We shall assume that the business is a small non-union operation. Let’s express this problem in another way; ‘your boss has to survive the personalities of his employees or dismiss them’ - which he is entitled to do. (This kind of conflict is handled through stewards in a ‘union shop’.) Of course, there are laws that protect employees from certain kinds of things such as racial and sexual expressions. In this chapter, we are talking about the things that may irritate you a lot but are legal. In almost every case, such conflict is caused by the employee who doesn’t know who he is. Does this surprise you? For starters, ‘everyone’ has some kind of personality and in our system; everyone is free to work for a living in a business. This includes people who may have disagreeable dispositions.
Let’s take the problem of playing favorites. One employee may be overburdened with work and another employee can ‘get away’ with laziness. On the face of it, this is unfair, but further inspection shows that you agreed to do certain work for a certain pay. If that condition has not changed, you really don’t have any complaint. Let’s consider that another employee is paid more money for the same work that you do. If you agreed to do certain work for a certain amount of money, you still have no complaint, regardless of how much another person is paid. What if you are expected to do work that was not mentioned in your job interview? If the work falls in the general category of your job classification, this problem has the same answer. What if your boss steals money from the till? You are not responsible for his behavior. Again, the answer is the same.
What if you are not allowed to take time off on your religious holiday? What if you don’t like the dress requirements? Again, if this is a small non-union business, you still have no complaint, even though similar operations may provide the benefits you seek. (In your case, you may work in a fast food service and you are required to pay for cleaning your company issued uniform while other similar companies do not. You are not likely to change the system, so you leave or stay without complaining.)
The ‘bottom line’ is simply this; you agreed to work for a certain pay. If your working conditions are really bad, such as having inadequate heat in winter, you have a legitimate complaint and it may be the time to discuss this with your boss. Your best option may be to find another job. You are not responsible for the poor management skills of your ‘boss’.
Note; Over 100 years ago, a certain employer required each of the ladies in his typing pool to bring a certain amount of coal for their heating stove. This is an unbelievable situation in today’s world.
Now, let’s take the work situation to a much higher level. You are a secretary in a large corporate office. You are required to do things that are ‘beneath your station’ such as empty a wastebasket, water the plant in the foyer, or maintain the stock in the store room. The answer to the problem remains the same. If the work required of you is necessary to be done as part of the business operation, and if it is reasonable work that you are able to do, the problem is yours and not your boss’. In the whole ‘scheme of things,’ you may not ‘know who you are’ so you can’t properly relate to the situation.
A relative worked in the office of a small family - owned newspaper. Of course, they had regular working hours, except for the family members who also had desks in the office. They worked side by side with the other workers, doing the same kinds of work. One day, one of the family members said, “It’s a nice day. I think I’ll go home and cut my grass,” which he did. There is absolutely nothing ‘unfair’ in this action, even though it gave the others more work to do. Understanding is based on who the people are in this situation. If a worker is disturbed because they have more work to do because the other person left their job, it is because they don’t know who they are.
One of my daughters took a job as secretary to the manager of a small non-union service business. In her employment interview, she was asked if she would also run some personal errands for her boss as part of her job. She said that she would do it as ‘work is work and pay is pay’. She learned that a previous applicant for the job was turned down because such work was beneath her status as a secretary.
60 years ago, I worked for a telephone company as a ‘switchman’. The job included maintaining all of the central office equipment that responds to your telephone when you make or receive a phone call. The power to operate the telephone system was provided by a room full of batteries similar to the ones we have in automobiles, but much larger. The room and the batteries were scheduled to be serviced every 2 months. This was dangerous and dirty work as each battery had to be examined and cleaned as the acid levels were inspected and corrected if necessary, the Sulfuric acid used is very unforgiving if you get it on your skin or in your eye and I would spend an entire day handling the stuff.
I was not aware of this at the time I was hired, but there was a political struggle between the members of the company management, and I was hired by the head of a department who was actively embroiled in the conflict. My immediate ‘boss’ was a member of the other ‘political party’ in the company. (Please read the chapter; Surviving Company Politics.) He ‘took out’ his animosity against the one who hired me by abusing me. After I had worked on this job for several months, my boss assigned me to service the battery room every week. He had the responsibility and privilege of assigning this work in any way he decided. I was doing the work that I agreed to do for the pay that I received, so I really had no complaint. I did, however, find another job.
It is all about knowing who you are, isn’t it? There is no way that you can understand who other people are if, first, you don’t have a realistic understanding of who you are. ‘Knowing who you are’ is discussed in the chapter; ‘Surviving Yourself’.