Power and Privilege

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I’ve got a friend of mine who once worked for me and then decided he wanted to climb the corporate ladder. Funny thing was that he never struck me as that ambitious and we talked about career goals and all that. Anyway, he jumped several jobs and by making the right connections got promoted to a pretty big position.

Anyway, he’s been doing a lot of corporate travel these days and posting a lot of pictures. The latest were from atop some mountain where they had gone for a series of internal meetings. To be clear, I’m not really a mountain person and I have no desire to go anywhere for corporate meetings. That’s not the point here.

And it is nothing against this guy. He wanted the responsibility and position and went out and got it. More power to him. It is about the message that this sends. There is nothing that really rubs me the wrong way more than corporations setting up people as better just based on a position.

I can pretty much guarantee that there are very few (if any) low level workers enjoying the scenery. Most likely directors and the like sitting around all day talking about nothing and feeling important and then taking time to go enjoy the view.

Now, he is in a different division and that division is doing a little better than my own but the mixed messages are great. We’ve had two big rounds of downsizing in our division because they needed to cut costs but there is plenty of money to send however many people they sent to some mountain retreat to do whatever it is they are doing.

And it the company’s money and they can do what they want with it. I know that there is no real equity in the corporate world. They couldn’t just move money around to keep people working. That’s just not how things are done. Even if it is some kind of reward the clear message it sends is get the heck out of my old division. That ship is sinking fast and the rest of the company is just sitting back and watching.

It isn’t just division because they do this with managers vs everyone else. Several years ago, they started using “leaders” in all e-mails directed at us manager types. As if calling someone a leader actually makes them a leader. No, all it really does is reinforce the notion in some heads that they are better than the rest. I saw an article about humility being the best trait a leader could have and this runs a bit counter to that.

I will say that there is a part of me that believes in a meritocracy. People at higher levels do make decisions that are a bit more important to the company than people at the lower levels. You would hope that they would actually put people capable of that in those positions but that’s a topic for another day. I guess what I going for is that I don’t have a problem with people at higher levels being paid more.

But when you start handing out other perks, you start to lose me. When you tell people to cut costs but the “lead team” is still free to fly all over just to meet, well that sends the wrong message. The decisions they make (if they make any) are certainly important but they aren’t entitled to special treatment just on the basis of a title. At least they shouldn’t be in my opinion. If you make the rules, then you should play by them as well. Otherwise you’re really just a hypocrite.

Gee, all this guy did was post some beautiful mountain scenery and it just triggered me to rant a bit. But this is why I really never belonged in the corporate world in the first place. Good news is that it is time for me to go dance and forget about all that.

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