credit for improvements that you would fight tooth and nail against
perhaps even amongst miners, dockers and steel workers in the halcyon days of the post-war decade when apparently everything was rosy?
They had wages coming to them and didn't need to rely on housing benefit to keep a roof over their head. Now people like you bitterly complain about poorly paid workers getting benefits to sustain them.People who "work hard and play hard" are nearly always kidding themselves about the second bit.Davai Slapchips , 2014-09-29 09:52:24
It seems to me that the trend in the world of neoliberalism is to think that "playing hard" is defined as "playing with expensive, branded toys" during your two week annual holiday.'Playing hard' in the careerist lexicon = getting blind drunk to mollify the feelings of despair and emptiness which typify a hollow, debt-soaked life defined by motor cars and houses.Sammy_89 Davai , 2014-09-29 09:56:06
All IM(NVH)O, of course. DYOR.Pays for schools and hospitals, thoughDavai Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 09:59:43Oh we had those before 1989.eldorado99 , 2014-09-29 09:49:50
It isn't a binary 'naked selfish captalist/socialist decision'. There is middle ground."support any political movement we like."ID12345 , 2014-09-29 09:50:07
Except those which have privacy from state surveillance as their core tenet.Green Party: We need to fight Neoliberalism.Loadsofspace , 2014-09-29 09:51:42The "Max Factor" life. Selfishness and Greed. The compaction of life. Was it not in a scripture in text?. The Bible. We as humans and followers of "Faith" in christian beliefs and the culture of love they fellow man. The culture of words are a root to all "Evil. Depending on "Who's" the Author and Scrolling the words; and for what reason?. The only way we can save what is left on this planet and save man kind. Is eradicate the above "Selfishness and Greed" ?ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 09:51:50CityBoy2006 ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 09:55:24
We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference.
These changes listed (and then casually dismissed) are monumental social achievements. Many countries in the world do not permit their 'citizens' such freedom of choice and I for one am very grateful to live in a country where these things are possible.
Of course there is much more to be done. But I would suggest that to be born in Western Europe today is probably about as safe, comfortable, and free than at any time and any place in human history. I'm not being complacent about what we still have to achieve. But we won't achieve anything if we take such a flippant attitude towards all the amazing things that have been bequeathed to us.Excellent observation, it's the same way that technology that has quite clearly changed our lives and given us access to information, opportunity to travel and entertainment that would have been beyond the comprehension of our grandparents is dismissed as irrelevant because its just a smart phone and a not a job for life in a British Leyland factory.Finn_Nielsen ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 10:09:36It takes a peculairly spoilt and arrogant Westerner to claim that the freedom to criticise religion isn't significant or that we're only allowed to do so because it's no longer important. Tell that to a girl seeking to escape an arranged marriage in Bradford...HarryTheHorse CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 11:15:51So being able to have a smart phone compensates for not having a secure place to live? What an absurd bubble you metropolitan types live in.Harry Palmer , 2014-09-29 09:52:22OK. Now off you go and apply the same methodology to people living in statist societies, or just have a go at our own civil service or local government workers. Try social workers or the benefits agency or the police.WindTurbine , 2014-09-29 09:53:31
Let us know what you find.The author makes some good points, although I wouldn't necessarily call our system a meritocracy.jclucas , 2014-09-29 09:53:32
I guess the key one is how unaware we are about the influence of economic policy on our values.
This kind of systems hurts everyday people and rewards psychopaths, and is damaging to society as a whole over the long term.
Targetising everything is really insidious.That neoliberalism puts tremendous pressure on individuals to conform to materialistic norms is undeniable, but for a psychotherapist to disallow the choice of those individuals to nevertheless choose how to live is an admission of failure.WindTurbine jclucas , 2014-09-29 10:01:42
In fact, many people today experience the shallowness and corrupt character of market society and elect either to be in it, but not of it, or to opt out early having made enough money, often making a conscious choice to relinquish the 'trappings' in return for a more meaningful existence. Some do selfless service to their fellow human beings, to the environment or both, and thereby find a degree of fulfillment that they always wanted.
To surrender to the external demands of a superficial and corrupting life is to ignore the tremendous opportunity human life offers to all: self realization.It's not either-or, system or individual, but some combination of the two.jclucas WindTurbine , 2014-09-29 10:21:57
Decision making may be 80% structure and 20% individual choice for the mainstream - or maybe the other way round for the rebels amongst us that try to reject the system.
The theory of structuration (Giddens) provides one explanation of how social systems develop through the interactions between the system and actors in it.
I partly agree with you but I think examples of complete self realisation are extremely rare. That means stepping completely out of the system and out of our own personality. Neither this nor that.The point is that the individual has the choice to move in the right direction. When and if they do make a decision to change their life, it will be fulfilling for them and for the system.AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 09:54:07arkley AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 09:59:50
Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success.
I have been in the private sector for generations, and know tons of people who have behaved precisely as described above. I don't know anyone who calls them crazy. In fact, I see the exact opposite tendency - the growing acceptance that money isn't everything, and that once one has achieved a certain level of success and financial security that it is fine to put other priorities first rather than simply trying to acquire ever more.The ATL article is rather stuffed full of stereotypes.Sammy_89 arkley , 2014-09-29 10:04:29
And speaking personally, I have turned down two offers of promotion to a management position in the last ten years and neither time did I get the sense people thought I was crazy. They might have done if I were in my late twenties rather than mid-fifties but that does reinforce the notion that people - even bosses - can accept that there is more to life than a career.I agree about the stereotypes. Also, has anyone ever seriously advised a primary school teacher that they need a masters degree of economics?! I highly doubt that that is the norm!MickGJ Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 16:18:57arkley , 2014-09-29 09:55:46Sounds more like parents advising an exceptionally bright child to go as far as she can with her education before she starts work.
Also, has anyone ever seriously advised a primary school teacher that they need a masters degree of economics?! I
I can't see why a primary school teacher should be dissuaded from doing a master's degree.How does that navel look today?Sammy_89 arkley , 2014-09-29 10:02:10
I hate to break it to you but no matter how you organise society the nasty people get to the top and the nice people end up doing all the work. "Neo-liberalism" is no different.Or you could put it another way - 'neoliberalism' is the least worst economic/social system, because most people are far more powerless and far more worse off under any other system that has ever been developed by man...TeddyFrench arkley , 2014-09-29 10:06:38For a start you need a system that is not based on rewarding and encouraging the worst aspects of our characters. I try to encourage my kids not to be greedy, to be honest and to care about others but in this day and age it's an uphill struggle.Finn_Nielsen Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 10:11:42It's a funny kind of neoliberalism we're supposedly suffering under when you consider the ratio of state spending to GDP...regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 09:57:13"A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal."Willhelm123 , 2014-09-29 09:57:41
In the UK we have nothing like a meritocracy with a privately educated elite.
Success and failure are just about parental wealth.I kind of see the point of this. What's the alternative though?MickGJ Willhelm123 , 2014-09-29 16:23:10gcarth , 2014-09-29 09:57:45Doing some research?
I kind of see the point of this. What's the alternative though?"So the values and morals that people have are so wafer thin that a variation in the political system governing them can strip them away? Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?"injinoo gcarth , 2014-09-29 10:01:41
RidleyWalker, I can assue you that it is not the left but the right who consistently have a low opinion of humanity. Anyway, what has left and right got to do with this? There are millions of ordinary decent people whose lives are blighted by the obscentity that is neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is designed to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor. Neo-liberalism is responsible for the misery for millions across the globe. The only happy ones are those at the top of the heap...until even their bloated selfish world inevitably implodes.
Of course these disgusting parasites are primitive thinkers and cannot see that we could have a better, happier world for everyone if societies become more equal. Studies demonstrate that more equal societies are more stable and content than those with ever-widening gaps in wealth between rich and poor.Which studies and which equal societies are you referring to. It would be good to know in order to cheer us all up a bit.Sammy_89 gcarth , 2014-09-29 10:08:52Neoliberalism...disgusting parasites...primitive thinkers...misery of millions...bloated selfish worldinjinoo , 2014-09-29 09:59:38
This reads like a Soviet pamphlet from the 1930's. Granted you've replaced the word 'capitalism' with 'neoliberalism' - in other words subsstituted one meaningless abstraction for another. It wasn't true then and it certainly isnt true now...Not sure why you think all this is new or attributable to neoliberalism. Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's. All that has changed is that instead of working on assembly lines in factories under the watchful gaze of a foreman we now have university degrees and sit in cubicles pressing buttons on keyboards. Micromanagement, bureaucracy, rules and regulations are as old as the hills. Office politics has replaced shop floor politics; the rich are still rich and the poor are still poor.Sammy_89 injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:10:20Well, except that people have more money, live longer and have more opportunities in life than before - most people anyway. The ones left behind are the ones we need to worry aboutrosemary152 injinoo , 2014-09-29 14:32:18MickGJ injinoo , 2014-09-29 16:24:51
Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's.
There is a difference. We now have the psychopathic-tendency merchants in charge, both of the banks, multinationals and our government.regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 10:00:59And you can read far more excoriating critiques of our shallow materialistic capitalism, culture from those decades, now recast as some sort of prelapsarian Golden Age.
Not sure why you think all this is new or attributable to neoliberalism. Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's.The psychopaths have congregated in Wall Street and the City.injinoo regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 10:03:58
One of the problems with psychopaths is that they never learn form mistakes.
Anyone that is watching will realise we are well on our way to the next Wall Street Crash - part 3.
Wall Street Crash Part 1 - 1929
Wall Street Crash Part 2 - 2008
Wall Street Crash Part 3 - soon
Each is bigger and better than the last - there may not be much left after Part 3.Actually, the 1929 crash was not the first by any means. The boom and bust cycle of modern economics goes back a lot further. When my grandparents talked about the "Great Depression" they were referring to the 1890's.regfromdagenham injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:05:24The financial psychopaths never learn!Isiodore injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:49:57The nineteenth century saw major financial crises in almost every decade, 1825, 1837, 1847, 1857, 1866 before we even get to the Great Depression of 1873-96.harrogateandrew , 2014-09-29 10:01:24And Socialism doesn't!Portman23 harrogateandrew , 2014-09-29 10:06:13
Socialism seems to be happy home of corruption & nepotism. The old saw that Tory MP's are brought down by sex scandals whilst Labour MP's have issues with money still holds.Why is that relevant? This is a critique of neo liberalism and it is a very accurate one at that. It isn't suggesting that Socialism is better or even offers an alternative, just that neo liberalism has failed society and explores some of how and why.TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 10:01:25The main problem is that neoliberalism is a faith dressed up as a science and any evidence that disproves the hypothesis (e.g. the 2008 financial collapse) only helps to reinforce the faith of the fundamentalists supporting it.AlbertaRabbit TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 10:10:36The reason why "neoliberalism" is so successful is precisely because the evidence shows it does work. It has not escaped peoples' notice that nations where governments heavily curtail individual and commercial freedom are often rather wretched places to live.TeddyFrench AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 10:31:54You conflate individual freedom with corporate freedom.JonPurrtree TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 11:16:25
Also, what happened in 2008 then? Anything to do with the hubris over free markets and de-regulation or was it just a blip?It would be nice to curtail coprorate freedom without curtailing the freedom of individuals. I don't see how that might work.hansen , 2014-09-29 10:02:14
"hubris over free markets" might well be it.
But I might be understanding that in a different way from you. People were making irrational decisions that didn't seem to take on basic logic of a free market, or even common sense. Such as "where is all this money coming from" (madoff, house ladder), "of course this will work" (fred goodwin and his takeovers) and even "will i get my money back" (sub-prime lending).So why don't we do something about it....genuinely? There appears to be no power left in voting unless people are given an actual choice....Is it not time then to to provide a well grounded articulate choice? The research, in many different disciplines, is already out there.menedemus hansen , 2014-09-29 10:27:39What can we do? It appears we are stuck between the Labour party and the Conservatives. Is it even possible for another party to come to power with the next couple of elections?ElDanielfire menedemus , 2014-09-29 11:41:06The Lib Dems? ;)gandrew hansen , 2014-09-29 13:04:53the Greens, clearly.AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 10:03:31Oscar Mandiaz AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-30 01:37:24
The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.
Verhaeghe begins by criticizing free markets and "neo-liberalism", but ends by criticizing the huge, stifling government bureaucracy that endeavours to micro-manage every aspect of its citizens lives, and is the opposite of true classic liberalism.
Must be confusing for him.probably not as confusing as it seems to be for you.Bloreheath , 2014-09-29 10:03:35
this is just the difference between neoliberalism in theory and in practise.
like the "real existierende sozialismus" in eastern germany fell somewhat short of the brilliant utopia of the theorists.
verhaeghe does not criticise the theoretical model, but the practical outcome. And the worst governmant and corporate bureaucracy that mankind has ever seen is part of it. The result of 30+ years of neoliberal policies.
In my experience this buerocracy is gets worse in anglo saxon countries closest to the singularity at the bottom of the neolib black hole.
I am aware that this is only a correlation, but correlations, while they do not prove causation, still require explanation.Some time ago, and perhaps still, it was/is fashionable for Toryish persons to denigrate the 1960s. I look back to that decade with much nostalgia. Nearly everyone had a job of sorts, not terribly well paid but at least it was a job. And now? You are compelled to toil your guts out, kiss somebody's backside, run up unpayable debts - and, in the UK, live in a house that in many other countries would have been demolished decades ago. Scarcely a day passes when I am not partly disgusted at what has overtaken my beloved country.LargeMarvin Bloreheath , 2014-09-29 11:25:19And scooters were 150s and 200s.capchaos , 2014-09-29 10:04:26An excellent article! The culture of the 80's has ruled for too long and its damage done.... its down to our youth to start to shape things now and I think that's beginning to happen.Davai capchaos , 2014-09-29 10:20:12Is it?Gogoh , 2014-09-29 10:06:33
I think the levels of debt amongst young 'consumers' would suggest otherwise.
They are after all, only human. Prone to want the baubles dangled in front of them, as are we all.Brilliant article.IGrumble , 2014-09-29 10:13:27Neo-Liberalism as operated today. "Greed is Good" and senior bankers and those who sell and buy money, commodities etc; are diven by this trait of humankind.pinniped , 2014-09-29 10:13:49
But we, the People are just as guilty with our drives for 'More'. More over everything, even shopping at the supermarket - "Buy one & get ten free", must have.
Designer ;bling;, clothes, shoes, bags, I-Pads etc etc, etc. It is never ending. People seem to be scared that they haven't got what next has, and next will think that they are 'Not Cool'.
We, the people should be satisfied with what have got, NOT what what we havn't got. Those who "want" (masses of material goods) usually "Dont get!"
The current system is unsustainable as the World' population rises and rises. Nature (Gaia) will take care of this through disease, famine, and of course the stupidity of Humankind - wars, destruction and general stupidity.What's a meritocracy? Oh, that's right - a fable that people who have a lot of money deserve it somehow because they're so much better than the people who work for a living.Keo2008 , 2014-09-29 10:13:54Huples Keo2008 , 2014-09-29 10:37:19
Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us
Speak for yourself.
Some of us are just as kind and tolerant as we have always been.The world is nastier than it was before outsourcing and efficiencies.AlbertaRabbit Huples , 2014-09-29 11:34:05
I am glad you have emerged unscathed
However be happy he is speaking as it allows your natural tolerance to shine ;-)The world was an even nastier place before the current era. During the 1970s and early 1980s there was huge inflation which robbed people of their saving, high unemployment, and (shudder) Disco.Finn_Nielsen , 2014-09-29 10:15:28
People tend to view the past with rose-coloured glasses.What neoliberalism? We've got a mixed economy, which seemingly upsets both those on the right who wish to cut back the state and those on the left who'd bolster it.Isiodore , 2014-09-29 10:16:21I work in a law firm specialising in M&A, hardly the cuddliest of environments, but I recognise almost nothing here as a description of my work place. Sure, some people are wankers but that's true everywhere.alazarin , 2014-09-29 10:16:26I'm enjoying watching the logical and conceptual contortions of Kippers on CiF attempting to positions themselves as being against neo-liberalism.Finn_Nielsen , 2014-09-29 10:17:26Babartov , 2014-09-29 10:19:39
You don't need to look far for examples.
Indeed not, you just made a few up.human socieity has always rewarded aggressive individuals willing to tread on others.pauledwards1000 , 2014-09-29 10:20:17
it's how we rollPeteCW pauledwards1000 , 2014-09-29 10:32:52
"Bullying used to be confined to schools".
That is patently untrue. Have you ever been outside your home and do you actually know anyone?Have you ever been outside your home and do you actually know anyone?Gogoh , 2014-09-29 10:20:46
This sentence could usefully be applied to the entire article.FDR, the Antichrist of the American Right, famously said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And here we are with this ideology which in many ways stokes the fear. The one thing these bastards don't want most of us to feel is secure.freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 10:23:16There is no "free market" anywhere. That is a fantasy. It is a term used when corporations want to complain about regulations. What we have in most industrialized countries is corporate socialism wherein corporations get to internalize profits and externalize costs and losses. It has killed of our economies and our middle class.dr8765 freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 11:35:11True. All markets are constructs. Each simply operates according to the parameters put in place by those who have constructed it.iruka , 2014-09-29 10:26:05
Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor has almost become a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true.Socialism or barbarism -- a starker choice today than when the phrase was coined.Finn_Nielsen iruka , 2014-09-29 10:44:27
So long, at least, as we have an evolved notion of what socialism entails. Which means, please, not the state capitalism + benign paternalism that it's unfortunately come to mean for most people, in the course of its parasitical relationship with capitalism proper, and so with all capitalism's inventions (the 'nation', the modern bureaucracy, ever-more-efficient exploitation to cumulatively alienating ends......)
It's just as unfortunate, in this light, that the term 'self-management' has been appropriated by the ideologues of pseudo-meritocracy, in just the way the article describes..
Because it's also a term (from the French autogestion) used to describe what I'd argue is the most nuanced and sophisticated collectivist alternative to capitalism -- an alternative that is at one and the same time a rejection of capitalism.... and of the central role of the state and 'nation' (that phony, illusory community that plays a more central role in empowering the modern state than does its monopoly on violence)... and of the ideology of growth, and of the ideal of monolithic, ruthlessly efficient economic totalities organised to this end....
It's a rejection, in other words, of all those things contemplation of which reminds us just how little fundamental difference there is between capitalism and the system cobbled together on the fly by the Bolsheviks -- same vertical organisation to the ends of the same exploitation, same exploitation to the ends of expanding the scope and scale of vertical organisation, all of it with the same destructive effects on the sociabilities of everyday life....
Self-management in this sense goes beyond 'workers control'; (I'd argue that) it envisions a society in which most aspects of life have been cut free from the ties that bind people vertically to sources of influence and control, however they're constituted (private and public bureaucracies, market pressures, the illusory narratives of nation, mass media and commodity...).
The horizontal ties of workplace and local community would thus be constitutive, by default, and society as a whole would become very little more than the sum of its parts -- mutating on a molecular local level as people collectively and democratically decided, in circumstances that actually granted them the power to do so, how to balance the conflicting needs and desires and necessities that a complex society and a complex division of labour present. 'Balance' because there really isn't any prospect of a utopian resolution of these conflicts -- they come with civilisation -- or with barbarism, for than matter, in any of its modern incarnations.
Etc. etc.. Avoiding work again.....What about those who disagree with such a radical reordering of society? How would the collective deal with those who wished to exploit it?AlbertaRabbit iruka , 2014-09-29 11:18:41
I'm genuinely interested, beats working...Catonaboat , 2014-09-29 10:26:13
The horizontal ties of workplace and local community would thus be constitutive, by default, and society as a whole would become very little more than the sum of its parts -- mutating on a molecular local level as people collectively and democratically decided, in circumstances that actually granted them the power to do so, how to balance the conflicting needs and desires and necessities that a complex society and a complex division of labour present.
Why do socialists so often resort to such turgid, impenetrable prose? Could it be an attempt to mask the vacuity of their position?I read this article skeptically, but then realised how accurately he described my workplace. Most people I know on the outside have nice middle class lives, but underneath it suffer from anxiety, about 1 not putting enough into their careers 2 not spending enough time with their kids. When I decided to cut my work hours in half when I had a child, 2 of my colleagues were genuinely concerned for me over things like, I might be let go, how would I cope with the drop in money, I was cutting my chances of promotion, how would it look in a review. The level of anxiety was frightening.Norfolk , 2014-09-29 10:26:18
People on the forum seem to be criticizing what they see as the authors flippant attitude to sexual freedom and lack of religious hold, but I see the authors point, what good are these freedoms when we are stuck in the stranglehold of no job security and huge mortgage debt. Yes you can have a quick shag with whoever you want and don't need to answer to anyone over it on a Sunday, but come Monday morning its back to the the ever sharpening grindstone.This reminds me of the world I started to work in in 1955. I accept that by 1985 it was ten times worse and by the time I retired in 2002, after 47 years, I was very glad to have what I called "survived". At its worst was the increasing difference between the knowledge base of "the boss" when technology started to kick in. I was called into the boss's office once to be criticised for the length of a report. It had a two page summery of the issue and options for resolving the problem. I very meekly inquired if he had decided on any of the options to resolve the problem. What options are you talking about? was his response, which told me that either he had not read the report or did not understand the problem. This was the least of my problems as I later had to spend two days in his office explaining the analysis we (I) were submitting to the Board.Fooster , 2014-09-29 10:26:35MissingInActon , 2014-09-29 10:27:29Ladies, step away from the jobs.
A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?Speak for yourself.Jack3 MissingInActon , 2014-09-29 11:30:37
The current economic situation affects each of us as much as we allow it to. Some may well love neo-liberalism and the concomitant dog eat dog attitude, but there are some of us who regard it as little more than a culture of self-enrichment through lies and aggression. I see it as such, and want nothing to do with it.
If you live by money and power, you'll die by money and power. I prefer to live and work with consensus and co-operation.
I'll never be rich, but I'll never have many enemies.fanofzapffe , 2014-09-29 10:28:07
I see it as such, and want nothing to do with it.
Spot on. Neither I.I have a book to promote against the 'success narrative'. I'm hoping it fails.slorter , 2014-09-29 10:30:18Hedge-fund and private-equity managers, investment bankers, corporate lawyers, management consultants, high-frequency traders, and top lobbyists.They're getting paid vast sums for their labors. Yet it seems doubtful that society is really that much better off because of what they do. They play zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another. They demand ever more cunning innovations but they create no social value. High-frequency traders who win by a thousandth of a second can reap a fortune, but society as a whole is no better off. the games consume the energies of loads of talented people who might otherwise be making real contributions to society - if not by tending to human needs or enriching our culture then by curing diseases or devising new technological breakthroughs, or helping solve some of our most intractable social problems. Robert Reich said this and I am compelled to agree with him!nishville , 2014-09-29 10:33:03Brilliant article. It is not going to change anything, of course, because majority of people of this planet would cooperate with just about any psychopath clever enough not to take away from them that last bit of stinking warm mud to wallow in.PeteCW nishville , 2014-09-29 10:38:25
Proof? Read history books and take a look around you. We are the dumbest animals on Earth.Yeah - people are stupid scum aren't they? 'Take a look around you' - wallowing in stinking warm mud all the time. Dumb animals.Finn_Nielsen PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:45:42
Elsewhere in this comment - being a clever psychopath is not nice.I'm not sure I want anything changed by those who hold humanity in contempt...petrolheadpaul nishville , 2014-09-29 11:22:14Rubbish. We are the most intelligent and successful creature that this planet has ever seen. We have become capable of transforming it, leaving it and destroying it.SpursSupporter , 2014-09-29 10:34:29
No other species has come close to any of those.richiep40 , 2014-09-29 10:35:01
Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.
I started work nearly 40 years ago and there were always some bullies in the workplace. Maybe there are more now, I don't know but I suspect it is more widely reported now. Workplace bullies were something of a given when I started work and it was an accepted part of the working environment.
Be careful about re-inventing history to suit your own arguments.I'm surprised the normalization of debt was not mentioned. If you are debt free you have more chance of making decisions that don't fit into the model.PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:35:45
So what do we do now, we train nearly 50% of our young that having large amounts of debt is perfectly normal. When I was a student I lived off the grant and had a much lower standard of living than I can see students having now, but of course I had no debt when I graduated. I know student debt is administered differently, I'm talking about the way we are training them to accept debt of all sorts.
Same applies to consumerism inducing the 'I want it and I want it now', increases personal debt, therefore forcing people to fit in, same applies to credit cards and lax personal lending.
Although occasionally there are economic questions about large amounts of personal debt, politically high personal debt is ideal.All this article proves is that you've read, and can quote from, books written by other academics that you agree with.TheKernel PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:41:36Not sure if you're in the sector, in large parts that's kind of how academia works?Sputnikchaser , 2014-09-29 10:38:33
This is also what's referred to in the trade as an opinion piece, where an author will be presenting his views and substantiating them with reference to the researches of others.
Quite simple, really.There is no mystery to neoliberalism -- it is an economic system designed to benefit the 0.1% and leave the rest of us neck deep in shit. That's why our children will be paying for the bankers' bonuses to the day they die. Let's celebrate this new found freedom with all the rest of the Tory lickspittle apologists. Yippee for moral bankruptcy -- three cheers!Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 10:39:51David Harvey wrote the best book ever written on the subject.Sidefill , 2014-09-29 10:40:51
It's only 200 pages but by god did he nail it.
The Simple Summary is the state/ royality used to hold all the power over the merchants and the public for centuries. Bit by bit the merchants stripped that power away from royality, until eventually the merchants have now taken over everybody. The merchants hold all the power now and they will never give that up as there is nobody to take it from them. By owning the state the merchants now have everything that go with it. The army, police and the laws and the media.
David Harvey puts it all under the microscope and explains in great detail how they've achieved their end game over the last 40 years.
There are millions of economists and many economic theories in our universities. Unfortunately, the merchants will only fund and advertise and support economic theories that further their power and wealth.
As history shows time and time again it will be the public who rip this power from their hands. If they don't give it up it is only a matter of time. The merchants may now own the army, the police, the laws and the parliament. They'll need all of that and more if the public decide to say enough is enough.Bullying used to be confined to schools? Can't agree with that at all. Bullying is an ingrained human tendency which manifests in many contexts, from school to work to military to politics to matters of faith. It is only bad when abused, and can help to form self-confidence.jet199 , 2014-09-29 10:42:40
I am not sure what "neo" means but liberal economics is the basis of the Western economies since the end of feudalism. Some countries have had periods of pronounced social democracy or even socialism but most of western Europe has reverted to the capitalist model and much of the former east bloc is turning to it. As others have noted in the CiF, this does not preclude social policies designed to alleviate the unfair effects of the liberal economies.
But this ship has sailed in other words, the treaties which founded the EU make it clear the system is based on Adam Smith-type free market thinking. (Short of leaving the EU I don't see how that can be changed in its essentials).
Finally, socialist countries require much more conformity of individuals than capitalist ones. So you have to look at the alternatives, which this article does not from what I could see.To be honest I don't think Neoliberalism has made much of a difference in the UK where personal responsibility has always been king. In the Victorian age people were quite happy to have people staving to death on the streets and before that people's problems were usually seen as either their own fault or an act of God (which would also be your own fault due to sin). If anything we are kinder to strangers now, than we have been, but are slipping back into our old habits.ForgottenVoice jet199 , 2014-09-29 10:46:38
I think the best way to combat extreme liberalism is to be knowing about our culture and realise that liberalism is something which is embedded in British culture and is not something imposed on us from else where or by some -ism. It is strengthen not just by politics but also by language and the way we deal with personal and social issues in our own lives. We also need to acknowledge that we get both good and bad things out of living in a liberal society but that doesn't mean we have to put up with the bad stuff. We can put measures in place to prevent the bad stuff and still enjoy the positives even though some capitalists may throw their toys out of the pram.Personal responsibility is EXACTLY what neoliberalism avoids, even as it advocates it with every breath.dairymaid jet199 , 2014-09-29 11:37:13
What it means is that you get as much responsibility as you can afford to foist onto someone else, so a very wealthy person gets none at all. It's always someone else's fault.
Neoliberalism has actually undermined personal responsibility at every single step, delegating it according to wealth or perceived worth.If Liberalism is the mindset of the British how come we created the NHS, Legal Aid, universal education and social security? These were massive achievements of a post war generation and about as far removed from today's evil shyster politics as it is possible to be.NaturalOutswing , 2014-09-29 10:43:32"Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens"gjjwatson , 2014-09-29 10:46:23
What to people mean when they use the word "society" in this context?When we stopped having jobs and had careers instead, the rot set in. A career is the promotion of the self and a job the means to realise that goal at the expense of everyone else around you.RamjetMan gjjwatson , 2014-09-29 10:53:56
The description of psychopathic behaviour perfectly describes a former boss of mine (female). I liked her but knew how dangerous she was. She went easy on me because she knew that I could do the job that she would claim credit for.
The pressure and stress of, for example open plan offices and evaluation reports are all part of the conscious effort on behalf of employers to ensure compliance with this poisonous attitude.
The greatest promoter of this philosophy is the Media, step forward Evan Davies, the slobbering lap dog of the rich and powerful.
On the positive side I detect a growing realisation among normal people of the folly of this worldview.Self promoters are generally psychopaths who don't have any empathy for the people around them who carry them everyday and make them look good. We call these people show bags. Full of shit and you have to carry them all the time....anorak , 2014-09-29 10:46:37No shit Sherlock. Did you get a grant for this extensive research?ID8665572 , 2014-09-29 10:49:43"meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others..."Martyn Blackburn , 2014-09-29 10:50:06
I put to you the simple premsie that you can substitute "meritocratic neoliberalism" with any political system (communism, fascism, social democracy even) and it the same truism would emerge."Neoliberalism promotes individual freedom, limited government, and deregulation of the economy...whilst individual freedom is a laudable idea, neoliberalism taken to a dogmatic extreme can be used to justify exploitation of the less powerful and pillaging of the natural environment." - Don Ambrose.ForgottenVoice , 2014-09-29 10:50:10
Contrast with this:
"Neoliberal democracy, with its notion of the market uber alles ...instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralised and socially powerless." - Robert W. McChesney in Profit over People, Noam Chomsky.
It is fairly clear that the neoliberal system is designed to exploit the less powerfull when it becomes dogmatic, and that is exactly what it has become: beaurocracy, deregulation, privatisation, and government power .Neoliberalism is a virus that destroys people's power of reason and replaces it with extra greed and self entitlement. Until it is kicked back to the insane asylum it came from it will only keep trying to make us it's indentured labourers. The only creeds more vile were Nazism and Apartheid. Eventually the neoliberals will kill us all, so they can have the freedom to have everything they think they're worth.pagey23 , 2014-09-29 10:50:48Liberal Socialism is what we have, how is 45% of the economy run by government and a 1 trillion pound debt economic liberalismRamjetMan pagey23 , 2014-09-29 10:57:08Yes we have big government and a finance system which prop each other up. Why it's called neoliberalism is beyond me.MSP1984 , 2014-09-29 10:51:35Sandra Mae , 2014-09-29 10:52:53
Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.
Isn't a key feature of neo-liberalism that governments de-regulate? It seems you're willing to blame absolutely everything on neoliberalism, even those things that neoliberalism ostensibly opposes.The Professor is correct. We have crafted a nightmare of a society where what is considered good is often to the detriment of the whole community. It is reflected in our TV shows of choice, Survivor, Big Brother, voting off the weakest or the greatest rival. A half a million bucks for being the meanest most sociopathic person in the group, what great entertainment.Jem Bo , 2014-09-29 10:53:35articulateness - not much fluency in a sentence when using that word is there?Choller21 Jem Bo , 2014-09-29 10:58:30Articulocity.illeist , 2014-09-29 10:54:39Always a treat to read your articles, Mr Verhaeghe; well written and supported with examples and external good links. I especially like the link to Hare's site which is a rich resource of information and current discussions and presentations on the subject.Jack3 illeist , 2014-09-29 11:54:12
The rise of the psychopath in society has been noted for some time, as have the consequences of this behaviour in wider society and and a growing indifference and increased tolerance for this behaviour.
But what are practical solutions? MRI brain scans and early intervention? We know that behaviour modification does not work, we know that antipsychotic and other psychiatric medication does not alter this behaviour, we know little of genetic causes or if diet and nutrition play a role.
Maybe it is because successful psychopaths leverage themselves into positions of influence and power and reduce the voice, choices and influence of their victims that psychopathy has become such an unsolvable problem, or at least a problem that has been removed from the stage of awareness. It is so much easier to see the social consequences of psychopathy than it is to see the causal activity of psychopaths themselves.To deal with this problem is the most urgent and crucial for humanity if we hope for any future at all.dr8765 , 2014-09-29 10:54:46Great article. Thanks.tufsoft , 2014-09-29 11:00:33People are pretty much bound to behave this way when you replace the family with the individual as the primary unit of societyquark007 , 2014-09-29 11:02:51Neoliberalism has entered centre stage politics not as a solution, it is just socialism with a crowd pleasing face. What could the labour party do to get voted in when the leadership consisted of self professed intellectuals in Donkey Jackets which they wore to patronise the working classes. Like the animal reflected in the name they became a laughing stock. Nobody understood their language or cared for it. The people who could understand it claimed that it was full of irrelevant hyperbole and patronising sentiment.gman1 , 2014-09-29 11:05:43
It still is but with nice sounding buzz words and an endless sound bites, the face of politics has been transformed into a hollow shell. Neither of the party's faithful are happy with their leaders. They have become centre stage by understanding process more than substance. As long as your face fits, a person has every chance of success. Real merit on the other hand is either sadly lacking or non existant.banxters blah blahLargeMarvin , 2014-09-29 11:06:40As one who was a working class history graduate in 1970, this is not exactly news.Andyz , 2014-09-29 11:08:13Most people's personalities and behaviour are environment driven, they are moulded by the social context in which they find themselves. The system we currently inhabit is one which is constructed on behalf of the holders of capital, it is a construct of the need to create wealth through interest bearing debt.Finn_Nielsen Andyz , 2014-09-29 11:13:15
The values of this civilisation are consumer ones, we validate and actualise ourselves through ownership of goods, and also the middle-class norms of family life, which are in and of themselves constructs of a liberal consumer based society.
We pride ourselves on tolerance, which is just veiled indifference to anything which we feel as no importance to our own desires. People are becoming automatons, directed through media devices and advertising, and also the implanted desires which the consumer society needs us to act upon to maintain the current system of economy.
None of this can of course survive indefinitely, hence the constant state of underlying anxiety within society as it ploughs along on this suicidal route.WAKE UP SHEEPLEFence2 , 2014-09-29 11:09:28Good article, however I would just like to add that the new breed of 'business psychopath' you allude to are fairly easy to spot these days, and as such more people are aware of them, so they could be displaced quite soon, hopefully.regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:10:22Cameron and the Conservatives have long been condemning the lazy and feckless at the bottom of society, but has Cameron ever looked at his aristocratic in-laws.colddebtmountain , 2014-09-29 11:12:39
His father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, can be checked out on Wikipedia.
His only work seems to have been eight years as a conservative councillor (lazy).
He is a member of three clubs, so he likes to go pissing it up with his rich friends (feckless).
This seems to be total sum of his life's achievements.
He also gets Government subsidies for wind turbines on his land (on benefits).
His estate has been in the family since the 16th Century and the family have probably done very little since, yet we worry about the lower classes having two generations without work, in the upper classes this can go on for centuries.
Wasters don't just exist at the bottom of society.
Mr. Cameron have a closer look at your aristocratic in-laws.regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:13:44
This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.
Fundamentally the whole concept is saying "real talent is to be hunted down since, if you do not destroy it, it will destroy you". As a result we have a whole army of useless twats in high positions with not an independent thought between them. The concept of the old boys network has really taken over except now the members are any mental age from zero upwards.
And then we wonder why nothing is done prperly these days....If you want to get into this in a bit more depth:yoghurt2 , 2014-09-29 11:14:19
"Status Anxiety" by Alain de Botton is worth a read.
Also, a better insight into the psychopaths amongst us, including bankers, can be gained from Robert Hare's book:
"Without Conscience"Neoliberalism is fine in some areas of self-development and actualization of potential, but taken as a kind of religion or as the be-all and end-all it is a manifest failure. For a start it neglects to acknowledge what people have in common, the idea of shared values, the notion of society, the effects of synergy and the geo-biological fact that we are one species all inhabiting the same single planet, a planet that is uniquely adapted to ourselves, and to which we are uniquely adapted.undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:14:37
Generally it works on the micro-scale to free up initiative, but on the macro-scale it is hugely destructive, since its goals are not the welfare of the entire human race and the planet but something far more self-interested.undersinged undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:18:55This is inevitable. All societies have this property. A warrior society rewards brave fighters and inspiring leaders, while punishing weaklings and cowards. A theocracy rewards those who display piety and knowledge of religious tradition, and punishes skeptics and taboo-breakers. Tyrannies reward cunning, ruthless schemers while punishing the squeamish and naive. Bureaucratic societies reward pernickety types who love rules and regulationsn, and punish those who are careless of jots and tittles. And so on.
I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.
It does. In fact, it does in all societies to some extent, even societies that strive to be egalitarian, and societies that try to restrict social mobility by imposing a rigid caste system. There are always individuals who fall or rise through society as a result of their abilities or lack thereof. The freer society is, the more this happens.
A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents
Straw man. Even anarchists don't believe in completely unrestricted choice, let alone neoliberals. Neoliberalism accepts that people are inevitably limited by their abilities and their situation. Personal responsibility does not depend on complete freedom. It depends on there being some freedom. If you have enough freedom to make good or bad choices, then you have personal responsibility.
For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom.
The idea of the perfectible individual has nothing to do with neoliberalism. On the other hand, it is one of the central pillars of Marxism. In philosophy, Marx is noted as an example of thinker who follows a perfectionist ethical theory.
Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.One more: Socialist societies reward lazy and feckless people, and punish strivers who display initiative.gjjwatson undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:22:15You miss the point. Neoliberalism promotes negative values and is used consciously to control personal freedom and undermine positive individuality.Vanillaicetea undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:39:22An excellent demolition of this piece of whiny idiocy.variation31 , 2014-09-29 11:16:27A frightening article, detailing now the psychological strenngths of people are recruited, perverted and rotted by this rat-race ethic.66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:16:34
Ironic that the photo, of Canary Wharf, shows one of the biggest "socialist" gifts of the country (was paid largely by the British taxpayer, if memory serves me correctly, and more or less gifted to the merchant bankers by Thatcher).Meritocratic neoliberalism; superficial articulateness which I used to call 'the gift of the gab'. In my job, I was told to be 'extrovert' and I bucked against this, as a prejudice against anyone with a different personality and people wanting CLONES. Not sensible people, or people that could do a job, but a clone; setting the system up for a specific type of person as stated above. Those who quickly tell you, you are wrong. Those that make you think perhaps you are, owing to their confidence. Until your quietness proves them to be totally incorrect, and their naff confidence demonstrates the falseness of what they state.JonPurrtree 66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:17:25I call it the bullshit based economy.undersinged JonPurrtree , 2014-09-29 11:23:55Most of the richest people in the world are not bullshitters. There are some, to be sure, but the majority are either technical or financial engineers of genius, and they've made their fortune through those skills, rather than through bullshit.JonPurrtree undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:30:52Plenty of bullshit keeping companies afloat.66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:19:11
Apart from tetra brik. Thats a useful product.Hague lied to the camera about GCHQ having permission to access anyone's electronic devices. He did not blush, he merely stated that a warrant was required. Only the night before we were shown a letter from GCHQ stating that they had access without any warrant.undersinged 66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 17:34:47
The ability to LIE has become a VIRTUE that all of us could well LIVE WITHOUT.regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:19:34That's not new. It has been widely held that rulers have a right (and sometimes a duty) to lie ever since Machiavelli's Prince was published some 500 years ago.
The ability to LIE has become a VIRTUEThe thinking behind our age was covered in a three part BBC documentary "The Trap".seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:26:02
It was made in 2006, before the financial crisis.
Why was Iraq such a disaster?
Find out in Part 3.RaymondDance seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:45:35
The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference.
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose.
-Janice JoplinLargeMarvin seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 14:46:09
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose.
Kris Kristofferson actually,Actually it was written by Kris Kristofferson and, having a house, a job pension and an Old Age Pension, frankly, I disagree. The Grateful Dead version is better anyway.mjhunbeliever seamuspadraig , 2014-09-30 15:46:19This little video may throw some light on that for you, Paradox of Choice.dr8765 , 2014-09-29 11:26:23seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:28:28
.... economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities.
I have long thought that introverts are being marginalised in our society. Being introvert seems to be seen by some as almost an illness, by others as virtually a crime.
Not keen on attending that "team bonding" weekend? There must be something wrong with you. Unwilling to set out your life online for all to see? What have you got to hide?
A few very driven and talented introverts have managed to find a niche in the world of IT and computers, earnig fortunes from their bedrooms. But for most, being unwilling or unable to scream their demands and desires across a crowded room is interpreted as "not trying" or being not worth listening to.Monchberter , 2014-09-29 11:30:05
It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.
Perfectly describes our new ruling-class, doesn't it!Neoliberalism:Trilbey Monchberter , 2014-09-29 12:32:14
'Get on', or get f*****d.
Be hard working, or be dispensable.Does neoliberalism = fascism = brutality?Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:30:29illogicalcaptain , 2014-09-29 11:33:08
It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.
Sounds like a perfect description of newspaper columnists to me.It's just the general spirit of the place: it's on such a downer and no amount of theorising and talking will ever solve anything. There isn't a good feeling about this country anymore just a lot of tying everyone up in in repressive knots with a lot of hooey like talk and put downs. We need to find freedom again or maybe shove all the pricks into one part of the country and leave them there to fuck each other over so the rest of us can create a new world free of bullcrap. I don't know. Place is a superficial mess: 'look at me; look at what I own; I can cook Coq Au Vin and drink bottles of expensive plonk and keep ten cars on my driveway'chriskilby , 2014-09-29 11:33:17
Nah. Fortuneately there are still some decent people left but it's been like Hamlet now for quite some time - "show me an honest man and I'll show you one man in ten thousand" Sucks.So it's official. We are ruled by psychopaths. Figures.Trilbey chriskilby , 2014-09-29 12:35:58Perhaps I can help out. There's some good research here:Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 11:33:31
Are CEOs and Entrepreneurs psychopaths? Multiple studies say "Yes
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/drishtikone/2013/10/are-ceos-and-entrepreneurs-psychopaths-multiple-studies-say-yes/This article is spot on and reflects Karl Marx's analysis regarding the economic base informing and determining the superstructure of a given society, that is, its social, cultural aspects. A neo-liberal, monetarist economy will shape and influence social and work relationships in ways that are not beneficial for the many but as the commentator states, will benefit those possessed of certain thrusting,domineering character traits. The common use of the word "loser" in contemporary society to describe those who haven't "succeeded" financially is in itself telling.Trilbey Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 12:37:59Some people are brave enough to buck the system, I'm not, I just keep going to work everyday to get slaughtered.LargeMarvin Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 14:48:16Freud's model of the mind is pretty good too, though psychoanalysis itself is controversial. The Krel forgot one thing.................qwertboi , 2014-09-29 11:34:29What an incisive article!Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 11:35:37
It would be the perfect first chapter (foreword/introduction) in a best seller that goes on, chapter by chapter, to show that neoliberalism destroys everything it touches:
transactions and trade;
Etc., etc., etc..
trust;This analysis can be found in Marx's critique of the economy published in 1859.lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 11:36:17James Meek seems to have nailed it in his recent book, where he pointed out that the socially conservative Thatcher, who wanted a society based on good old fashioned values, helped to create the precise opposite with her enthusiasm for the neoliberal model. Now we are sinking into a dog-eat-dog dystopia.Trilbey lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 12:53:48Many of the good old fashioned conservatives had time honoured values. They believed in taking care of yourself but they also believed in integrity and honesty. They believed in living modestly and would save much of their money rather than just spend it, and so would put some aside for a rainy day. They believed in the community and were often active about local issues. They cared about the countryside and the wildlife. They often recycled which went along with their thriftiness and hatred of waste.LargeMarvin lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 14:49:34
This all vanished when Thatcher came in with her selfish 'greed is good' brigade. Loads of money!Even shampoo and sets have not come back, though unfortunately slickbacks have.PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 11:36:31freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 11:38:34
We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance –
Oh, wait, now I'm sad.... Damn it.There is nothing "neo" nor "liberal" about neoliberalism. It is a cover for corporations and the wealthy elite to get more corporate welfare .PonyBoyUK freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 12:28:59Take what you do, define it in a word or two and then use the most concise antonym. - That is what you will tell the public.LargeMarvin freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 14:50:47
State-protected oligopolies = "The Free Market"
Aggressive wars on civilian populations = "The war on Terror" / "The Ministry of Defence"
Age-old economic oppression = "Neoliberal economics"
Public Manipulation = "Public Relations"
Political Oppression = "Democracy"In practice yes, but on the theoretical level the title is valid. It is the resurrection of policies from the 1860s.Toeparty , 2014-09-29 11:38:44Capitalist alienation is a daily practise. The daily practise of competing with and using people. This gives rise to the ideology that society and other people are but a means to an end rather than an end in themselves that is of course when they are not a frightening a existential competitive threat. Contempt and fear. That is what we are reduced to by the buying and selling of labour power and yes, only a psychopath can thrive under such conditions.Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:42:49According to the left if your only ambition is to watch Jeremy Kyle, pick up a welfare cheque once a week and vote for which ever party will promise to give you Ł10 a week more in welfare: you're an almost saint like figure.Raymond Ashworth Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:49:07
If you actually do something to try to create a better and more independent life for yourself, your family and your community: you're "displaying psychopathic tendencies" .Strawman.Themiddlegound Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:49:49If you actually do something to try to create a better and more independent life for yourself, your family and your community: you're "displaying psychopathic tendencies".RaymondDance Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:54:25
So how do you create a better community ?
By paying your taxes on your wealth that so many of you try to avoid. Here lies the crux of the matter. There would be no deficit if taxes were paid.
Some of the rich are so psychpathic they think jsut because they employ people they shouldn't pay any tax. They think the employees should pay thier tax for them.
Why has tax become such a dirty word ? Think about it before you answer.Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:45:14
There would be no deficit if taxes were paid.
Of course there would.I've studied neoliberalism for nearly 20 years.RaymondDance Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:53:29
The conclusion is for me is that it is a brilliant economic model. It is the sheer apathy of the voters and that they are cowards because they don't make it work for them. They allow the people who own the theory to run it for themselves and thus they get all the benefits from it.
I'll try and explain.
Their business plan.
The truth is neoliberalism has infact made the rich western countries poorer and helped so many other poorer countries around the world get richer. Let's face facts here giving to charities would never have achieved this and something needed to be done to even up this world inequality. The only way you are ever going to achieve world peace is if everybody is equal. It's not by chance this theory was introduced by America. They are trying to bring that equality to everyone so that world peace can be achieved. How many more illegal wars and deaths this will take and for how long nobody knows. They are also very sinister and selfish and greedy because if the Americans do achieve what they are trying to do. They will own and countrol the world via washington and the dollar. The way the Americans see it is that the inequality created within each country is a bribe to each power structure within that country which helps America achieve it's long term goals. It creates inequality within each country but at the same time creates equality on the world stage. It might take 100 years to achieve and millions of deaths but eventually every country will be another state of America and look and act like any American state. Once that is achieved world peace will follow. America see it as a war and they also see millions of deaths as acceptable to achieve their end game. I of course disagree there must be a better way. How will history look at this dark period in history in 300 years time if it does achieve world peace in 150 years time ?
In each country neoliberalism works but at the moment it only works for the few because the voters allow it. The voters allow them to get away with it through submission. They've allowed their parliaments to be taken over without a fight and allowed their brains to be brainwashed by the media controlled by the few. Which means the the whole story of neoliberalism has been skewed into a very narrow view which always suits and promotes the voices of the few.
Why did the voters allow that to happen ?
Their biggest success the few had over the many was to create an illusion that made tax a toxic word. They attacked tax with everything they had to form an illusion in the voters minds that paying tax was a bad thing and it was everybodys enemy. Then they passed laws to enhance that view and trotted out scare stories around tax and that if they had to pay it then everybody would leave that country. They created a world set up for them and ulitimately destroyed any chance at all, for the success of neoliberalism to be shared by the many. This was their biggest success to make sure the wealth of neoliberalism stayed with them.
As the author of this piece says quite clearly. "An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities"
One of these traits is that they believe they shouldn't pay tax because they are creating jobs and the tax their employees pay should be the amount of tax these companies pay. Again this makes sure that the wealth is not shared.
Since they now own and control parliaments they also use the state to pay these wages in the way of tax credits and subsidies and grants as they refuse to pay their employees a living wage. It is our taxes they use to do this. Again this is to make sure that the wealth is not shared.
There are too many examples to list of how they make sure that the wealth generated by neoliberalism is not shared. Then surely it is up to the voters to make sure it does. Neoliberalism works and it would work for everybody if the voters would just grow a set of balls. Tax avoidance was the battle that won the war for the few. It is time the voters revisited that battle and re write it so that the outcome was that the many won not just the few. For example there would be no deficit if the many had won that battle. Of course they wouldn't have left a market of 60 million people with money in their pockets, it would have been business suicide.
This is a great example of how they created an illusion, a false culture, a world that does not exist. The focus is all on the deficit and how to fix it, as they socialise the losses and privatise the profits. There is no eyes or light shed on why there is a deficit due to tax avoidance. It's time we changed that and made Neoliberlaism work for us. If we don't then we can't complain when it only works for the few.
Neoliberlaism works. It's about time we owned it for ourselves. Otherwise we'll always be slaves to it. It's not the theory that is corrupt it is the people who own it.dr8765 Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 12:02:36
There is no eyes or light shed on why there is a deficit due to tax avoidance.
... or because politicians have discovered that you can buy votes by giving handouts even to those who don't need them, thereby making everyone dependent on the largesse of the state and, by extension, promoting the interests of the most irresponsible politicians and the bureaucracies they represent.You seem to regard what you call neoliberalism as a creator of wealth. You then claim that the reason for this wealth accruing almost entirely to an elite few is the "the voters" have prevented neoliberalism from distributing the wealth more equitably.Themiddlegound RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 12:03:10
I can't really follow the logic of your argument.
Neoliberalism seems to be working perfectly for those few who are in a position to exploit it. It's doing what it's designed to do.
I agree that the ignorance of "the voters" is allowing the elite to get away with it. But the voters should be voting for those who propose an alternative economic model. Unfortunately, in the western world at the present time, they have no viable alternative to vote for, because the neoliberals have captured all of the mainstream political parties and institutions.That's all fine and dandy and I agree.foralltime , 2014-09-29 11:46:59
However, you missed one of the main points. Our parliament has been taken over by the few.
One man used to and probably still does strike fear into the government. Murdoch. Problem is there are millions like him that lobby and control policy and the media...."There are regulations about everything,"... Yes, but higher up the scale you go, the less this regulation is enforced, less individual accountability and less transparency. Neoliberalism has turned society on its head. We see ever growing corporate socialism subsidising the top 1% and heavily regulated hard nosed market capitalism for the rest of us resulting in massive inequality in wealth distribution. This inequality by design makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. We've created a society where people who were once valued as an individual part of that society are now treated as surplus to requirements and somehow need to be eliminated.RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 11:50:02LargeMarvin RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 14:54:59
Bullying used to be confined to schools
Blimey - and people like this constantly accuse conservatives of being nostalgic for a past that never existed.Fair comment. I went to a grammar school where there was, luckily, very little bullying. The bullying happened when I got back to the 'hood.zavaell , 2014-09-29 11:51:37All I know is that when I read the comments on cif, I cannot believe that these are people who would be expected to read the Guardian.RaymondDance zavaell , 2014-09-29 11:56:26busyteacher zavaell , 2014-09-29 12:23:12
I cannot believe that these are people who would be expected to read the Guardian.
One of the best things about cif is that it allows a wider audience to see just how deluded and narcissistic Guardian readers are.They're mostly tight g*ts who refuse to pay to use the Mail/Telegraph sites. This is just about the last free forum left now and it's attracting all kinds of undesirables. The level of personal insult has gone up enormously since they came here. Most of us traditional Ciffers don't bother with many posts here any more, it's too boring now.LargeMarvin zavaell , 2014-09-29 14:55:44It's called Revenge of the Killer Clerks.WarwickC , 2014-09-29 11:53:18Stephen Porter WarwickC , 2014-09-29 12:34:35
Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves.
That's always been the way, I think. It's life.
We are all of us the descendants of a million generations of successful organisms, human and pre-human.
The ones that didn't succeed fel by the wayside.
We're the ones left to tell the tale.We're the ones left to tell the tale"EstebanMurphy WarwickC , 2014-09-29 13:14:33
and what a tale it will be for the last human standing!
That's always been th
Sep 29, 2014 | www.theguardian.com
An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities
'We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited.' Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.
There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won't really be noticed.
It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.
On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.
This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.
Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.
Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the "infantilisation of the workers". Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities ("She got a new office chair and I didn't"), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.
More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.
Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.
A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.
The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.
Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?
There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy
- Sick of this market-driven world? You should be George Monbiot George Monbiot: The self-serving con of neoliberalism is that it has eroded the human values the market was supposed to emancipate 5 Aug 2014 1,877
- Neoliberalism has spawned a financial elite who hold governments to ransom Deborah Orr 8 Jun 2013 400
- Who's in control – nation states or global corporations? Gary Younge 2 Jun 2014 767
- Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order? Slavoj Žižek 6 May 2014 454
- If you think we're done with neoliberalism, think again George Monbiot 14 Jan 2013 797
Global consulting firm Accenture announced it is making a bold move this fall: It's eliminating annual performance reviews.
What's that you hear? It's the collective sigh of relief coming from the company's 330,000 employees. Along with the performance review system, Accenture is also disbanding its rankings system, a common way of comparing employees to one another based on their performance. Rather than having managers rank and review workers once per year, the new initiative - called Performance Achievement - calls for informal reviews that can be given at the manager's discretion, for example, after a worker has completed a specific project.
"It's huge," Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme told the Washington Post. "We're going to get rid of probably 90% of what we did in the past."
With this announcement, Accenture is following in the footsteps of another major employer, Microsoft, which got rid of its ranking system in 2013. So far, they are in the minority. In a recent survey of 100 Fortune 500 CEOs, only six said they had eliminated their rankings system, according to management research firm CEB.
Criticism of performance reviews is ubiquitous among academics who study workplace management. Their main pain points: the system wastes time and money, alienates employees, and is all-in-all redundant, since any good manager is already keeping an eye on employee performance without a system in place. A whopping 95% of managers said they are dissatisfied with their performance review process, according to a 2014 survey of 10,000 workers, also conducted by CEB. Nearly 60% of employees said they felt reviews weren't worth their time. CEB also estimates that for a big company with more than 10,000 workers, annual reviews can easily cost upwards of $35 million with less than stellar results. Ninety percent of HR professionals surveyed by the firm said they did not feel performance review results painted an accurate picture of workplace productivity.
Part of the problem seems to be that although many people agree that reviews and rankings could be a lot more effective, no one has quite been able to come up with a better alternative yet. Some companies have made public their efforts to tinker with their management systems, including Gap, ConAgra, and Adobe. The Gap, for example, asks managers to have monthly conversations with workers. Google relies on quarterly reviews, as well, using a system called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that asks employees to set measurable goals for themselves and post them on an internal network visible to all workers. Yahoo Finance's parent company Yahoo has a similar quarterly performance review system -- employees set quarterly goals that are made public within the company.
Accenture says it is in the early stages of rolling out the new review process (set to launch in September).
"Accenture is on a journey to redefine performance management in order to strengthen how we develop and grow our people," Stacey Jones, an Accenture spokesperson, told Yahoo Finance. The new system is intended to give workers more opportunities to get feedback from managers and coaching to improve their performance. The new system will still be used to inform decisions made about compensation and promotions, Jones added.
Cumbersome as they may be, however, some workers look forward to one-on-one time with their bosses for one particular reason: a means to a (financial) end. Without a structured process for reviews and meetings with managers to discuss them, workers will have to be more proactive if they want argue for a pay bump or a promotion.
My department must hold the record for the company's fastest revolving door. In less than a year, we've been re-orged three times. I've had four different managers, and every new person who comes in wants to 'mark his territory.' Meanwhile, none of these people know as much about my area as I do, so their guidance is useless. Plus, I'm changing direction so much I never get anything done. What is it they say-same sh*t different day? If I have to be 'rah rah' at yet another welcome lunch, I think I'm going to explode.
Robert, 27, Oregon
If you're reading this chapter because you're struggling with someone's attitude problem at work, you're not alone, and your hostility is probably justified. I've spoken to dozens of twenty-somethings, and most have spent their fair share of time banging their heads against the wall and regretting the day they signed their offer letters.
As much as I feel your pain, I don't believe it does much good to complain, because unless you're going to grad school or can successfully start your own business, you're in the corporate world to stay. We all have to deal with business-world insanity whether we love our jobs or not, so we might as well take the necessary steps to overcome the challenges. However, because this chapter is about your emotional well-being, we need to start by recognizing the things about work that drive us nuts. Most of these points will probably sound familiar, so read on and be comforted. Warning: Do not hang this list in your cube!
Top 10 Annoying Things About the Corporate World
- Corporate Déjŕ Vu. It seems as though it's a requirement in corporate business that you spend huge amounts of time reporting the same information in a dozen different formats, attending status meetings where conversation from the week before is repeated word for word, and putting out the same fires, because your department doesn't learn from its mistakes.
- Invoking Syndrome. The invoking syndrome occurs when colleagues try to persuade you to do what they want by name-dropping someone higher up. Whether the executive manager was actually involved or not, invoking him is a manipulative tactic used to get you to bend to your colleagues' wishes (for example, "Really? Well, I spoke to the CEO last night, and he told me we have to do the event this way.")
- Egomania. When certain people reach a high level in a company, they think that they are better than everyone else and that they are entitled to be treated like a god. Regardless of the issue, they believe they are always right and that they can't possibly learn anything from someone lower on the chain.
- Hierarchies. In the corporate world, all men are not created equal, and sometimes you can actually get in trouble just by talking to someone higher up without going through the proper channels. Unless you happen to know the right people, you're invisible.
- Denigration. In some companies, it's an unspoken rule that the younger you are, the less respect you receive. Many senior managers are quick to call you on the carpet for situations that may or may not be your fault, but they say nothing when you've done superior work.
- Bureaucracy. How many departments does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Corporate business has a lengthy approval process for everything, and companies delight in changing those processes constantly so that you're never sure which 10 departments you need to consult before a decision can be made.
- Hypocrisy. Don't you just love the way some companies tout values such as quality, entrepreneurship, innovation, and integrity, when they would be perfectly happy if their employees just kept quiet and never strayed from their designated roles? If you've ever acted on your company's values and gotten burned for it, you are probably a victim of naked ambition (when doing what's best for the company leaves you out in the cold).
- Micromanagement. Twenty-somethings thrive on independence, yet some managers will bear down on you with critical eyes at every minuscule stage of a project. Gotta sneeze? Better make sure your manager knows about it.
- Uncommon Sense. I've read that common sense is dead in the corporate world. The author almost sounded proud of this. People might make a joke of it, but this dearth of logical thought in corporate business is kind of sad. It's also frustrating when the obviously correct way to do something is staring everyone right in the face, and no one sees it.
- Nonsensical Change. Every now and then, companies will decide to throw their departments up in the air and see where all the pieces land. Yes, it's the corporate reorganization (aka the dreaded re-org). Despite the fact that it results in mass confusion, greatly decreased productivity, and low employee morale, companies continue to do it year after year.
Weigh Your Options
"It may be giving you a true picture, but not something you want to hear," Phillips says.
It may be tempting to simply quit and look for a new job, but Phillips urges caution. It could be that you will need to find a new position -- if, for example, you have tried everything but just aren't clicking with your boss, or you have had more than one bad review. But rather than quitting immediately, it's often better to try to address the issues your boss has raised first.
"If you overreact to it, it actually ends up being harder in the long run," Phillips says. Your unhappiness about the review is likely to come through when you're interviewing for new positions. "It takes you longer to find another job, because you're out there maybe feeling a little resentful," he says.
Here's What You did right in this conversation. (1) You asked for advice, which flatters the potential advice giver. (2) You didn't bombard him/her with additional questions. You asked an open-ended question that gave the other person wide latitude in how to respond. (3) You got the advice giver to point out problems; but more important strategically, you got him or her to partner with you in working on the problem. You moved the advice giver into your corner as a helper/facilitator. (4) Finally, you didn't become a pain in the ass by dwelling on the subject. You moved on, allowing the supervising attorney to do the same.
... ... ...
Some of the changes in this article may feel ill-fitting the first few weeks you try them; but none of them-smiling more, saying "thank you" when appropriate, controlling your negative emotions-will seriously compromise your individuality.
Assess your boss's power to affect your life. Getting a good review is essentially about pleasing your boss. Whether it's important to please your boss depends upon your goals. If you want her to promote you or expand your responsibilities, then pleasing your manager is very important, even if she's a complete idiot. But if you are planning to quit in the next few months, her opinion may not really matter (and you don't need to read the rest of this). If your future is at stake, however, then you need to handle this interaction well.
Avoid knee-jerk emotional reactions. Your manager probably expects you to become defensive, argumentative, or upset, so surprise him by remaining calm and reasonable. Getting angry or sobbing uncontrollably will accomplish nothing.
Listen to the reasons. Even though you may not agree, you need to understand why your performance was viewed negatively. By understanding your manager's view, you will be in a better position to change her perceptions in the future.
Ask questions to clarify. You can't change your boss's opinion unless you understand exactly why he is unhappy. Therefore, you must explore any feedback that is not clear. However, the questions you ask must be phrased positively. Bad question: "How did you come to such a stupid conclusion?" Good question: "What could I have done to prevent the problem?"
Focus on the future. Avoid getting sucked into pointless debates about past events. Discussing the past is only useful if it helps to clarify future expectations. Here's a future-focused question that can short-circuit debates about past problems: "What specifically can I do differently this year to get a better review next year?"
Present your views calmly and logically. You do not have to sit back and take criticism that you feel is undeserved. But you should offer dissenting opinions in a calm, adult manner, focusing on facts and observations. Angry, emotional reactions will only reinforce your boss's negative view.
... ... ...
- Stay calm and remember to take notes during the review process. It will help you evaluate your options later.
- Give yourself a few days to process the criticism and then call a follow up meeting with the boss to discuss next steps.
- Think hard about the reason behind the negative review and decide if it is something you can fix, or if it's a sign that it's time to move on.
... ... ...
Step 4 Pay attention to your responses. Try not to appear nervous. Remain calm and collected with your behavior. Show a genuine interest in what your employer is saying. Don't disagree with what they say. Instead, try to respond by accepting that you made a mistake and that you would like to be given another chance to improve and learn from that mistake. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that most performance reviews are political and subjective. Be open-minded and considerate of your employer's thoughts and concerns.
Step 5 Avoid an argumentative conversation and tone with your employer. Even if you are angry or feel attacked by what she is saying, keep a professional posture. The University of California Berkeley states that most employers are prepared to handle your response to tough questions and, in some cases, expect you to get confrontational. No matter how heated the conversation is, avoid a harsh rebuttal. Avoid getting angry or blaming your problems on other employees or personal circumstances. ....
... ... ...
... how much emphasis do you put on those areas during a performance review?
Maybe instead of working on our weaknesses, we should be enhancing and exploiting our strengths? What if the price for working on weakness (and who even decides what is and isn't a "weakness"?) is less chance to be f'n amazing?
There are several books out about this, although I haven't read them -- but the idea gets my attention:
Teach With Your Strengths, which says on its Amazon page,
"Defying the orthodoxy that teachers, to be more well rounded, should work to strengthen their weaknesses, this book, drawing on research by the Gallup Organization, maintains that great teachers are those who teach with their greatest talents and abilities."
That book is an expansion of the ultra best-selling Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. I don't know if the books are actually good, but again, it's the idea I enthusiastically support.
Too many companies (and managers, spouses, etc.) focus too much on bringing everyone up to some level of competency in a laundry-list of attributes including time-management, communication skills, writing ability, filling out TPS reports, teamwork/teamplayer, attitude, organization, sensitivity, adhering to corporate goals and policies, etc. Clearly, there is some minimum threshold for each attribute beneath which a person might be impossible to work with no matter what the situation. But too often those minimum thresholds are set MUCH TOO HIGH and not specifically tailored enough to the individual.
By focusing on "areas of improvement", we're putting a square peg in a round hole. What do we end up with? A crappy, rounded off peg who meets the minimum thresholds at the expense of their most kick-ass attributes. What if let ourselves (and those we manage) spend a lot more energy in the areas where we are--or could be--amazing? I suggest taking a very hard look at the "areas of improvement" list and see if we can rearrange the context so that those things become less important. In other words, why don't we try to make a square hole?
I know that everything I've said here can be abused and used as an excuse for poor performance in every area. But remember, this is about tradeoffs -- so I'm assuming that we're cutting some "areas of improvement" slack to those who demonstrate that they HAVE areas in which they are--or could be--amazing. And I'm also assuming that those areas have some real potential use/benefit. But really, do your best programmers need to be filling out their TPS reports? How many of us have lived through the cliched scenario where the time-sheets we fill out need an entry for "time spent filling out time sheets"?
OK, I admit I have a thing against performance reviews in general, but if we must have them, I'd love to see some big changes to the typical form. I'd like to see a teeny, tiny space reserved for "areas of improvement", which lists only those things deemed absolutely critical that are below the minimum threshold, and I'd like to see a BIG space titled "Areas where you are (or can be) f'n amazing." Then a plan can be custom-tailored for removing not the areas of weakness, but the things which make those weaknesses a problem (and which get in the way of using their strengths).
And this isn't just for employees--many of us need to think about this in our startups (something I'm just beginning to deal with now)... are we trying to exploit our strengths, or are we in a position where we're forced to spend too much precious effort improving our weak areas? To use the business cliche, are we trying to do business in areas that aren't our "core competency"? Agile companies are those who can turn on a dime and recognize when an area might be profitable but is slowly leading them in a direction away from their unique strengths.
If we have everyone working on their weaknesses, we do smooth out the attribute curve. But then we get mediocrity in a wide range of areas, and less f'n amazing work in narrow ranges. For many of us, we just can't afford mediocrity. There's too much competition there.
So, what can we do to make more square holes?
Anger Management Message Board
i think you are fine, and you need to try telling that to yourself. Yes anger can cause a lot of damages.
Since you have been a nanny, maybe you have some set rules in your mind, yes you can bear these rules in the premises of the employer, or maybe rules set by your employers over the period of time have got into you.
yes i had rage in me before, and there were times when i feared the rage in me, as it could so easily break relationships.
i think you are very lucky to have a submitting husband, who is calm when the weather gets rough. A good thing is that you appreciate this gesture and you are aware that this trait is causing a wedge in your relationship.
It is also good to know you are looking for the patterns, it is time you looked for trigger, and also finding and advising a remedy to your partner that can help you when you are in the state of rage and in his presence.
Make a plan to figure out a trigger and remedy, talk to your fiancee about it. find yourself a time with your partner, which in your best wisdom is the time when there are least chances for you to flare out. and before you get to talk to him, prep and tell yourself over and over again, imagine, etc no matter what he says or doesnot say, does or doesnot do, you will not react. you know his every move, his expression, imagine your self in every possible expression of his and imagine over and over again that you will not react in rage. also take some emergency contingency into this conversation, and also tell him about it before hand and not to feel offended by your contingencies. the moment you feel your tone flaring up, stop, say nothing, hold a rolled up sock real hard, or walk out of the room and scream at the wall in the bedroom, come back and continue to talk to him. you could explain all this to him before hand by handwritten note or email.
get your self in a state of complete awareness, by telling yourself, today and for the next 1 week, i will watch my mood and note everything that dis-an also try looking back into your past to search for the instance that got rage out of you.
the rule of thumb, no one knows you better than yourself, not even your fiancee, as you rightly noted the problem, the solution is also in you. and you have taken the right step by being aware and looking for answers.
another thing that could help, let us say in your nearest past you know the things that caused you to rage. these are like unwritten rules that someone broke in your presence. break the rule yourself for a change. as an experiment, try to get yourself in the situation that you hate the most and control your emotions.
everyday look in the mirror and tell yourself over and over again that your beautiful, you are good person, you are a happy person, you wont get angry. smile more often, and i mean genuine smile, like you would when an infant smiles at you...
treat yourself to something nice, even if you fail to control your emotions, this will help you accept that mistakes can happen, and will keep you going for the next cycle of attempt.
watch a movie that you are sure you would hate. and try to like it, i mean look for things you could like in the movie. you could try this with music as well. this will help you find a positive outlook in life.
put yourself in controlled safe dramatic situations and build your temperament without causing any emotional or physical harm to yourself or anyone.
find a nice scenic spot, spend sometime alone, watching the scene, sensing every sense around you, like smell, temperature, breeze etc... this way you will learn to get your mind away from your actual emotion and you will learn to ignore signs of rage.
or find a really quiet place, tell your fiancee you want to be alone in a real quiet place say for 30 mins, in total darkness. where there is no distraction whatsoever, and go over every moment that caused you rage and imagine yourself reacting positively to it.
ignorance helps. it may sound strange, but every time you feel even the slightest of disturbance in your mood, ignore the thought and replace it with a happy thought, better if you can replace it with happy times / moments with your fiancee.
yes the above guidelines, requires a lot of patience and awareness on your part and you are bound to fail the first time, or few times over and over again. try writting a blog or a journal where you are making a note of your failure, and close every chapter with a positive note encouraging you not to give up and pushing you to reach your goal.
this one also helps, avoid reading or watching news in the first part of your day, or through the week, all news are bad news and they generally trigger a feeling if hatred and remorse within you, and in most cases rebound as a disturbing trait.
5. Delay your response.
Ask for a second meeting, explaining calmly that you need time to think. Use the time to collect your backup file. Consider a consultation with an outsider: career coach, consultant, human resources professor – even a lawyer if the situation warrants.
Do not discuss your report or your decision to seek help with your peers. Ever.
6. Back up a rebuttal with facts, not emotion.
Assemble your own evidence of performance. Collect letters of appreciation, dates and times of project completion, statistics showing how you helped the company.
Often simply placing a rebuttal letter in your own file will defuse the impact of a negative evaluation. When you've had a strong track record, your company will ignore an occasional negative, unless someone has introduced a new agenda.
Your boss may be ordered to grade on the curve, i.e., assign some employees the "low" category even if everyone's doing great. And, being human, he may assign those ratings to those who are least likely to speak up. A strong, carefully written rebuttal will clarify your strength of purpose.
7. Avoid jumping to conclusions – or to a new job.
When clients ask, "Should I look for a new job?" my answer will be, "When you work for any organization, keep yourself marketable. Maintain your network. Identify reputable recruiters and build ties with them."
It's rarely a good idea to share your career change plans with your colleagues or boss until you have a written offer in hand. And it's rarely a good idea to accept a counter-offer from your present company. (Over half of all workers who accept a counter-offer are gone within six months, one way or another.)
But if your company wants to send a "Go Away!" message, they may be happy to give you a good reference that reflects your real contribution.
... .... ...
Handling a poor review requires discipline
Most people come out of a review that is critical of their performance understandably upset or angry. One important thing to remember is that you're still at the company ( not applying for a job) so there's a lot you can do before resigning yourself to being terminated or being forced to leave.
The key is whether you want to stay.
If you like your job and want to remain with the organization, your response to a less-than-favorable review becomes that much more important, because ( believe it or not ) many supervisors hate to deliver bad news. Your ability to digest it and learn from it without becoming antagonistic may be critical to your getting back into the company's and your supervisor's good graces.
It's not an easy task. It takes the ability to stand back and get outside of yourself , to view yourself dispassionately, at least for the duration of the review.
The "trick" is to understand, going into the review, that there may be some negatives and that you have to be able to separate your performance on the job from your perceptions of yourself as a bad or unworthy person because you were criticized.
This also allows you to determine, with a clear head, if those negatives can be fixed.
Even if you disagree with a negative perception, it's still your supervisor's perception and unless it's a factual issue that is in question ( i.e. sales growth or the number of new accounts added ) there will be gray areas that are matters of personal objectivity.
... ... ...
Five keys to help you cope with and overcome a bad review
1. Go in with a list of accomplishments that you have accumulated over the past year. By recording (daily) completed projects as you do them, even you will be surprised at how much you've accomplished. You'll also short-circuit a generalized, unthoughtful criticism of your work, if it's not based on the facts.
2. Go into the review assuming there will be some negatives, and thinking of your meeting as a way to learn what specific issues you have to work on to get to that next step. It's your boss' job to let you know about areas where you can improve, so try not to be offended. Your goal is to convince your supervisor, in a positive manner, that you are willing to make that commitment.
3. Before going into a review, separate a page into two columns. The first should be headed "Specific Areas of Strength"; the second, "Specific Areas of Improvement." It's very important that you hear both the good and the bad comments, because you'll never improve, to your boss' satisfaction, if you deny, in your anger, that there were any areas needing improvement. Remember, we're talking about your supervisor's perception, not necessarily yours.
4. Ask for clarification and specific examples if you hear generalizations or don't understand what the problem is. But try hard not to be too argumentative. Offer specifics of your own to buttress your argument if you feel that there is an incorrect perception.
5. Find out how your boss might solve these issues, and ask for another review in thirty days to address these specific issues, to see if headway is being made.
Remember that if you spend your time being hurt by or defensive about what is said, and not learning about what you can do to change your boss' perception, you're doing yourself a disservice.
What you are trying to accomplish is to leave the meeting with a good idea of what you can do to improve your boss' perception of you before the next review.
You're also creating an image of a thoughtful employee who is willing and able to modify behavior.
To do this, you have to be prepared to hear what the issues are, so that they can be addressed.
Remember, perception is often someone's reality.
Separating the "learning" from the "hurting" parts of the review is the key The hurt over a bad review may not go away, but by taking pains to separate the "learning" from the "hurting" part of the meeting, you stand a far better chance of correcting perceptions and having a more positive review the next time out.
Good jobs are hard to come by, and if you like your job this approach should help to give you a fighting chance to assess and correct areas that your supervisor feels may have been overlooked, without allowing your personal feelings to dominate.
David Gordon, President of Gordon Communications, a marketing and outplacement consulting firm in Highland Park, Illinois.
Corporate Hellhole, April 3, 2001
by Dan Moreland
Reviewer: Dan Moreland - See all my reviews
We've all had bad bosses. Very few of us have not had the joy of working for a barbarous, bullying taskmaster that makes you dread Monday mornings.
Then there's Chainsaw Al Dunlap. Think of the most egotistical, arrogant, selfish, greedy, low-class and verbally abusive manager from hell you can think of. According to John Byrne's "Chainsaw: The Notorious Career of Al Dunlap in the Era of Profit-At-Any-Price", Al Dunlap is all of these things, and maybe more. He makes Mr. Dithers look like Richard Branson.
Flying the pirate flag of cost cutting, Chainsaw Al made his name rampaging through companies as a high level executive in the 1980s. He cut thousands of jobs and closed factories in the blink of an eye. During his reign of terror, Dunlap became the scourge of those with a corporate conscience while becoming the darling of investors and a media icon.
It wasn't until the mid to late 90s that the financial world got wind of what "Rambo in Pinstripes" was up to. As CEO with Scott and then Sunbeam, Chainsaw ate the heart out of both companies, allegedly falsified financials, and wooed Wall Street to pretty them up for a quick sale. Chainsaw would pocket millions while thousands of regular working stiffs were out of jobs- many after decades of service.
It's the Sunbeam debacle that Byrne documents in "Chainsaw" and boy what a fun ride. From Dunlap screaming and shouting at his bewildered executive staff at his first meeting to the apocalyptic crash from $50 to $5 a share, you get to see and hear it all. The author does an excellent job of recreating what life working for the guy must have been like, and it is obvious that he did very careful research.
Talk about a corporate nightmare. Dunlap, in his pinstripe suits, tinted glasses, dyed blonde hair and very loud voice would arrogantly hand out copies of his autographed book "Mean Business" and scream at anyone that told him anything he didn't want to hear.
My favorite scene is Dunlap is yelling one of his staff. He begins his tirade by telling his victim to be quiet and not to utter a word. After piling on the poor sap, he asks if he is going to respond to his accusations or just sit there silent. The executive reminds Al that he wasn't allowed to talk during the meeting.
"Shut up!" bellows Dunlap, "You don't deserve to speak!" Priceless! Suddenly Gordon Gekko is Ghandi!
"Chainsaw" kind of plods at first as you are barraged with a cast of characters that you quickly lose track of. But time and again Byrne pulls you in with great narratives. For instance one scene depicts the dark side of Darwinian capitalism: the financial travails of a former laid off Sunbeam employee contrasted with a description of Big Al negotiating a new multimillion dollar contract over an expensive steak dinner.
By the second half of "Chainsaw", you are hooked. Wall Street catches on to his shenanigans, and Sunbeam quickly spirals out of control along with our anti-hero.
Besides way too many players, my only other problem with "Chainsaw" is a section devoted to his ill-fated first marriage and the treatment of his only son. The author uses divorce testimony to imply Dunlap abused his first wife, and interview quotes revealing he abandoned his son. We also learn that Dunlap didn't even go to his father's funeral. This is tricky ground. Whether or not this is true, the author already makes a good case that the guy was a creep without having to include so much of his personal life. And, as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story (in Byrne's defense, Dunlap refused to cooperate with the book, but still).
There are other instances where you can really feel the author's venom. Byrne covered the subject in several articles for "Business Week" and reveals a deep personal dislike for Dunlap. He even refers to him as a "loudmouth" and makes other nasty remarks. It may or may not be well deserved, but these comments and the personal detail make John Byrne border on being as mean-spirited as Chainsaw himself.
This is a terrific read, and is definitely a business model for NOT how to manage a company. In the same vein, I also recommend the educational but more tedious "Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania and Business Blunders" by Jim Carlton, and "Trumped" by John O'Donnell.
If nothing else, "Chainsaw" will definitely make your crummy job seem a lot easier!
I worked for a 30 billion dollar company who embraced the self-made, highly esteemed Jack Welch. I sat in a meeting as a manger and was told we would be paying the top 10% well and that we MUST get rid of the bottom 10%. Next down from the top was 20% of my employees. They got a little bit of the spoils. 40% were just corporate drones who were told they met expectation. Some would not be eligible for "cost of living" increases. They were just fortunate to work for the company.
Then you have the 20% who were going to be kept as employees, yet not eligible for collecting a dime more than last year, even when factoring in inflation. They lost money if they kept working for this stupid company.
The last 10% were sent to "The Tower." If you do not know British history, "The Tower" was death row. 10% were to be fired within the next 90 days. I was told to find 10% and get their 90 day paperwork going so that I could fire them.
You said "I believe that most associates will decide that the deck is stacked against them and will not try as hard as they had in the past." YES, YES, YES and YES. Why? Because managers have no idea how to mentor the unlucky 70%.
I love this:
"It was like a bomb went off when we were told, basically, that some of us were not going to get rewarded or rewarded as well as we should since the bean counters did their spreadsheet and stated only a few employees could really do a good job."
Thank you Jack Welch for your success in infiltrating the mostly blind and stupid corporate American leadership with absolutely the most idiotic plan. This may sound harsh; however, this man has done more damage than good.
Here is how he is described:
"Jack Welch may be the most talked about and widely emulated manager in business history. He's used his own uncanny instincts and unique leadership strategies to run GE, the most complex organization in the world, increasing its market value by more than $400 billion over two decades."
Well, that is a great bottom-line figure, but the carnage left behind is irresponsible.
Uinseann says "The defections are starting, we lost two key people in the last week and we are going to lose two more soon."
Yes, and you Uinseann, your offer will come. Hang on and get ready.
When you get your new job, be sure and drop Jack a Christmas card and let us know. We are cheering for you!
Thanks for sharing your story. Unfortunately it is all too familiar now.
Most people roll their eyes when it comes time for performance reviews. This is because the review is, by nature, an uncomfortable and contrived process. In most companies, reviews happen once or twice a year, and during this time, every employee is forced to sit in a room with his boss and talk turkey about how he's progressed and how he's screwed up. Performance review documentation is notorious for being generic and vague, complete with ratings that are totally subjective and impossible to measure. Unfortunately, many reviews also take place in a vacuum: the items discussed are often not mentioned again until the next review.
As a result, many people perceive reviews as yet another bureaucratic exercise that wastes valuable time and need not be taken seriously. However, for all its flaws, the performance review is the only door to promotion inside much of the business world, so you must take advantage of it if you want to get ahead.
Preparing for the Big Day
If you don't care about your review, no one else will. The worst thing you can do for your career is to go through the process passively. Whether your company's review cycle takes place annually or bi-annually, your preparation should typically start weeks before. Think of your review as an opportunity to sell your manager on your value to the company.
You'll have a great head start if you've mapped out clear career goals and you and your boss have discussed them on an ongoing basis. Take your last review out of the file cabinet and dust it off. Look at the goals and/or action steps outlined last time around and gather facts to support how you've progressed in each area. Brainstorm concrete examples that illustrate outstanding performance and practice communicating them so they're on the tip of your tongue. Then, make a list of all of the things you would like to cover in the review conversation, independent of your manager's agenda. Your objectives will probably include soliciting feedback on your progress, identifying new goals and growth opportunities and hammering out a long-term promotion plan. This last item is particularly important. While you can't reasonably expect to be promoted after every review, you should at least leave with an understanding of where your current responsibilities are leading.
When it comes time for the actual review, make sure your boss gives it to you. This may sound ridiculous, but you'd be surprised how many companies will allow managers to get away with skipping the review process entirely. After all, bosses are busy and employee reviews are not on the top of their list of priorities. Remember, though, that it's your right to request a timely appraisal. During the meeting itself, maintain a good balance between listening to what your manager has to say and playing an active role in the conversation. Just because your boss offers constructive criticism doesn't mean you won't get a promotion or raise, so keep your defensiveness to a minimum. Even though a casual chitchat session might be more comfortable and fun than a serious conversation about your career aspirations, insist on getting through your objectives for the meeting.
Don't be afraid to ask questions about your boss's feedback and make sure you read over your written review carefully before signing it. Once the cycle is complete, your manager might be perfectly happy to forget about your performance for the next five or eleven months. Don't let her. Be proactive about setting up regular meetings to review your progress, address potential problems and incorporate new responsibilities and priorities into the master plan. If you keep the lines of communication open, nothing that comes up in your next review will be a surprise. Who knows, maybe you'll even look forward to it!
Asking for a Raise
If you are going to ask your boss for a raise, make sure you have a good reason. And needing the money doesn't count. Your company doesn't care if you are drowning in student loans, can't make your rent or have to finance a wedding this year. Like everything else in the business world, the money you get paid is all about the value you add to the company. Before you sit down with your manager, you'll want to be prepared with a list of contributions that have positively impacted the bottom line. As you're putting together your case, be hard on yourself. Look at the situation from your company's point of view. Have you honestly acquired such valuable skills, performed at such a high level and exceeded expectations to such a degree that your company should shell out more assets to keep you?
You also have to look at the big picture. Check out compensation surveys like the National Compensation Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor ( http://www.bls.gov/ncs ) or Web sites like Salary.com to determine how your salary stacks up to what other local employees in your position are making. Don't forget to take into account other financial incentives you may receive from your company, including bonuses, stock options, insurance packages, 401k contributions and tuition reimbursement.
Of course, you also have to get real and evaluate your request in the context of the current economic conditions, your company's financial status and internal policies regarding raises. In today's business climate particularly, many companies are foregoing merit increases or are only issuing them at a certain time of year. Some organizations also have fixed salary ranges, or grades, that prevent managers from increasing compensation beyond the amount pre-determined by your level or title. Still others place the authority to decide matters of compensation in the hands of a few individuals - and your boss may not be one of them. You'll save yourself a lot of agida if you find out about such things ahead of time.
What is a good time to ask for a raise? Coming off a strong performance review in which your boss acknowledged your accomplishments is a good bet because he will probably be expecting you to broach the subject of money. If you have just taken on a new role or your management has raised the bar for your performance, it is perfectly legitimate to ask for an appointment to discuss "compensation commensurate with new responsibilities."
When scheduling the meeting, pick a time when your boss's stress level and workload are as manageable as possible and tell him what you want to talk about so he's prepared. An informal setting like lunch often works best because it allows you to relate to your manager on a personal level. Before you meet face to face, decide on a number that you'd be satisfied with and think about how you'll respond if you don't get it. You also may want to practice your tone on a family member or friend prior to the meeting, because there is a fine line separating the assertive/sincere and boastful/arrogant approaches.
Now, on to the actual "raise discussion." If you're underpaid and you know it, don't complain. Acting bitter or angry will only put your manager on the defensive. Instead, remain calm, positive and professional. Tell your boss how much you enjoy working at the company. Talk about your performance in a factual manner and provide concrete examples of how you add value to the organization. When it comes time to pop the question, use the word compensation rather than raise or money. In the event that your boss declines your raise, don't close your ears to the rest of the discussion. She may be willing to offer you other perks instead, like extra vacation time, flexible hours or a nice dinner with your significant other on the company. These concessions may not be as valuable as cold cash, but they can come in handy when you're struggling to afford the good life outside of work.
Despite your best efforts, you may not get the compensation you've earned. This is not an unusual scenario, as often the only way to get a serious pay increase is to switch to a new position. At this point, you must decide if you are willing to trade more money for your current positive work experience. If the answer is yes, swallow your negativity for the time being and ask your boss what you need to do to receive an increase and if it's possible to revisit the issue in a few months. Do not give an ultimatum unless you are prepared to walk out the door right then and there. Even if you have another job offer in hand that pays more, you cannot assume that your manager will make a counteroffer.
Your boss may tell you that she would like to give you a raise, but her hands are tied. If this is the case, ask her if the two of you can schedule a meeting with the higher-up responsible for the decision. Do not go over her head without her knowledge and make sure she is kept on the loop on all matters concerning your compensation.
Raise discussions are never easy for either party, and if your boss is the passive-aggressive type, he may tell you what you want to hear simply to get you out of his office. Make sure that you follow up appropriately on any verbal promises he makes, and if possible, secure an effective date for your increase. The issue is not closed until you see the change on your paycheck.
9/22/2005 | NPR
September 14, 2005
What can you do if you discover that your boss is a micromanager? Working with a micromanager is generally a losing proposition. You may feel you can learn to live with the tyranny, but there are consequences.
First, decide if you want to continue to work for this person. If you can find another job you like with a different manager within the company, your answer should probably be "no." If your answer is "yes" then you must make changes. You must respect your abilities and talent enough to ensure that you are being fully utilized. If you do not respect yourself, you will be miserable. The onus is on you ultimately.
If you have decided to continue to work under the microscope and have no other immediate alternatives you must make a promise to yourself. You must commit to "managing up." If you do not know what that means, I have written several posts that will explain what it is and how to do it effectively. You must commit to working through the issues appropriately with your boss. I really emphasize appropriately. Inappropriate behavior on your part will and should get you fired.
- Stay emotionally neutral in all discussions with your boss. Do not raise your voice. Even if you are ready to scream, keep it inside. An emotional outburst on your part will give a micromanager all he needs to continue controlling everything you do.
- Ask if you can be direct with your boss. You should ask permission to be "frank." [never do that -- that's stupid -- NNB] Why? Many micromanagers are not mature enough to have a direct conversation. So if the conversation goes south, you can always remind your boss that you asked if you could be direct [Well, psychopaths never keep their word -- NNB]
- Give concrete examples where you "feel" you have been treated inappropriately. This is the hardest part, but the most important. You should prepare for this part of the discussion very diligently. The examples must be recent. They should be the best examples you can think of where the micromanager cannot refute what actually happened. If it is totally fact based the only way a micromanager can deny what you are saying is by manipulating truth. That is another whole issue.
- Your goal should be to change one behavior. That's right, just one at a time. That is all your micromanaging boss can probably handle. This will be an incremental process, so get ready for a commitment. An example would be for you to get your micromanager to let you be responsible for one task completely without his approval. Focus on things that you do that you know should be your responsibility completely. Your boss should not have to put a stamp of approval on it. Even sell the idea as removing something off his already unmanageable schedule.
- If you are not getting anywhere with your boss during this process you must decide to escalate this up to the next level. But remember, micromanagers tend to hire micromanagers, so assess your boss's boss. Even if he is a micromanager you still must give that manager the opportunity to address your concerns. This is critical. It is only fair that you treat your managers as you want to be treated. Even if you do not think it is fair or necessary. Trust me on this.
- If the management team does not address this issue, your next step is Human Resources (if you have an HR department).
If all goes sour and you have no HR, start dusting off that resume and pounding the pavements. You do not belong there.
posted at 9/14/2005 12:12:00 PM | 0 comments links to this post
Typically micromanagers hire micromanagers. So look out for your boss's boss. S/he might be micromanaging your boss. So what you bring to the table is almost zilch.
Someone recently responded to my blog by describing their fearless leader's attempt at doing an annual review. There is a disclaimer here. I am assuming what this reader has shared is totally factual.
So here is the reader's description of her annual reviews:
"In 16 years at my last job, my annual reviews were an opportunity for my boss (Director) to nit pick and criticize about little petty things from 11 months prior, or we talked about his latest "new toy" he purchased. I knew everything about him, kids, wife, parents and in-laws. Even his neighbors. He didn't even now that I had a child. Better yet, would have been to celebrate my many achievements and all the money I saved the company. I have to admit my bonuses were great - he always rated me Superior Performance, so there was some solace in getting the money. But he would never tell me that, why? So although the mid 5 figure bonuses were appreciated, the lack of acknowledgement did offend me."
We can learn from this post. If this boss is for real, the Blogging Boss assumes he is a menace to corporate America.
1) An annual review should have NO surprises! None. Zero. If this boss had issues during the past year they should have been addressed all through the year. You NEVER dump on an employee during an annual review. NEVER. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I really hate this.
2) The employee knows all about the boss (most likely their personal life was vomited upon the employee). The boss never listened enough to even hear that the employee actually had a child. Folks, this is the NORM! Most managers have wax-filled ears. Even if they had it removed they still could NOT listen.
3) The boss never acknowledged exactly what the employee did well. Yet the boss compensated as if the employee was doing a stellar job. People want to know what they are doing well. This is KEY to self-esteem and confidence. This boss compensated at a high level, but did not marry the compensation to the accomplishments. BOOOO!
So what do we take away from this wonderful post?
1) The boss was self-centered and never made an effort to learn more about the employee. Actually my guess is that he really did not care.
2) He used an annual review to needle the employee and then sent a mixed signal. The employee was never told WHY they deserved a 5 figure bonus (not a trivial bonus).
3) The employee was compensated for the level of achievement but never appropriately coached or mentored.
4) The resulting message was "money is good." The net result - offensive management. "My boss has offended me and has not been my advocate."
On the Blogging Boss scale, this manager gets a barely a 1 on a scale from 1 to 5. He has violated some very important principles as an advocate, servant and leader.
Send me your comments!
Many lawyers and professional legal staff prefer to think of themselves as in business for themselves, merely using a group to provide office space, support services, and occasional camaraderie.
This assumed sense of personal independence undergoes a rude awakening when a senior partner calls you into his or her office to detail for you, without your asking, how you are perceived. Some of the thoughts that may go through your head at a time like this are:
"Just who the hell is (s)he to be judging me?" "All that negative stuff has been coming from X, who has been talking behind my back. I knew I couldn't trust him/her." "(S)he acted as if (s)he thought I was pretty cool. Now the truth comes out!" "I feel dirty. I am neither as good or as bad as they say." "Why is all this ancient stuff being drudged up and thrown in my face?"
Recognize yourself in any of this? Had similar feelings? They are normal. By understanding anyone's normal self-centered and defensive reaction to being judged, and realizing that your feelings are automatically programmed to respond self-protectively in such situations, you have won half the battle; because with understanding can come a modicum of control.
You can't avoid professional criticism. You may have strong opinions as to the innate fairness of the appraisal process. You may be unfairly damaged and have documents to prove it. You may be thinking that you're being criticized for stuff that happened months ago and is no longer relevant. Regardless, the criticism hurts and remains potentially lethal as long as it sits in some partner's drawer already signed off on by other partners. Well, if you've ever felt abused by the performance-review process, you're not alone. Such 'heart-to-heart' talks trouble everybody. What you need is a survival strategy to deal with performance appraisals. Otherwise they can drive you nuts.
Then there is this alarming news: According to Ellen Wayne of the New York Law Journal, "Evaluations have taken on an importance they never had before. Associates are not only judged on the basis of their work skills and performance targets but now have the added anxiety that termination could be the result of a less than glowing review." Rest assured that as law firms continue to be operated more like businesses (as opposed to being run like private men's clubs), the performance appraisal becomes an important tool for weeding people out, as well as identifying top performers at all levels, from associates to paralegals to legal secretaries.
Most of us would agree that some sort of evaluation system is needed for everyone. The problem is how to construct a system certifiably free of bias. This may be impossible: evaluation systems are constructed by humans, and humans are fallible. Furthermore, it is difficult if not impossible to categorize and quantify the qualities that identify perfection in professions such as the law, meaning billable hours alone do not tell the tale. For associates there is something called "partner potential" which remains both on the appraiser's mind and on yours. Paralegals may also be evaluated based on billable hours, but they and legal secretaries are also being evaluated on how well they support a partner, carry out support functions, and are team players. How does one evaluate all that?
Let's deal first with the emotions that surface any time you receive a performance appraisal. Unless these emotions are well understood and contained by you at the start, a rational discussion of the performance appraisal as an institutional tool--and how you can successfully deal with it--cannot take place.
Reason Versus The Emotional Self
Nothing is more threatening to one's inviolable sense of self and its importance than to have a relative stranger sit down and dissect you both professionally and personally. First of all, the mere fact of delivering the appraisal solidifies that person's superior rank. This relative stranger also is acting summarily as judge and jury, dispassionately (hopefully) enumerating your strengths, faults, succethrough when you wrote X, did Y, or said Z.
To further muddy the waters, performance reviews can often be subjective. They can reflect group consensus or be driven by personal spite and used to settle personal scores. At times, it can all seem so unfair: A heroic performance against all odds during recessionary times can be considered inadequate; an average performance during spectacular economic times can be considered superior. All of this can make performance appraisals uncomfortable to contemplate, difficult to suffer, and almost impossible to trust. Now that this has been said, let's examine the other side of the equation: the appraisal rationale. We'll briefly discuss this and end with adaptive strategies you can employ to weather the stress and get on with the job.
The Appraisal Rationale
Talk to law firm partners and they will tell you that many positive outcomes can derive from performance appraisals, among them (1) meaningful feedback, (2) improved inter-firm communication, (3) maintenance of standards, and (4) facilitation of career planning. Not all of these claims can be fulfilled all of the time. Some are code for firm agendas the individual lawyer, paralegal, or legal secretary may or may not pick up on. Let's examine each of these suggested outcomes more fully so that you can understand why they exist and what traps they may conceal.
- Meaningful feedback. The idea here is that if you know what more experienced others think of your work product and conclude about you personally, you'll want to mold yourself into what is expected, and, parenthetically, if you don't want to mold yourself into this image, you'll leave. Either way, the firm benefits. In this instance, the performance appraisal is 'meaningful' as a tool for generating conformity and weeding out misfits. Before you raise a cry of outrage, think about this a moment. The goal is not to turn you into a Stepford Wife. You can be a cross-dresser outside work and secretly pull the wings off of live flies for all anybody cares. The purpose is to encourage you to become part of a team while at work and not a planet circling around some distant star. On your own, you can be as counter-cultural as you wish, unless, of course you bring unfavorable public attention to yourself and your firm. Do that and you're likely to hear about it on your next performance appraisal if not before.
- Improved communication. This is a dubious claim. It can happen, but frequently the opposite occurs. Bad vibes are generated. Yet, if the people being reviewed can be convinced that the system is unbiased and the appraisal process conducted dispassionately, the occasional bad feeling will not become part of a rising chorus of smoldering discontent. The component missing here, it ought to be mentioned, is discretion. Rather than create improved communication, which smacks of corpspeak, the goal of the appraisal process should be to remain confidential--a private summing up between appraiser and appraised that hopefully clears the air, establishes baselines for future on-the-job conduct, and sets the agenda for a less fractious future.
- Maintenance of Standards. Hard to argue with this one. A firm has a right to set standards, and it has a right to expect you to adhere to them. The problem comes when these standards are not clear at the start. In an article on performance appraisals in the March 17, 2003, edition of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, which specializes in local legal news, the writer, Consultant Ida Abbott, advises any law firm to first assess the competencies desired and then:
"…identify five to 10 specific components to be evaluated for each key performance standard. If one of your standards is 'professionalism,' it must be dissected into specific, observable tasks, skills, attitudes, behaviors and attributes that characterize what a lawyer must do to demonstrate that quality. For example, one component might be 'attention to detail: Is thorough and tenacious in completing complex and multifaceted tasks; work product is neat and free of errors.'"
What Abbot does not address is this: a subjective judgment is still required because everyone screws up, and not all screw-ups are equal. What needs to be judged is the importance of the screw-up. Did it cause the loss of millions of dollars in client revenue or, say, was the mistake made on a will and trust that had no substantive effect on the efficacy of the document? The firm culture and its guardians must decide. They may disagree among themselves but eventually must reach consensus. That is how the appraisal process works. Thus, note that even the consensus judgment handed down to you on your appraisal may be a matter of dispute among the partners. The fact that there was internal disagreement will most likely not appear on your appraisal, although it may be hinted at during your person-to-person interview.
- Facilitates Career Planning. In managing associates, this is corpspeak for "Am I Partner Material?" The whole purpose for most associates slaving away at their jobs and conforming to firm production and decorum standards is to eventually grab the metaphorical brass ring: a partnership. If you achieve that, you think that you truly can be considered your own business, your own profit center, with control over your own destiny. Again, there is some deception involved in any process which purports to outline the personal qualities and performance level needed to make partner: Let's say that you are nice to your mother, don't smoke, drink or frequent hookers, don't beat your kids, are still happily married to your original spouse and are punctilious in your weekly attendance of religious services. You have worked your way onto the boards of some small corporations. You are one of your suburb's council members. You have brought in new business, and you bill an ungodly number of hours. Sadly, you can meet all these qualifications and still have your partnership delayed if, say, existing partners do not retire when they say they will, your firm has financial problems, or a new partner arrives from somewhere else accompanied by several big-timxample, there may be supervisory positions available such as floor secretary or office manager with commensurate pay and/or seniority perquisites. Alternatively, a paralegal may become head paralegal or be allowed to specialize in handling only certain matters or working with only certain partners. Insofar as you demonstrate your value and skills, the firm should try to recognize and reward those efforts. Whether firms will do so or even contemplate such a system varies from firm to firm and will likely be rooted in the simple math of is this person adding value (and real dollars) to the firm or not.Next week: Part II will provide guidance on how to proceed now that you understand the review process.
Part I of this piece examined the growth of performance reviews at law firms and detailed the rationale behind them. In Part II, LawCrossing gives advice on how to handle the review process.Okay, So The Appraisal Process Is Not Perfect! How Do I Proceed? Your first battle is to win a fight with yourself. As we have said, you are emotionally predisposed and programmed to protect yourself from bad news, especially if through your actions you caused the bad news to happen. Your mind will deliberately rationalize your mistakes. It will attribute them to events beyond your control. It may even shift blame to others. In short, your brain will do almost anything to avoid confronting the truth of your own error. So your first job is to confront this aspect of yourself and attempt to override it. Easier said than done, right? Well, awareness is half the battle.
When you make a mistake, go ahead and rationalize it all you want, but allow part of your brain to recognize it for what it was, a blunder. Start with prevention. Where associates and professional staff get themselves in needless difficulty is not owning up to mistakes. Most mistakes can be fixed quickly. If you find yourself making the same type of mistake over and over, you need to be on the outlook for this predilection. Then your brain can start building fail-safe mechanisms to guard against similar future mistakes.
Learn the system. Every firm has its idiosyncrasies. For instance, in your firm, what is considered a respectable amount of billable hours? Are partners down in the trenches with associates or do they have a tendency to remain aloof? In general, how is work assigned? How is it evaluated? If you get in the flow sufficiently to operate automatically, then the aspects of the system that seem petty or unnecessary will eventually be forgotten.
Get feedback. But don't do so too often. Don't go running into a supervising partner or senior associate every three or four hours to ask "How am I doing?" Your insecurity will soon cause irritation, and you will look like a whiner and not a "take charge" individual. Instead, choose quiet times, outside the office if necessary, to ask the assessment of someone senior whom you trust. There are good and bad ways to do this. A bad way might go like this:
You: Well, how am I doing? Partner: What do you mean? You: You know, my work performance. Is it okay? In your opinion, am I partner material? What does the bonus situation look like this year? How much do you think I will get?
Here's what you did wrong in this conversation. First, you put the partner on the spot. You did not give him or her enough time to reflectively respond to your first question before you asked the second question. As for the second question, if you have only been with the firm a few years, there may be no way of telling if you are or are not partner material. True, impressions about you have begun to form. But those impressions can and will change over time. So the first piece of advice is to avoid asking about partnerships. Likewise, asking about bonuses and promotions is rarely a good tactic.
Instead, whether you are an associate or professional staff, keep your questions specific to a particular assignment or series of assignments. This is only reasonable. The long-term decision regarding your competency and/or partnership potential is the result of many private discussions by others that eventually result in a consensus after a period of years. A better way to inquire about your performance might go like this:
You: Do you think I did okay on the Laughingbod Case? I'm only asking because I respect your opinion, and your feedback can only be helpful. (Pause)
Partner: I thought you did okay. (Pause) You might edit your stuff a little more carefully before turning it in. You write persuasively, and I've complemented you on your citations, and you're great at meeting deadlines, but, as you know, I've also pointed out some problems from time to time; not serious, you understand, but an indication that your language can use some tightening. I'll work with you on this. It was a problem I also had when I first started working here. I had to learn how the law firm did things. I might add that others have noted how well you handle the client. You're very relaxed and professional and I've heard a lot of favorable comments.
You: Thanks. Now, about the Laughingbod Case. I next plan to…etc.
Here's What You did right in this conversation. (1) You asked for advice, which flatters the potential advice giver. (2) You didn't bombard him/her with additional questions. You asked an open-ended question that gave the other person wide latitude in how to respond. (3) You got the advice giver to point out problems; but more important strategically, you got him or her to partner with you in working on the problem. You moved the advice giver into your corner as a helper/facilitator. (4) Finally, you didn't become a pain in the ass by dwelling on the subject. You moved on, allowing the supervising attorney to do the same.
The above hypothetical conversation may or may not be difficult to replicate. It suggests an already comfortable relationship between a supervising lawyer and his or her report; but a loose approximation of such a discussion can be conducted with anyone as long as you remember to keep your question simple, open-ended, and focused on a specific task or tasks. Your primary task: Get a supervisory attorney to take some responsibility for your development. This does not mean mentoring in the classic sense of the word. You're merely asking for an occasional on-the-job critique from someone who may even busier than you; so you cannot ask for this directly but only hope that it is offered. If it is, this person could eventually evolve into your mentor.
Constantly evaluate yourself. The first and most important question you must ask is, Would I want to work with me or for me? You can decide this by asking such questions as: Do partners, other associates, or people in the support staff avoid me? If so, why? Am I brusque in my professional dealings? Do I complain a lot? Do I pick arguments? Do I fail to say "Thank you" when somebody goes out of their way or does something nice for me? Am I absent more than I should be? Do I fail to return calls promptly?
Being aware of others is often difficult when we have spent all of our lives focusing on ourselves, with our noses in books and with one test hurdle after another always staring us in the face. But the truth is, in a work environment it is all about interpersonal relationships. You don't have to turn yourself into a back-slapping life of the party, but you need to be moderately skillful socially when at the office. You may arbitrarily dismiss such social niceties as "office politics." But the fact of the matter is that all work life involves human interaction, and all of human interaction is political in the sense that to work and live together, we must make accommodations and compromises in order to get along.
Periodically, force yourself to evaluate your social interactions. What aspect of these interactions can you manage better? Which relationships seem to be working best? Why might they be? Do these relationships work solely because you genuinely like these particular individuals? Because you share some interest no matter how banal? Or is it because you take the time to recognize them as unique individuals?
Proactively, always find something about somebody else to compliment, but do so judiciously. Don't just make up something. The compliment has to be sincerely felt or noticed or the other person will likely intuit your deception and react unfavorably to you. Monitor yourself to see if you are walking around looking distracted or unpleasant. If you are, a smile can fix the problem even if you are boiling inside. In an article in JD Jungle, the author (anonymous) comments as follows: "Success at a law firm is about human relationships," says Peter Sloan, a career development partner at Kansas City's Blackwell Sanders. Every time you meet someone new-a partner, another first-year, your secretary-smile. Introduce yourself. Take the time to ask the person a bit about herself. Be the kind of person people like to work with, says Sloan. "You'll lay the groundwork for the relationships you'll need to get ahead."
Sloan makes smiling sound like a cynical career move, but it is more than that. It may not help you get ahead, as he assumes, but smiling can reshape your approach to work, to your fellow lawyers and life in general. Like physical exercise, it is necessary for a healthy existence. So look upon smiling as producing multiple benefits, some of which may be that people will like you better and be more disposed to giving you a break.
You cannot avoid performance appraisals. Even partners get appraisals. You will be evaluated in one form or another all of your working life. Because you cannot avoid the process, it is better that you manage it as best you can. You must first manage your emotions. This is the toughest part. Secondly, you must identify and establish a comfortable feedback relationship with those responsible for judging you. This means getting constant feedback without having to ask for it; which in turn means establishing the kind of open and eager-to-improve attitude that permits criticism, which also has much to do with managing your emotions. Finally, your task is to get supervising attorneys ready to help you improve, which starts with your being open to all suggestions. If you can do most if not all of this, you likely won't be "blindsided" at appraisal time. So, good luck to you. Take a while to think about what you've just read. Try to dispassionately analyze your current work attitude towards your fellow associates, the partners, the support staff, and your attitude towards yourself. Some of the changes in this article may feel ill-fitting the first few weeks you try them; but none of them-smiling more, saying "thank you" when appropriate, controlling your negative emotions-will seriously compromise your individuality. Instead, you'll find your work easier and the dreaded performance appraisal easier to digest.
You can't avoid professional criticism.
You may have strong opinions as to the innate fairness of the appraisal process. You may be unfairly damaged and have documents to prove it. You may be thinking that you're being criticized for stuff that happened months ago and is no longer relevant. Regardless, the criticism hurts and remains potentially lethal as long as it sits in some partner's drawer already signed off on by other partners. Well, if you've ever felt abused by the performance-review process, you're not alone. Such 'heart-to-heart' talks trouble everybody. What you need is a survival strategy to deal with performance appraisals. Otherwise they can drive you nuts.
Then there is this alarming news: As law firms continue to be operated more like businesses (as opposed to being run like private men's clubs), the performance appraisal becomes an important tool for weeding people out as well as identifying top performers. According to Ellen Wayne of the New York Law Journal, "Evaluations have taken on an importance they never had before. Associates are not only judged on the basis of their work skills and performance targets but now have the added anxiety that termination could be the result of a less than glowing review."
Most of us would agree that some sort of evaluation system is needed for everyone.
The problem is how to construct a system certifiably free of bias. This may be impossible: Evaluation systems are constructed by humans and humans are fallible. Furthermore, it is difficult if not impossible to categorize and quantify the qualities that identify perfection in professions such as the law, meaning billable hours alone do not tell the tale. There is something called 'partner potential' which remains both on the appraiser's mind and on yours. How does one evaluate that?
Let's deal first with the emotions that surface any time you receive a performance appraisal. Unless these emotions are well understood and contained by you at the start, a rational discussion of the performance appraisal as an institutional tool -and how you can successfully deal with it-- cannot take place.
Reason Versus The Emotional Self
Nothing is more threatening to one's inviolable sense of self and its importance than to have a relative stranger sit down and dissect you both professionally and personally. First of all, the mere fact of delivering the appraisal solidifies that person's superior rank. This relative stranger also is acting summarily as judge and jury, dispassionately (hopefully) enumerating your strengths, faults, successes and failures and summarizing all this with either a 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' that leaves you either euphoric, confused or devastated. Even when an appraisal is flattering, there remains an uncomfortable edge to the process. You may wonder why you feel so uneasy and perhaps even embarrassed. Such a reaction is driven by your knowledge that no one can know you as you do; nor can anyone else understand what you were going through when you wrote X, did Y or said Z.
To further muddy the waters, performance reviews can often be subjective.
The Appraisal Rationale
Meaningful feedback The idea here is that if you know what more experienced others think of your work product and conclude about you personally, you'll want to mold yourself into what is expected, and parenthetically, if you don't want to mold yourself into this image, you'll leave. Either way, the firm benefits. In this instance the performance appraisal is 'meaningful' as a tool for generating conformity and weeding out misfits. Before you raise a cry of outrage, think about this a moment. The goal is not to turn you into a Stepford Wife. You can be a cross dresser outside work and secretly pull the wings off of live flies for all anybody cares. The purpose is to encourage you to become part of a team while at work and not a planet circling around some distant star. On your own, you can be as counter-cultural as you wish, unless, of course you bring unfavorable public attention to yourself and your firm. Do that and you're likely to hear about it on your next performance appraisal if not before.
This is a dubious claim. It can happen, but frequently the opposite occurs. Bad vibes are generated. Yet, if lawyers can be convinced that the system is unbiased and the appraisal process conducted dispassionately, the occasional bad feeling will not become part a rising chorus of smoldering discontent. The component missing here, and it ought to be mentioned, is discretion. Rather than create improved communication, which smacks of corpspeak, the goal of the appraisal process should be to remain confidential -a private summing up between appraiser and appraised that hopefully clears the air, establishes baselines for future on-the-job conduct, and sets the agenda for a less fractious future.
Maintenance of Standards
Hard to argue with this one. A firm has a right to set standards and it has a right to expect you to adhere to them. The problem comes when these standards are not clear at the start. In an article on the performance appraisal in the March 17, 2003 edition of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, which specializes in local legal news, the writer, Consultant Ida Abbott advises any law firm to first assess the competencies desired and then: "…identify five to 10 specific components to be evaluated for each key performance standard. If one of your standards is 'professionalism,' it must be dissected into specific, observable tasks, skills, attitudes, behaviors and attributes that characterize what a lawyer must do to demonstrate that quality. For example, one component might be 'attention to detail: Is thorough and tenacious in completing complex and multifaceted tasks; work product is neat and free of errors.'"
Facilitates Career Planning
Okay, So The Appraisal Process Is Not Perfect! How Do I Proceed?
Your first battle is to win a fight with yourself. As we have said, you are emotionally predisposed and programmed to protect yourself from bad news, especially if through your actions you caused the bad news to happen. Your mind will deliberately rationalize your mistakes. It will attribute them to events beyond your control. It may even shift blame to others. In short, your brain will do almost anything to avoid confronting the truth of your own error. So, your first job is to confront this aspect of yourself and attempt to override it. Easier said than done, right? Well, awareness is half the battle. When you make a mistake, go ahead and rationalize it all you want, but allow part of your brain to recognize it for what it was, a blunder. Start with prevention. Where attorneys get themselves in needless difficulty is not owning up to mistakes.Most mistakes can be fixed quickly. If you find yourself making the same type of mistake over and over, you need to be on the outlook for this predilection. Then your brain can start building fail-safe mechanisms to guard against similar future mistakes. Learn the system. Every firm has its idiosyncrasies.
For instance, in your firm, what is considered a respectable amount of billable hours? Are partners down in the trenches with associates or do they have a tendency to remain aloof? How is work assigned? How is it evaluated? If you get in the flow sufficiently to operate automatically, then the aspects of the system that seem petty or unnecessary will eventually be forgotten. Get feedback. But don't do so too often. Don't go running into a supervising partner or senior associate every three or four hours to ask 'How am I doing?' Your insecurity will soon cause irritation and you will look like a whiner and not a 'take charge' individual. Instead, choose quiet times, outside the office if necessary, to ask the assessment of someone senior whom you trust. There are good and bad ways to do this. A bad way might go like this: You: Well, how am I doing? Partner: What do you mean? You: You know, my work performance. Is it okay? In your opinion, am I partner material? What does the bonus situation look like this year? How much do you think I will get?
Here's what you did wrong in this conversation.
First, you put the partner on the spot. You did not give him or her enough time to reflectively respond to your first question before you asked the second question. As for the second question, if you have only been with the firm a few years there may be no way of telling if you are or are not partner material. True, impressions about you have begun to form. But those impressions can and will change over time. So, the first piece of advice is to avoid asking about partnerships.
Instead, Keep your questions specific to a particular assignment or series of assignments.
This is only reasonable. The long-term decision regarding your competency and partnership potential is the result of many private discussions by others that eventually result in a consensus after a period of years. A better way to inquire about your performance might go like this: You: Do you think I did okay on the Laughingbod Case? I'm only asking because I respect your opinion and your feedback can only be helpful. (Pause)
Partner: I thought you did okay. (Pause) You might edit your stuff a little more carefully before turning it in. You write persuasively, and I've complemented you on your citations, and you're great at meeting deadlines, but, as you know, I've also pointed out some problems from time to time, not serious, you understand, but an indication that your language can use some tightening. I'll work with you on this. It was a problem I also had when I first started working here. I had to learn how the law firm did things. I might add that others have noted how well you handle the client. You're very relaxed and professional and I've heard a lot of favorable comment.
You: Thanks. Now, about the Laughingbod Case. I next plan to…..etc.
Here's What You did right in this conversation.
(1) You asked for advice, which flatters the potential advice giver. (2) You didn't bombard him/her with additional questions. You asked an open-ended question that gave the other person wide latitude in how to respond. (3) You got the advice giver to point out problems; but more important strategically, you got him or her to partner with you in working on the problem. You moved the advice giver into your corner as a helper/facilitator. (4) Finally, you didn't become a pain in the ass by dwelling on the subject. You moved on, allowing the supervising attorney to do the same.
The above hypothetical conversation may or may not be difficult to replicate.
It suggests an already comfortable relationship between supervising lawyer and associate; but a loose approximation of such a discussion can be conducted with anyone as long as you remember to keep your question simple, open-ended, and focused on a specific task or tasks. Your primary task: Get a supervisory attorney to take some responsibility for your development. This does not mean mentoring in the classic sense of the word. You're merely asking for occasional on-the-job critique from some one who may even busier than you; so you cannot ask for this directly but only hope that it is offered. If it is, this person could eventually evolve into your mentor.
Constantly evaluate yourself.
The first and most important question you must ask is, Would I want to work with me or for me? You can decide this by asking such questions as 'Do partners, other associates or people in the support staff avoid me? If so, why? Am I brusque in my professional dealings? Do I complain a lot? Do I pick arguments? Do I fail to say 'Thank you' when somebody goes out of their way or does something nice for me? Am I absent more than I should be? Do I fail to return calls promptly?
Being aware of others is often difficult when we have spent all of our lives focusing on ourselves, with our noses in books and with one test hurdle after another always staring us in the face. But the truth is, in a work environment it is all about interpersonal relationships. You don't have to turn yourself into a back-slapping life of the party, but you need to be moderately skillful socially when at the office. You may arbitrarily dismiss such social niceties as 'office politics.' But the fact of the matter is that all work life involves human interaction and all of human interaction is political in the sense that to work and live together we must make accommodations and compromises in order to get along.
Periodically, force yourself to evaluate your social interactions.
What aspect of these interactions can you manage better? Which relationships seem to be working best? Why might they be? Do these relationships work solely because you genuinely like these particular individuals? Because you share some interest no matter how banal? Or is it because you take the time to recognize them as unique individuals?
Proactively, always find something about somebody else to compliment, but do so judiciously. Don't just make up something. The compliment has to be sincerely felt or noticed or the other person will likely intuit your deception and react unfavorably to you. Monitor yourself to see if you are walking around looking distracted or unpleasant. If you are, a smile can fix the problem even if you are boiling inside. In an article in JD Jungle, the author (anonymous) comments as follows:
"Success at a law firm is about human relationships," says Peter Sloan, a career development partner at Kansas City's Blackwell Sanders. Every time you meet someone new -a partner, another first-year, your secretary-smile. Introduce yourself. Take the time to ask the person a bit about herself. Be the kind of person people like to work with, says Sloan. "You'll lay the groundwork for the relationships you'll need to get ahead." Sloan makes smiling sound like a cynical career move, but it is more than that. It may not help you get ahead, as he assumes; but smiling can reshape your approach to work, to your fellow lawyers and life in general. Like physical exercise, it is necessary for a healthy existence. So look upon smiling as producing multiple benefits, some of which may be that people will like you better and be more disposed to giving you a break.
You cannot avoid performance appraisals. Even partners get appraisals. You will be evaluated in one form or another all of your working life. Since you cannot avoid the process, it is better that you manage it as best you can. You must first manage your emotions. This is the toughest part. Secondly, you must identify and establish a comfortable feedback relationship with those responsible for judging you. This means getting constant feedback without having to ask for it; which in turn means establishing the kind of open and eager-to-improve attitude that permits criticism, which also has much to do with managing your emotions. Finally, your task is to get supervising attorneys ready to help you improve, which starts with your being open to all suggestions. If you can do most if not all of this, you likely won't be 'blindsided' at appraisal time. So, good luck to you. Take a while to think about what you've just read. Try to dispassionately analyze your current work attitude towards your fellow associates, the partners, the support staff, and your attitude towards yourself. Some of the changes in this article may feel ill-fitting the first few weeks you try them; but none of them -smiling more, saying 'thank you' when appropriate, controlling your negative emotions-will seriously compromise your individuality. Instead, you'll find your work easier and the dreaded performance appraisal easier to digest.
3. Andrew Duffin on August 9, 2005 3:30 AM writes...
In the beginning, businesses were run by their owners.
Then, experts took over - engineers and scientists who actually knew how things were made. In those days, you chemists would have made it to the top - my father nearly did, in the 3M company, and perhaps would have done had he not retired early, and he was a PhD chemist.
After the experts, the bean-counters had a go - some companies to this day are run by accountants; they are easy to spot - they're very hot on compliance and never take risks.
It soon became apparent that the bean-counters were stifling creativity, so "professional" managers came next. In many places they are still in power; again they are fairly easy to spot: they know (or imagine they know) everything about management per se, but absolutely nothing about the things that make their businesses work.
This is not a recipe for success either, and the latest wave (MBA's) is merely a late-flowering remnant of the managerialist philosophy. MBA's know even more about management, and (if possible) even less about how things actually happen. This too will pass.
But I am afraid us techies (I include myself, as an ex-chemist IT techie) are at least two fad-generations too late to get to the top of anything.
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February 03, 2009 | 20th Century FoxPeter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a computer programmer working for Initech in Houston. Every day, he and his friends Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman as not THAT Michael Bolton), suffer endless indignities and humiliations in their soulless workspace from their soulless boss, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). For Peter, stuck in his cookie-cutter apartment with paper-thin walls and IKEA furniture, every day is worse than the one before it -- so every day is the worst of his life. To cap it off, Initech has hired a pair of "efficiency experts" to downsize the company. One Friday night, Peter's soon to be ex-girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth) forces him to go to an occupational hypnotherapist to relieve work stress. While Peter is under hypnosis, the therapist keels over and dies. As he never snaps out of his hypnotic state, Peter has a new outlook on life. If something annoys him, he just ignores it or walks away from it. He is completely relaxed and enjoying life for the first time in a long time. On Monday, Peter skips work and sleeps in. He gets up for lunch and drives down to a restaurant next to his office and asks the waitress he's had a crush on, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), on a date. When Peter stops into the office to pick up his organizer, he's called in to talk to the efficiency experts. Relaxed and friendly, Peter charms them as he describes everything wrong with the office, including his boss. Even as Peter now appears at work only as the mood strikes him, the experts decide he's management material and give him a promotion even as they lay off the hardworking Samir and Michael. Peter then convinces his friends to exact revenge on Initech based upon an idea from Superman III. Not everything works out quite as planned. Office Space originated from writer/director Mike Judge's first animated short of the same name, created in 1991. The short was about Milton (reproduced in the film by Stephen Root), a damaged office drone whose complaints and threats about his sufferings go unheeded. ~ Ron Wells, Rovi
When mediabistro reported the firing of Scotty Iseri last week, it seemed like a golden era of Windy City videoblogging hijinks might be coming to a close. Last June after seven years as a freelance foley artist (that's sound designer to you and me), Iseri launched Scotty Got an Office Job (SGAOJ), a hysterically sneaky video blog lampooning the absurdity of corporate-cubicle culture recorded from inside his workplace (with lots of nifty post-production thrown in).
This month, Iseri's bosses--collectively code-named "Brian Boquist"--got wind of the blog, accused him of corporate insurrection, and summarily canned him. Fools. Had they done their due diligence in the first place, they might have known the hard-to-bridle creative powerhouse they were dealing with.
(Video: Scotty loses an office job.)
Prior to SGAOJ, in addition to being widely acclaimed for his sound-design skills, Iseri had won rave reviews in for his Big Rock Show, a two-man act billed as the "World's Smallest Stadium Rock Concert", as well as blogosphere clippings for his public-transit Paper Hat Game.
Surprising himself by landing an office, job, Iseri launched SGAOJ as a way to explore his new, substantially alien surroundings. In the past year, he's lampooned workday hangovers, loudmouth coworkers, office-kitchen politics, intransigent pop machines, interminable staff meetings, and much more.
My favorites are the musical numbers. Take a look at these two SGAOJ episodes to see why:
(Video: Scotty dances the dance of get-me-outta-here.)
(Video: Scotty sings the song of office insolence.)
This week, on the newly renamed Scotty Wants an Office Job, Iseri let's it be known his humorous look at office life has not come to end. His latest offering: a cautionary, tongue-in-cheek re-telling of how not to do a phone interview.
(Video: Scotty has a bad phone interview.)
I encourage you to browse the rest of Iseri's video blog (also available on iTunes), and check out this excellent review on Tilzy.tv for another perspective on his video antics. A wise workplace would hire Iseri and make him their irreverent corporate ambassador. Of course, if there were that kind of wisdom in Windy City boardrooms, he'd have nothing to riff on. So thanks go to Brian Boquist.
Really, you had it coming.
Read more: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicagosphere/2009/06/scottys-got-an-awesome-blog.html#ixzz1Jvi2n1Y1
The Method is a thriller that hardly moves. Composed entirely of dialogue in a single room, packed with paranoid glances and panic sweats in three-piece Italian suits, it is the cumulating of every anxiety about interviewing for a job taken to reality television absurdity, wrapped around a scathing critique of corporate culture . The end result is a smart, cerebral drama almost entirely verbal. The idea was bound to happen eventually. When you lock people in a room together for any length of time, crazy stuff can happen. Mix that with a job application where only one person can be left standing and you've got yourself a movie! Well, a play adapted to a movie.
Adapted from the subversive Spanish play "El Método Grönholm" by screenwriter Mateo Gil (The Sea Inside, Open Your Eyes and Vanilla Sky), The Method is corporate dog-eat-dog culture taken to the level of Objectivist nightmare; a Big Brother style reality television show where ego and selfishness override all other aspects of personality. Here, candidates are selected not based on their credentials or job experience, but by an unknown set of criteria set by a team of mysterious psychologists (or so they believe). Once a candidate "fails" a section of the interview process, he or she gets expelled from the applicants, forced to leave. It's a like a Google job interview with the cast of Survivor.
Paranoia, confusion, self-doubt and cruelty set in as each candidate, whether actively or passively, begin to undermine each other's credibility and worth for the mysterious job, a position which is never defined. In truth, it could be any job-the scope of The Method is much larger than a simple job application. It is no coincidence that during the interview, the city of Madrid is currently under siege by anti-globalization protectors in the streets below. The applicants coolly undergo their rigorous and disorienting testing while the city is torn asunder by those protesting the very corporations these candidates are struggling so hard to be a part of. The film has a lot to say about the state of corporate politics; the contrast is striking, and very critical of its protagonists simply for being there, in this position, interviewing for the mother of all corporate jobs while the world burns outside.
Though I have not seen the play from which The Method is adapted in person, the story seems to translate well to screen. The singular room location creates a tense atmosphere; not quite terror, more like that profuse anxiety sweat you get when waiting in the lobby for that job interview you really want, but secretly doubt you are qualified for. It is also painfully obvious the material here was based on a play; the dialogue, the set, the entire one-room scenario, all tell-tale signs of its dramatic origins. All the tension and conflict stems from the interactions between these seven strangers, united only in their common desire for a single position with the company. The interview brings out the worst in the candidates before too long, as each begins to subtly sabotage each other's chances at advancing to the next round. In The Method, it's a kill or be killed corporate world, and the interviewees stop just short at doing exactly that.
Only the coldest of managerial hearts would fail to see the black comedy elements in The Method, the satirical edges that slice and dice viewers into fits of anxiety. As globalization takes root in the world, as job markets move from regional to international, corporations can now pick and choose the best of the best. Here, we have the employer, a multinational corporation as some mythic, unknowable entity; an all-seeing, all-knowing force that knows every aspect of its employees, laying them bare for all to see. No secret can be kept from them, and if you try; well, there's the door. We don't even know what the company does as a function to earn money. The satire cuts deep. At first glance, the film seems delightfully whimsical; a thriller fueled on all the malevolent, negative personality traits of human beings, set in the most likely of locations-the corporate board room. Then, reality sinks in. After all; anyone who's actually worked in an office would be the first to tell you exactly how honest and accurate The Method is.
Marvelously well-acted, The Method works as a drama almost entirely due to its stellar performances, all impressively convincing. At first, all the candidates are mere business suited cookie cutouts, indistinguishable from one another; but as the hours trickle by and the intense psychological tests continue on, we slowly learn more about each character-not a lot, mind you, but enough to create a sketch. All the dialogue, the behaviors, the reactions seem fully realized as individual personalities. One is a parent, the other is from Argentina. Two are former lovers; one has roots in union activity, while another was a whistleblower in his last job. Slowly, all their secrets are laid bare at the expense of attaining the unobtainable, the exalted job. And once the interview runs down to the last two candidates, things really start heating up. The ending sequence alone is worth the price of admission.
The Method has a washed out and muted style, a no doubt deliberate stylistic choice. Color saturation and black levels are virtually nonexistent; the film is composed almost entirely of steely corporate grays, which suits the film to a tee-the ambiguity of the color palate matches well with the subject matter. It looks good; stylish, you know? However, a noticeable amount of PAL ghosting is present, which is unfortunate.
I didn't get where I am today without knowing a good show when I see it!
What average Joe suffering through the daily grind does not have a bit of Reggie Perrin hidden inside, boiling and bubbling just under the surface?
Reginald Perrin is perhaps the most thoughtful character ever seen in a comedy series. He is a deep and complex man.
Supporting characters each have an unforgettable "trademark" (for lack of a better term)... Sometimes direct, sometimes symbolic -- the creator of Reggie Perrin effortlessly distills the essence of real life oddities.
Brilliant and funny. On the whole, this is the only British comedy I put ahead of MONTY PYTHON and FAWLTY TOWERS. Reginald Perrin is worthy of such a supreme compliment. A sitcom Masterpiece. All else is just Grot.
Comedy-City, Arizona! Super! Great!
Not too bright.
EXCEPTIONALLY WELL QUALIFIED:
Has committed no major blunders to date.
CHARACTER ABOVE REPROACH:
Still one step ahead of the law.
Will stick with us until retirement.
Offers plausible excuses for errors.
TAKES PRIDE IN WORK:
TAKES ADVANTAGE OF EVERY OPPERTUNITY TO PROGRESS:
Buys drinks for superiors.
INDIFFERENT TO INSTRUCTION:
Knows more than superiors.
A real jerk.
TACTFUL IN DEALING WITH SUPERIORS:
Knows when to keep mouth shut.
APPROACHES DIFFICULT PROBLEMS WITH LOGIC:
Finds someone else to do the job.
A KEEN ANALYST:
NOT A DESK PERSON:
Did not go to college.
EXPRESSES SELF WELL:
Can string two sentences together.
SPENDS EXTRA HOURS ON THE JOB:
Miserable home life.
CONSCIENTIOUS AND CAREFUL:
METICULOUS IN ATTENTION TO DETAIL:
DEMONSTRATES QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP:
Has a loud voice.
JUDGEMENT IS USUALLY SOUND:
MAINTAINS PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE:
KEEN SENSE OF HUMOR:
Knows lots of dirty jokes.
STRONG ADHERENCE TO PRINCIPLES:
GETS ALONG EXTREMELY WELL WITH SUPERIORS AND SUBORDINATES ALIKE:
SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE:
OF GREAT VALUE TO THE ORGANIZATION:
Turns in work on time.
IS UNUSUALLY LOYAL:
Wanted by no-one else.
ALERT TO COMPANY DEVELOPMENTS:
An office gossip.
REQUIRES WORK-VALUE ATTITUDINAL READJUSTMENT:
Lazy and hard-headed.
Usually does it the hard way.
Needs more to do.
Paid too much.
Does too much busywork.
Is still able to get work done if supervisor helps.
CONSULTS WITH SUPERVISOR OFTEN:
Pain in the ass.
WILL GO FAR:
Relative of management.
SHOULD GO FAR:
USES TIME EFFECTIVELY:
Finds 22 reasons to do anything except original work.
USES RESOURSES WELL:
Create new title to make h/h feel appreciated.
List aspects of employee's approach which require improvement for greater effectiveness.
Regrettably, I had to put you down as "poor" for "works well with others" and "shares credit appropriately." You had no co-authors on your five papers, and your citations were quite skimpy: no citations at all in your June and September paper, only one citation in your April paper, and not much better on the others. You wrote that your special theory of relativity came to you after a discussion with your friend Michele Besso. But you didn't even acknowledge him in your June paper. This is an area for improvement.
On the other hand, famous physicists are beginning to visit the offices here in Bern; Albert you must make sure that any hours spent in talking to them are subtracted from your time card and made up for later. You are responsible for making sure these visits do not cause a distraction for others in the office.
In addition, I would have to say your output, while at times quite extraordinary, has been inconsistent. In Q1 you managed to publish one paper in the final two weeks of the quarter. In Q2 you improved productivity, with your dissertation in April, the Brownian Motion paper in May, and the Special Relativity paper in June. Not bad for a quarter, not bad at all. But then you seemed to slump: you did finish one paper 3 days before the close of Q3, but it was only 3 pages long. I admit that some reviewers did find it noteworthy, but really, couldn't it have been the conclusion of your June paper? It almost seems like you held it back just to have something to show for Q3. (This flippant, almost disrespectful attitude is also evident in your dissertation: when told by your respected thesis committee that your thesis was too short, you added one sentence.) And then in Q4 -- no publications at all.
You wrote that "A storm broke out in my mind" this year. Let me remind you that our Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) covers up to three psychiatric treatments, should you find them necessary.
You seem to lack a flare for self-promotion. Lucky for us our PR department stepped in and changed your L/c2 equation into the much more marketable E = mc2.
Name of personnel evaluated: Dan Heath
Position: Assistant Barrista
Name of Evaluator: John Dinsmore, Store Manager
Evaluation Period: February 1 through April 30, 2004
1 = excellent
2 = highly effective
3 = satisfactory
4 = requires improvement
5 = unsatisfactory
Willingness to take on responsibility 4
Ability to work effectively with peers 5
Verbal communication skills 4
Organization skills 5
Dan, on January 31 we gave you a performance review that served as a written warning of our concerns about your job performance. Since then we have noticed improvement in some areas. For example, you have stopped pretending that you are a dung beetle. Also, you are doing a better job of making change and no longer insisting that customers "round up." However, your performance in most areas remains unsatisfactory.
We will outline four areas in which we expect to see improvement:
1. Acting responsibly. On March 18, a customer told you that he wanted a large hot coffee, and you told him that "hot costs extra". We both know that there is no such price policy here at Java Jamboree.
On another occasion, we found you wearing a coffee filter over your face and telling customers that you "don't like the way they smell". After offending several dozen customers, you apparently went back to the storeroom and took a nap.
When confronted with these incidents, your defense is invariably that you are "thinking outside the box". Dan, this is not acceptable. We must insist that you get back inside the box. Please remain inside the box until you are notified otherwise.
2. Greeting customers. In your training period, you were taught our GRINTM program for interacting with customers. You have consistently failed to implement GRINTM during your shifts. This is troubling to us because GRINTM is the bedrock of our Customer Compassion Initiative.
Dan, pretending to talk to customers with your belly button is not part of GRINTM (nor is serving customers without a shirt). We reject your defense that it's not a joke and that your belly button really is talking. This behavior is simply not something that we can embrace at Java Jamboree.
In your last review, we insisted that you give each customer a verbal greeting when they enter the store. You have complied, but you have insisted on giving the greeting in the N|u African clicking language. This is not acceptable. We are pleased to have a bilingual employee, but we need you to greet the customers in English. However, if the customer initiates a conversation in the N|u clicking language, you are free to respond in kind.
Finally, please stop telling each customer that her "epidermis is showing". This has not been funny for quite some time.
3. Wearing appropriate attire. On 112 occasions, i.e., every day that you have been to work, you have been cited for inappropriate clothing. To review, we ask that you wear a pressed pair of khakis and a Java Jamboree polo shirt. You may wear comfortable dress shoes or unscuffed hiking boots.
A thong is never appropriate, particularly on your face. Your response, that "You never said I couldn't wear a thong on my face," is unacceptable. Unfortunately, these literalist interpretations of the clothing handbook have become a habit of yours. To our disappointment, you only seem to respond to highly specific instructions.
For this reason, we have compiled the following list of items that are not to be worn as clothing in our stores: FBI ("Federal Breast Inspector") T-shirts, fishnet stockings, any form of underwear worn on the outside of your clothing, Gravedigger tank tops, scarves made of PEZ, infrared goggles, capri pants, trash bags, boxes with arm or leg holes cut out, cling wrap, any article made from human hair, ketchup packets, anvils, gauze, chicken suits or any sort of costume, spray-on hair (on any part of your body except your head), bath mats, and babies. Also, WD-40 is not clothing. We hope this list helps to clear up any confusion you might have.
4. Treating management with respect. You have continued to treat the store management with an oppositional attitude. For example, on April 4, you began a "strike" for barrista health benefits. Dan, you already have health benefits. We reminded you of this, but then you continued to strike for "customer health benefits." This is unacceptable. We simply cannot afford to provide health insurance for our customers. We must also insist that you come back to work immediately and stop defacing the Jamboree Latte-Lovin' MonkeyTM.
This performance evaluation serves as a second written warning that your performance level is unsatisfactory. We expect to see immediate improvements in these areas or we will be forced to consider further disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, termination of your employment and revocation of your employee discount card. If you are unclear about any of these issues, please ask me for clarification, but please stop calling me at 4 am and saying that my epidermis is showing. Dan, it is unacceptable.
Reprinted from 4.26.2004
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