Behind the scenes
Something is going on in our department that I do not like the sound of. Or rather it is the lack of something that concerns me. That something is communication. There seems to be a singular lack of it between even the lowest levels of management; i.e. our supervisors and the front line troops. The shop floor rumour mill has gone into creaking, shuddering overload.
Let me paint in a little background; up until a few months ago, the lower echelons got along (More or less) without a problem. Recently however this has changed.
From the top down it’s been all stick and no carrot. The pressure has been relentless. Veiled and not so veiled threats of disciplinary action for minor infractions. Constant checks on what you are doing and where you have been, no matter that you’re not doing anything wrong; arbitrary spot checks have become routine.
My own coping strategy has been to keep out of the office and mess room as much as is humanly possible; to stay away from the gossipmongers and backstabbers. If challenged, I am doing what I should be doing when I should be doing it. (and yar boo sucks to you pal!) Despite this, even I am under suspicion of bunking off, even though the reverse is true. I’m not surprised that the less mentally robust are crumbling under the strain. The numbers of people getting physically ill and having time off sick with ‘stress’ has shown a considerable increase. Instead of the occasional one, there’s been four or maybe five off work at any one time. Under the circumstances it’s no wonder we’re becoming short handed.
From my albeit limited experience, this is a massive danger signal in any organisation. Guys at the coalface always bitch and complain, it’s their privilege. There’s always a certain amount of grumbling, but of late these sources of disquiet have been shutting down. Now we’ve got to the point where certain people have begun to huddle in conspiratorial little groups. Certain others have been cut out of the loop and almost ‘sent to Coventry’. Where once there was a moderately ribald crew there is now a wall of whispers. Common pleasantries are not observed. They have been replaced with veiled suspicion and hostility; up and down the chain of command. We’ve stopped talking. Meetings have ‘closed agenda’s’, discussion of the obvious is being inadvertently suppressed.
An ugly rumour has begun to spread that the front line are being treated in this manner to pave the way for a private company to take over parking enforcement in our area. I do not want to be living here when that happens. If the people of our area think that we’re bad, they should wait until the ‘bottom line’ quota driven privations of a private company take over. However, this is purely rumour and surmise, with no obvious evidence to indicate that it is so.
My personal view; well as a keen and often enforced student of human nature out in the great laboratory of the streets, I prefer the ‘cock-up’ postulate to the conspiracy theory view. The conspiracy option seems to be the least likely. We are dealing with less than competent management who don’t seem to see what is right under their noses. They treat everyone with suspicion instead of grasping the nettle and using the chain of command to deal with the specifically erring elements. They trust the misinformation of a minority instead of talking directly to their workforce. They are becoming more remote. People are increasingly going straight to the Union instead of addressing the issues there and then, because the bond of trust that a workforce and their Management need to function has been foundering on the rocks of prejudice, suspicion, arrogance and rumour. From both ends of the argument.
I may be wrong; but long experience says otherwise and I do not care to get my head bitten off in public for stating the obvious.
Whichever is the case, I’m busy job hunting. TTFN.