Breaking the cycle

As controversial as the Australia Day long weekend is, I’m happy to have an extra day to myself.

It seems like this is always happening, needing the time to think through things. That’s symptomatic of things being pretty bad. Each time I go through this process they’re bad, and each time nothing really comes of it because I have so few feasible options.

I’m really talking about work here. It’s a mediocre, middlingly corrupt organisation generally happy to exploit both customers and employees. That could be a hundred different places. That’s the broader picture. Zoom in and there’s me, underpaid for so long and generally under-valued, but committed to getting the job done right. I put my heart and soul into it despite my misgivings, because that’s who I am. I focus on the work.

That’s fine, my choice, etc, but every time it feels like a punch to the gut to discover they couldn’t care less about the effort I put in and how, despite the work I’ve done, they disregard any constructive contribution I make. No-one knows the stuff I’ve built better than me, but there’s zero acknowledgement of that, no feedback to communications, and when I send on detailed recommendations and proposed next steps I get no response – ever.

I have to admit what I think I’ve long known: they don’t care, and no matter what I do it will never be enough to make a difference to them. I’m in the position of an abused employee.

I have to wonder why this is. I think some of it systemic process ineptitude. A lot of managers have been with the company since day one and never been exposed to the rigours of a competitive, contemporary and professional marketplace. Because of that there are cliques that resent any challenge to it, and who look out for each other – and so a cosy mediocrity is perpetuated.

Structurally, it’s a confused looking business. Most organisations have either a classic pyramid or flatter structure, but this one is like a bowl of spaghetti with lines going everywhere. It makes for great inefficiency and shocking communication.

You walk into this business and you either toe the line or you push back. By nature, I push back. The people I work for toe the line. So ultimately it comes down to me. I suspect some managers resent me making proposals to them and pitching ideas. Clearly, the proposals are generally sound because often times they are adopted, but without any reference to me, and delegated to another (manager) to implement. Is it any wonder I feel disenfranchised?

Everyone knows I’m smart, but I’ve also got a masculine, direct style. I suspect as a male presence I might confront some of my fellow blokes. I get comments sometimes about how I’m a private schoolboy, about how I live near the beach in the nicer suburbs too, enough that it makes you wonder about it. In that way it’s different from anywhere else I’ve ever worked – I’m one of the minority who don’t live out west.

Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is I’m not going anywhere here.

I met with the CEO of the chatbot mob I’m working with the week before last. The first thing he said was to ask me what my plans where when I was finished with this project? I was surprised by his question as if he had read my mind. I told him I would see what opportunities were within the business but wasn’t keen to go back to my previous function. I would look elsewhere if necessary.

He reiterated what a great job I had done and suggested that surely opportunities would open up on the back of that? I wasn’t sure then, but now I’m almost certain that nothing will because nothing is recognised. He also said to me that if I choose to leave then he could probably get me a job either with him or with one of his clients.

There’s that possibility. One thing I know I have to break this cycle – I have to remove myself from what is basically an abusive relationship.

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