A goal that I hope to achieve is to learn from the mistakes of others. While we each must make our own mistakes and thereby grow into maturity, can we not also learn from the mistakes of those generations before us and our peers? The prickles are all ruffled up this evening–so bear with me as I try to learn from these common mistakes I see around me.

May I not punish someone for their competency.

It’s a bizarre world we live in–particularly in workplace settings. In numerous places of employment, I have seen workers essentially punished for being competent. They are given a greater share of the workload and a more difficult portion of the workload simply because they are competent and their superiors know that the work will be done and be done correctly. While you could argue that it’s the way to provide a person advancement and opportunities (and while I would agree that increased responsibility should ideally lead to that), I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about people in the same tier of job where one person is essentially coddled because of their inadequacies and another is given more difficult projects, clients, expectations, etc. Particularly when the extra effort is not recognized or incompetency is passively or actively rewarded, it becomes a punishment for the ones who are competent. It drives people away from their jobs, away from being willing to put in extra time and effort, and can give a disgust towards superiors.

May people tell me the truth, even when it isn’t the sugarcoating I want to hear.

As children we are taught to tell the truth; as adults we are continually retrained to lie.

And this, friends, starts at the job interview. Despite all of the articles advising that a person “be themselves” and “be truthful” during a job interview, everyone lies. Like children trying to perform on the most subjective test imaginable, we are seeking to make the most right answer to the question laid before us. Our grade or reward is whether or not we get the job.

From there, in many situations, it deteriorates. Many superiors seem to be oblivious of problems and unwilling to face them. To face them would require that they make changes, either to themselves or to things that are a comfortable “status quo.” Whether said quo is good, healthy, etc etc etc they are seeking the answer that “everything is fine, we’re making progress.” A passive attitude, perhaps brought on by the fact that they themselves are overwhelmed or other issues, inactively slows or kills hope for progress and change.

May I not view people as disposable.

In the workplace, I have been privy to a disturbing trend of burning through people as though they were sticks of wood cast upon a fire of profit and the bottom line. Along with overloading the competent ones, there is an astonishing lack of regard for the people doing the work. Promotions are handed out with strong evidence of favoritism, people are cut simply because a new manager is brought in and that person is threatened, managers are hired and put in place without management experience or understanding of the job. A revolving door of employees emerges and money that might have been spent encouraging, developing and rewarding valuable people is lost in training and retraining and training more because so many people have jumped ship. In at least three companies I’ve witnessed firsthand there seems to be a two year wave–a few people are there for the long haul (7-10 years) and the rest are two year or less transients.

Before I close out, I’m not just speaking from personal experience over my own work history. I’m not even speaking only from experiences of people in my own generation. I just speak from my awareness of people who work very hard at what they do, who put pride, time and effort into their professional selves, and who are often abused and taken for granted. It makes me want to crawl into a hole and knit or read all day.

[Hedgehog climbs off soap box, brushes down the prickles, and heads for the teapot]