52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

this is the job that people die for....

As I was walking into the office this morning, I noticed that a great big sign had been stuck up outside the front door. It said, in really big letters underneath the company logo, "Support Office". It might have been there for months for all I know, but today was the first time that it caught my attention, and I think The Man intends this to be a significant moment. I can't remember if there was a sign there before, but since time immemorial, the building where I work has been known as "Head Office". We're predominantly a retailer, so the change is supposed to symbolise that we're here purely to service the stores and we're not in any way to be seen, or to think of ourselves, as superior.

Actually, I can see where they're coming from: the money that pays my wages ultimately comes from the money that goes into the tills in our shops and I think the people who work here would do well to remember that. I'm sure most big companies are the same, but most of the rubbish and the silly rules and the nonsensical processes that end up cluttering up the stores and making life there a misery have their origins in some stupid brainstorm by some half-cut nuggets with shiny shirts, big-knotted ties and pointy shoes all sat in a meeting room in front of a flipchart and about to break for latte. The building is actually in the East Midlands, but it might as well be on the moon for all the proximity some of the people working here have with the sharp-end. Putting a big sign up in front of the building and trying to change what people call the place can't do any harm, can it?

You see? I'm trying not to be cynical about the change and I'm actually embracing it as at best being representative of a more positive inclusive culture and at worst meaning bugger all. I'm trying. I'm really trying. After all, it's my perceived cynicism and reluctance to take the things that I'm told at face value that is probably the reason that I've got a job and not a career. So hell, why not embrace the change with a smile instead of a shrug?

.....but then again, it was only a couple of years ago that The Man also decided that we were no longer "staff" but should instead be referred to as "colleagues". Apparently that's more respectful and implies that we are less employees and more stakeholders in the taking the business forwards together. Partners, even. They were dead serious about this too: at great expense we had to change the messages that appear on the tills informing our customers that "staff" nearby would be happy to help, and replace them with a new phrase involving the word "colleague". Unfortunately, the character limit on the till screen meant that the message had to be completely rejigged to include the longer word and now didn't really make any sense.....but it symbolised a real change in the way the company worked and how we could push on together to bigger and better things. Onwards and upwards! Today: selling nailbrushes, support stockings and toe-clippers to pensioners. Tomorrow: the world!

The Man knows best. You don't get to be a senior manager at a grand old company like this without having some smarts, eh? eh? ......but as long as we still have staff rooms, staff discount cards and staff numbers and so on, please don't expect me to think of the change as anything other than tokenism. A tokenism, what's more, that takes all us staff colleagues for idiots who will credulously swallow this crap down as if it was actually worth a damn.

So Support Office?

Perhaps I'll reserve my judgement for now, eh?

Plus, when it really comes down to it, they can call the damn place whatever they want for all I care. Why set the limit of your ambitions at "Support Office"? Why not "Valhalla, I am coming" or "Xanadu" or "BUY MORE TOOTHPASTE, FOOLS" or perhaps even "LOOK ON MY WORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAIR, FOR I AM THE HAMMER OF CAPITALISM".... Call it what you damn well please, it'll always be a small circle of hell to me, and the day I forget that is the day I might as well curl up and die as I will have given up.

...This, in a nutshell, is the reason I will never, ever reach the giddy heights of senior management.



  • At 8:36 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    You are a Funployee! (I do hope you've seen Clerks II)... look up what Wal Mart call their slaves.. maybe a company motto should be "DESTROY THE COMPETITION. RULE THE WORLD. SERVE THE PUBLIC NEED"... like some kind of besuited Robocop.

  • At 8:39 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    ....obviously I've seen Clerks II!

    The company's actual motto is something grandiose, global (and yet strangely specific) and is displayed in huge letters on the sign outside the main gate. Saying it in huge letters MAKES it true, you know.

  • At 7:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not had your morning coffee yet mate?

    Don't worry, we're 'associates' here - like I'd want to be associtated with any of them.

    Hmmm, perhaps its time for my afternoon top up joe.....


  • At 9:00 am, Blogger Threelight said…

    Hah, I'm called a "colleague" as well (on a good day).


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