Saturday, July 25, 2015

How My Work Works

Pretty much everyone who read my last post expressed dismay at the hiring situation I described.  Since I have been sick ever since last week, and basically have not left the house or had any interesting experiences whatsoever, I will take this week's blog post to explain, how my work works, sort of.

(Don't be too worried.  I am gradually getting better.  It's kind of hard to tell, but my weak, pathetic sick-person croak of a voice has gotten a little stronger by the end of this week; I've stopped feeling feverish; and I can breathe a little easier with each passing day.  I did see a doctor, who examined me in around 0.5 seconds (ear, ear, throat, two deep breaths, done) and decreed that there is no need for antibiotics, now close your germ-hole and get the hell out of my office.  So I guess I'm just waiting for my immune system to fight the good fight in its own time.)

Right.  So, it's like this.  My workplace is a business that caters to professionals (I won't say what type, but picture lawyers, or dentists, or engineers maybe) who each have a private practice within the facility, and pay monthly overhead fees (a percentage of their earnings) for rent on their offices and support staff.  Therefore, they are our customers.  At the same time, their customers are our customers.  Technically I have no authority over the professionals.  Even my bosses, at the top level of the organization, have no authority over them.

It's a tricky dance to work under these circumstances.  The professionals have a governing organization that they're answerable to.  If they are misbehaving, we have the option of informing the governing body, but that has not had the greatest results in the past.  Firstly, the governing body, like all such organizations, is a mixed blessing.  It does some good and necessary work, and is also filled with busy-body bureaucrats who like to come around with their proverbial white gloves on, hoping to find problems, and sometimes making up problems if they can't find any.  If we invite them to pay attention to our organization, we might seriously regret opening that can of worms.  Exactly the same can be said of the Ministry of Labour, which governs all workplaces in Ontario.  We've learned the hard way that asking such organizations to police our professionals causes as many problems as it solves.

When it comes to policing them ourselves, that's also a losing game.  Asking for cooperation works to a point, but if they decide that they don't give a damn, what can we do?  There are plenty of other, similar businesses which they could move to, where the management is much less concerned with being fair, safe, and legal.  If we're not the best of the bunch, we're right up there, from what I've heard.

With regards to the particularly demanding, agist old fellow that I was working with last week, it's hard enough getting him to accept that he has to pay his assistant for statutory holidays, for example.  Or allow her to have regular breaks.  In fact, if I can find anyone who can put up with him, and who he will accept by his perfectionist standards, it's a dang miracle.  In the rest of the organization, I assure you that I have hired all ages, both genders, and many ethnicities.  On the balance, my workplace is as equal-opportunity as I can make it.  If this particular old grumpus demands a youthful face, then I'll find one for him.  I have to pick my battles with him.

The grumpus is one of the highest-grossing professionals in our company.  That means that his overheads subsidize the pay of more workers than just his own assistant, including at least two 60-year-olds I work with.  If we gave him an ultimatum and he went to work somewhere else, more than one person might lose their job besides his assistant.  I haven't seen the exact numbers, but this is what I've been told.

So, that's the big picture.  Now you know why we put up with him.  It's not just the money; he actually is extremely good at what he does.  And when it comes to his clients, he's super-nice and helpful.  He'll do more for them than some of his more outwardly charming colleagues.  He holds himself to the same crazy, workaholic, no-break standards as his assistants.  He's a bit of a nut, but if you met him you'd probably end up liking him, despite yourself.  I know I do, at least half of the time.


LL Cool Joe said...

"Both genders" what about the other genders too? ;)

Everyone has a good and a bad side, well apparently, so I can understand what you mean about the boss.

Btw I'm glad you are feeling better. :)

Sparkling Red said...

LL Cool Joe, if we have more than two genders at my workplace, I'm not aware of it. However, all the letters in the LGBTQI-did-I-miss-any? alphabet are most welcome. :-)

Vanessa T said...

I am so sorry you're still feeling sick, but I am glad you're starting to feel better! No doubt the stresses you've been under haven't helped in the health department at all. You need someone to cater to you like you cater to everyone else. HR is one of the hardest positions to be in, I've heard.

I have a much better grasp of your work now, so thank you for that! And I totally get what you mean by picking your battles - it's not a whole lot different from parenting, lol.

Feel better soon, hon. I'm praying for you. *hugs*

DarcKnyt said...

Wow, Spark, no WONDER you're a corporate Wonder Woman! (Or is it Wonder Person to avoid offending anyone?) What a tricky tight rope to walk. I wouldn't make it, and having navigated those waters as long as you have means you're super-skilled and savvy. I salute you.

On the matter of health, we'll say a prayer in our house for your recovery. I'm glad to hear you're feeling better, but boy, it sure does sound worse than the usher-you-through-the-numbers doctor would have you believe. At any rate, I hope the buggaboos work out of your system sooner rather than later.

PhilipH said...

Sounds like you need to be diplomatic, circumspect and tolerant to mention a few business virtues.

Have you a vacancy for me? I'd be perfect (not).

So sorry that you have been a few degrees under, so to speak. Your doctor seems a tad abrupt with almost a 'couldn't be bothered' bedside manner. We've all met 'em at times, from the "take these pills for a fortnight and if they don't help, come and see me again" through to the "it's not a medical problem, it's all in your mind" insinuating that you've been reading too many Google symptoms.

Sincere best wishes for a swift return to full good health. xx

Lynn said...

So sorry you have to go through that. Hope you are feeling better.

Snowbrush said...

I appreciate the clarification.

“Since I have been sick ever since last week, and basically have not left the house or had any interesting experiences”

I believe that some of your most interesting experiences might very well occur—not so much when you’re sick—as when your life is completely lacking in outside stimuli because that’s when you’re the least distracted from your deepest self. The rest is, to a large extent, a role. I’ve read of professionals who fell apart when they could no longer work because that role, they didn’t know who they were. So it is that your role was temporarily taken from you.