Some days, it’s just difficult for me to resist. Poking fun at language and usage.
Especially with the business community.
Whenever I worked for big organizations, it seemed that some managers were always trying to justify their existence by constantly rebranding the old with a new term, or maybe even coming up with a new label and experiment to further dehumanize the workforce. After all, it’s easier to mistreat staff and dispose of them that way.
One of my most despised manager’s famous quotes was: “Attrition is our friend.”
I mean, how do you justify having 400 managers for a 400-bed hospital? And yes, I worked at such a place as an RN. I used to joke, although it wasn’t that funny, that each patient could have their own personal billing executive, but they had to share their nurse with six other patients. And when a patient died, I quipped, “I guess we can fire his manager now.”
Yes, I’m back with some more buzz words and phrases from the working community. 😊
I’m really not sure why I pay attention anymore since I’m no longer in the workforce, but I’m still fascinated by the never-ending coining of words and phrases that try to put a new coat of paint on the old industrial age management practices – low wages, long hours, and horrible working conditions. Just like my dislike of the phrase “human resources” that implies we are all just another log to throw on the fire, to be burnt up and the ashes discarded. No longer are we “persons” who report to the “personnel office.”
Today’s fun terms are “Hot Desking” and the “Matthew Effect.”
With “Hot Desking,” it seems that some managers decided to play musical chairs at the office. Instead of individualized, assigned work-spaces for each employee, they utilize an open bay area with less desks then there are employees.
The term originated, according to Wiki, “from the naval practice of “hot racking,” where sailors on different work shifts on the ship share the same bunks – you only need a third of the bed space with alternating work shifts. But how many times do you need to wash the sheets??? Ewwwh!
It’s also been analogized to “non-reservation-based hoteling.” So multiple workers must use the same physical work station during different time periods during the day.
The positives are touted to be a cost savings on expensive office-space real estate, the promotion of flexible work hours, and synergies obtained when co-workers are allowed to mingle, group or team up with other people they like to work with. And apparently, some companies also designate who belongs in what groups or they create “neighborhoods” by color-coding walls, mouse-pads, or digital name plates (so you can change the name each time a different person sits down), and then directing its workers to the “red zone” or the “blue zone,” where employees need to be segregated based upon their assigned duties.
The disadvantages seem more obvious.
No worker has a permanent work space, meaning they have to carry their stuff to a new work station each day. No personalization of the office allowed. There is no clear hierarchy of who is boss, unless permanent desks are assigned to certain individuals, and doing that can foster jealousy and a great deal of disharmony as generally workers don’t like dramatic displays of favoritism, power, and inequity.
If you don’t show up early, you might not get a desk to work from and have to stand around and wait for the next shift. Or you could end up in the “purple zone,” where you’re alienated from the rest of the team you should be working with. Or you can just imagine the “Black Friday Sale” style rush when the doors of the company open at 8:00 am and the crowd scrambles for a choice desk, kicking, punching, and stomping their way to that prized hallow by the only window in that tenebrous, ashen, and somber athenaeum.
So, I suppose you can argue it either way.
Hot desking can increase communication and productivity or totally demolish it. Either way, to me, it’s just another way to dehumanize and homogenize the workforce. Like the military, every soldier must look alike so the commanders don’t mind if half of them get killed because there are more replacements that look exactly the same for you to send into battle.
Blue zone, get to the front lines!
Next, we have the “Matthew Effect.” And the context this was described in had to do with success in getting funding for scientific research. The Matthew Effect can be summarized as early success increases the chances of future success. Or, a more Biblical analogy being, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer – a reference to Matthew 25:29, referred to as the “parable of talents.”
It seems peer-reviewed research bears this out, that an initially fortunate scientist’s recognition is self-perpetuating while an equally talented, or even more talented scientist, remains unappreciated. Said another way, the early winner “enjoys both resource and status advantage setting into motion a cumulative advantage process of increasing distinction.”
Numerically speaking, the scientist who wins an early career award, even by the slimmest of margins, is two-and-a-half times more likely to win additional career awards. And obtaining research funding in this manner is not reflective of a superior scientific proposal or the quality of the scientific work. Thus, mediocrity kills creativity.
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.” ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
This reminds me a bit of law school. The ranking system for grades is highly competitive and supposed to be anonymous. Getting a job once you’re out of school will depend on your class rank. Yet it seems those scoring highest in the first semester were extremely difficult to unseat once they attained that status, despite declining work performance. Hummmm . . .
I learned a great lesson from my Dad years ago. During his 20-year career in the Air Force, while working at the Pentagon, he had been given a four-year tour in the Officer Assignment Division. He matched and recommended other officers for positions of rising rank and responsibility. He told me that he always chose the B+ or A- candidates because experience had always proved out that these officers worked harder. They had more motivation to perform and succeed. The A+ candidates had already achieved a certain level of success and were lazy, allowing their reputation and past success provide the momentum for their advance while producing inferior work.
Dad gave the poor a chance to get richer 😊
Stay tuned, I’m sure I’ll be back with more fun terminology as soon as some manager articulates a new buss word. In fact, if I can find it, I’ll come back with a post where after attending a seminar, I strung all the buzzwords together to try to make a coherent statement. It works! It sounds very important but says absolutely nothing.
Photo: I had a tough time deciding on a feature pic for this one. But I went with this fisherman in the Rocky Mountains. Depending on his effort, and maybe a little luck, he will or will not succeed in catching a fish. And his fishing stories about the “one that got away” at the end of the day won’t reflect his actual success, but he still may get the award for best fisherman. And I sure like this office arrangement. It’s beautiful no matter where I set up my work station.
I know, not so good analogies, but hey, as I learned from my good blogging friend Victoria Ray, presentation is key. I hoped to draw you in with this peaceful and meditative nature scene, while busting a little on the workplace environment 🙂