DR. CUMMINGS: Who cares about me?

July 21, 2013 

I hear this all the time: “Who gives a damn about me? All management wants is production: work, work, work and pay as little as possible.”

Is this what American management is all about? I can understand a for-profit manager doing this; after all, without profit his company dies. But what about the non-profit sector? Over 10 million Americans (10 percent of the workforce) work for non-profits and government organizations and many of their managers seem just as insensitive.

Why can’t they see that our workload increases but our pay never does; that we’re asked to do more with less. Don’t they know that the recession is over? Do managers lose their compassion and consideration the moment they step into the corner office? Do they forget what it’s like to be forgotten and ignored? Are they so consumed with their own statistics and metrics that they forget who makes the numbers for them?

Maybe. But so what? What can an individual worker do about it? Even union workers are complaining. If I’m not the owner or the manager, I can’t control the salary scale; I can’t give myself a promotion or a raise or a bonus; I can’t establish the workflow systems; I can’t change our policies. And if our organization doesn’t have an anonymous employee survey -- I can’t even voice my concerns. So what can I do? Two things:

1. I can channel my attitude. I can put aside my frustrations and feelings of futility (unless asked by management) and focus entirely on the “good things” my job offers: my fellow workers, and the work itself. I can make each day a “thing of beauty.”

If that crew of septic tank cleaners in south Georgia could take it on their own to write on their trucks: “We’re the No. 1 company in the No. 2 business,” then all of us can find a little fun in our work.

For example, we can wow our customers: I received a delightful birthday card from George Youmans Chevrolet; how many birthday cards do you send to your customers? It’s a fun thing to do, and it pays off. But if the day comes when I cannot do this; if I find I’m moping around like a prisoner with 20 years and no parole; if my situation becomes unbearable and I cannot maintain my positive attitude, I must move to No. 2.

2. I can quit. I owe it to myself and to my company to look for another job. Life is much too short for me to be unhappy, and in today’s world, jumping from one company to another does not carry the stigma that it used to carry. Line up your contacts, send them all a memo, and ask for their help. But before you make that final leap into the new company, ask the workers who are there -- what it’s really like.

And remember the Golden Rule: “Them what’s got the gold, makes the rules.”

Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corporation and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.

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