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Non Toxic Management

I seem to be off a tear about workplace culture. I suspect it is in part because it has been so very long since I was in a good one! I became a lawyer in the 80s when there was still a shred of civility and honor in the profession. Of course, my first job I was pretty thrilled—I had worked VERY hard to get there. But it was nit a bad place to work, although our offices were cramped. The form was three women friends and me and a few secretaries. It was more like a family than most law offices. I learned a lot.

 

Then I heard that this firm in Los Angeles was hiring. (I got all my jobs through people I knew—often opponents who thought well of me.) I had been doing plaintiff work and this was an insurance defense form—what is now called “captive counsel.” We had a separate office from the insurance side but did not have billable hours. The other attorneys were pretty decent, the hours were reasonable and the location was good. Looking back it seems almost idyllic. (I left for more money and a shorter commute.. and HATED my new job.)

Since then I have not had a law job that was not toxic. So maybe I am prejudices or jaded. But my non law jobs (teaching) have been pretty awful, too. I see corporations placing profit above both employees and customers routinely. So… I think NON toxic workplaces may be the exception. (Anyone reading this who disagrees feel free to chime in.)

Here’s an opinion found on the web: “Meaningful work and a sense of value within the organization are indeed powerful elements of employee engagement. All work is meaningful and valuable (otherwise, why would you be paying people to do it). The trick is for management to help employees see that meaningfulness and personal value, especially during this tough economy and often stressful workplace environment.” http://www.tlnt.com/2011/08/09/a-key-to-better-employee-engagement-having-meaningful-work/

I agree with this chap—but I wonder how many managers do? I know a lot of my military students were in the medical corps, and happy taking care of people. They did not have to worry there about billing or profits, what will they find when they seek employment in the civilian for profit world?

I wonder.

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No, you probably are not an excellent writer…

Sad, but true. I have taught many students– many of them military. Most corpsmen or nurses or radiologists.  They cannot write.  They are deeply concerned about their patients: however, many are non native speakers. They may be potentially terrific employees in the civilian sector–but they have lots of competition and they need to pass the first barrier- GETTING THEIR RESUME READ! (TIP– all the advice you got for free is probably worth what you paid for it.)

Is it “negative” to say many job seekers cannot write well? Probably– but it is no more negative than a correct diagnosis of a patient–if it is accurate. So if you would prefer to skip the job-seeking  step of  knowing your strengths and weaknesses… read no further!

All experts agree, most incoming college students were not skilled writers, even a decade ago. Those seeking degrees in their profession, such as health care, or in, say, IT, do not see a need to write well. (And no one loves slogging through a course that makes them feel stupid, such as composition or–heaven forbid–“critical thinking.”) As a result, those graduating with degrees, even from traditional schools, tend to be poor writers.  (see http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/education/2009/august/What-s-Happening-to-Writing-Skills.html)

Add in the Internet age and the for profit schools.. and you can say with great certainty the “excellent communication skills” requirement in almost every job posting is wishful thinking. (More on what else  employers think that is not realistic in a future blog post.)

Again, the ability to put yourself in  the shoes of the person looking to hire you is of high importance. VERY high. But most people lack this skill. In fact, the skills that produce excellence are not taught in school. And I spent 6 years active and one full year Active Reserve– I know “excellence” is not a part of  military culture. “Close enough for government work”–this was our motto. In fact, definition #4 for “soldier” in Merriam Webster Dictionary is “one who shirks work”.

So, only a few of these military members who are fortunate enough not to be disabled due to combat conditions will be ready to access the exact job that they are a fit for–the the MUTUAL benefit of both employer and employee–and the “consumers” for health care–without some help.