16 September 2006

38. Management

Dear management,

I saw a bumper sticker about you the other day that made me laugh. It said:
The folks who brought you the labor movement.
I'm sure you probably recognize this as a parody of the slogan: "The labor movement: the folks who brought you the weekend", but I like that saying so much I repeat it every chance I get, so there you go.

But here's the really funny thing, and the thought I'm not entirely sure that funny bumper sticker was meant to inspire: When I think about what was needed to bring about the labor movement, I think about organization, motivation, and a sense of fairness adding up to a collective pursuit of social justice. But organization, motivation, and fairness... these are all qualities I want in anybody I work with, not just the managers but maybe them especially.

Maybe that is what that bumper sticker is all about: the fact that it took awesome managerial skills to direct a movement that created major political change. Maybe it says, enough with the "us versus them" rhetoric. Or maybe it's a little more ambiguously corporate newspeak than that, something like: "Bad management makes you want justice; good management helps you create it." Heh.

Either way, thought-provoking stuff, in that ha-ha, only serious way I seem to have about me all the time lately. It's been four months since I started my new gig (like a new job, only at the same employer) and people are still referring to me as a manager, although I keep explaining that really, I'm not: I just do lots of paperwork, I can't hire or fire or even schedule anybody. And I try to do my job the same way I've always tried to work: responsibly, with intent, good organization, and fairness. And I guess to be completely honest, I should admit that I saw that bumper sticker over six months ago, before my job was anything that could be described with the word "manager", before my sort-of promotion, which more than anything else was just an escape from a department in turmoil brought on by — you guessed it — new management.

I don't know what else to say. I'd like for this letter to end with some kind of clever remark, maybe a quotation from whatever philosopher or philosophers famous for discussing the difference between "should" and "is". But (since I'm writing this letter mostly for myself, and you're an abstract concept, and thus unlikely to complain), as manager, employee, and customer of my little writing project, I'm willing to let well enough alone for this particular chapter. If nothing else, there's nothing to stop me from coming back and fixing the ending later.


Started 8 March 2006; rediscovered, rewritten, and published 16 September 2006. Title abridged 1 December 2011.