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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane - With Fudge

Last weekend a friend and I made 9 x 13 pans of wonderful fudge.

Today I tried to take it through security at the airport.

When you take two ends of a 9 x 13 pan of fudge and stick them right on top of each other wrapped in wax paper and put them in your carry-on - they become "notable" per the TSA.
(Might look like a block of explosives.)

When I went through security they said "There is something noteable in this bag."  
They took me by the elbow, led me and my bag to the area for further security screening.
I looked at him and said "It's just fudge." 
They took my bag apart piece by pice, inspected the wax wrapped fudge "four" different times.  Ran it thru the x-ray machine 3 times. 

And I kept saying "It's just fudge."

If they would let me take a knife through security - I would have brought a knife and "cut them off" a nice piece of fudge.

The moral of the story - it you want your cooking to get noticed - just take it through TSA.

From a kiosk outside the TSA station at the airport - I had to write -
Merry Christmas to all - and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Equity at Work? Probably Not.

Today – according to my boss is a 14 hour day to complete “my work”.  A salaried person is required to put in as many hours (more or few [hah! - always more]) that is needed to complete their work.    That’s ok, I like getting a paycheck in today’s economy.  But I can’t help but think about equity.
Yep, today is a 14 hour day for me and I can’t help but think about equity.  (We have an equity issue here – why in the hell is today a 14 hour day for ME! – no one else, just ME!)  (Not sour grapes, just processing, mulling and trying to be cathartic about my perceived inequity at work.)
In really simple terms - equity is when an employee looks at what they are “putting out” and compares it what they are getting in return.  When the employee(s) thinks they are “putting out” more than what they are getting – the whole workplace system becomes imbalanced and goes to crap.  AND this feeling of inequity may in fact not be real – and has nothing to do with “reality”.  BUT - the inequity is perceived by the employee and their perceptions are their reality – so it is real to them.
I taught management for many years and told my students that it doesn’t matter how technically adept you are in your field if your employees do not view you as a fair and equitable manager – you’re screwed.  Once you lose the trust of your employees – you don’t get it back.  When you show favoritism to any employee or group of employees at the expense of other workers – you’re screwed.  Yet over and over again managers choose to do this.  Time and again managers choose to show preferential treatment for one person or a group of people – when managers do this, they are pissing everyone else off – so you just screwed yourself.
One of the reasons I quit teaching is because graduate students started coming into the classroom with a dismissive attitude to the great thinkers and theories of our field and repeatedly I heard something like, “What I really need to know I will learn on the job.  I’m only here because I need a degree.”  I blame business for that change in attitude – and business has gotten what they deserve – poorly educated and poorly trained management – but they have college degrees.  (and it doesn’t matter where they graduate from – the worst CEO I have ever worked for graduate from Wharton.)  Because of that misguided thinking (by business and students) we have managers in our workforce who do not understand the concept of equity and do not understand the implications of perceived inequity in the workplace or the ramifications of preferential treatment in the workplace (legally or just personally).  (More about this issue some other day.) 
If you work for a large company you may have an explicit employee handbook that is hundreds of pages long; you may have regular work-law seminars for your managers; and may have an explicit procedures manual for you supervisors and managers.  But most employees in today’s world do not work for a large company – they work for medium and small companies that do not have explicit handbooks and manuals or available training and for the most part have crappy – discriminatory management.  Those employees working for medium and small companies for the most part experience equity issues and fairness issues at least once a week, if not every day. 
Oh, and by the way if you naïve enough to think management “does the right thing” from a legal perspective, think again – discrimination of all sorts, against all classes happens every day, in the workplace.
Some of you really naïve (aka stupid) managers are saying “I’m discreet - my employees do not “know” what the inequities are, where the favoritism is, when preferential treatment happens.”  My response to you – You are a fool (and probably well educated, but a fool).  You do not know your workforce.  And someday I hope they kick your ass to the curb – just because or because someone sues you, YES!
What do equity issues in the workplace look like (there's millions of examples)?
Salaried employees who are allowed to take flex or comp time hour for hour for an hour that they feel was over and above their “40 hours” per week.  (And yes there are salaried employees who think flex/comp time is calculated on the number of hours they worked that week – an “hourly” mentality.) 
Giving a person or group of people a “bonus” – just for doing their job.  They did nothing over and above, they just did the job they were hired to do – and yet….they get a bonus when no one else does.
And there’s the whole male / female thing.  I can’t believe how many times  I have seen or heard management make decision which are blatantly sexist.  My most favorite in the past couple of years was a management decision that sounded like this - a male employee who needs to earn more money than his female counterpart – because he had a family to support and she was single.  So wrong, on so many levels.
I had a receptionist that came to me at one point and tell me that they hear complaints about their work at least once a week.  I thought to myself (but didn’t say it out loud)  – “Lucky you, you are the favored child” – everyone else here gets bitched at or hears complaints about their work daily – not fast enough, not good enough, not exactly what I wanted.  Here we have an equity issue based only on feedback – but it is affecting the entire office.

Just thought of this one - management team goes out for a two hour holiday lunch at an expensive restaurant, employees have a half-hour pot-luck.
And I’ll quit with my favorite – hourly employees who get docked for anything and everything and every minute is counted.  Where in contrast you have salaried employees ( who, of course, did work at home last night”) who regularly take long lunches, who regularly show up at the office for maybe 6 hours a day, and complain that no one else is doing their part.    Talk about the conundrum - the hourly feel unfairly treated when they look at the behavior of the salaried AND the salaried (who aren’t in the office a lot) feel the hourly aren’t doing their part.  (Oh I can hear a lot of salaried people pissing and moaning right now – my graduate students use to piss and moan about this statement.)
Inequity, lack of fairness, preferential treatment
·         Sucking the life out of companies
·         Sucking the productivity out of our companies
·         Sucking the commitment out of people
alive and well in business and industry and it sucks.