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On a Personal Note - Working for Intangibles
I Started a new job recently. Its like the other jobs I've held in many regards. The pattern that I notice centers around the idea that workers should be motivated by intangible rewards, things like:
Pride - Accountability - Responsibilty - Personal Relationships - Loyalty - Comptetiveness
Now, these are all good qualities for individuals to posses. But I am always left with the nagging question whenever I've just been assailed with another pep talk about working hard and being proud; namely "Why should I subscribe to such altruistic notions when the company I work for is single mindedly focused on Profit?"
Well, the answer is not so simple. The problem isn't that you feel a sense of loyalty for the people you work with. You are going to form bonds with people, its the nature of the beast. You are going to feel pride in your accomplishments. That's the heart of creativity. But you are a human being not a brainless entity like a business. So while the company demands that you generate larger and larger amounts of revenue (a tangible) it expects that you will accept intangibles as compensation. At each of the jobs I've worked I have heard the same phrase in some form or another that goes like this:
"Hey, you guys, great job, the company made truckfull of money, you should be proud of yourselves, you did good!"
"Hey, you guys, Store so and so across town is doing better business than we are, we can do better than them right?!"
My cynical mind calls up a few choice phrases that I would like to use but never will because of the inevitable repercussions of speaking my mind. Such as...
"Hey, I don't work for pride, I work for M O N E Y!"
"The more you pay me the more I work!"
"Can I use this pride to pay my bills?"
"If we beat other people do we get anything?"
Of course the world that the corporation lives in is one of self interest while the world its employees are expected to inhabit is one of self sacrifice. It would be sacrilegious to ask a company to do anything out of a sense of pride, or loyalty or a sense of responsibilty. We have come to expect that businesses act out of complete and open self interest. They never forgive our debts if we ask nicely. They never help anyone or thing without expecting recognition or something in return. They never offer more money or benefits to their employees unless they have to. Individuals that run companies may decide to do so but never do publically held companies. Depriving additional money from the shareholders is sin number one. Corporations that ignore this cardinal rule suffer a heinous fate. This leaves no room for compassion.
So every time I go to work I must feign undying loyalty and devotion to a company that chastises me on a daily basis, pats me down to see if I'm stealing and watches my every move to make sure that I'm making them money. And I'm amazed at the extent to which this atmosphere is accepeted as not just ordinary but necessary.
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