Politics…

gumybears and unicornsThis word politics conjures up a variety of emotions and reactions from us all mostly guided from past and present experience and perceptions with persons, rules or laws you have interacted with. On the whole, it will boil down to where you are geographically on planet earth and your exposure to the workings of us humans.

For instance you give an opinion over something in governance in some countries in Africa – and immediately you are perceived by most to be an aspiring politician! At worst you are seen as a threat to the sitting president, MP or local council official, who in turn will try and find a way of eliminating you – even say you are a terrorist for daring to mess with the order of play! This word politics is not easy my friend.

The word politics in itself is quite varied and can have a variety of meanings to differing persons.  Some, including myself, might define politics to simply being a combination of many little lies of coercion, with the aim of manipulating to attain a given aim or goal

However, I will go with this definition if only to keep those waiting in the wings to sign me off to the loony bin: Politics, in the broadest sense, is the activity through which people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live. Mansoor Maitah

However. As with everything in life, nothing is as ever black or white. Grey areas exist and you are probably wondering what politics has got to do with my ramblings today.  Those concerned I’m about to rant on about the main political parties here in the UK, relax!! Far from it. Those guys have their own platforms and media to put anyone attempting such a fit to shame.

You see the other day I was sharing a coffee with a colleague. She had been threatening to leave her present employ for quite some months now as she felt unsupported by those managing her. This time around she was voicing the same sentiments. She had requested to be paid in money her annual leave that she didn’t want to take but been denied this by her line manager. (In effect she was seeking to be paid double for the period she worked during what should have been her annual leave). In return she’d escalated this up to the next Manager who it soon became clear wasn’t going to back down from the decision made by the first manager.  Now my colleague’s annoyance over being denied her request was compounded by two major issues she voiced that struck a chord in me.

  1. She thought the line manager was way younger than her and as such felt he was ill-placed to be telling her she had to use up her annual leave or lose it.
  2. The previous line manager had allowed my colleague this request the past year – so she felt she had a right to it.

The first issue resonated with me because once upon a time in my mid 20’s, I’d risen up the ranks of managing persons who were older than me. My age and the speed my promotion had come at seemed to irk plenty of my older colleagues and they often showed their “discomfort” over this in how they opted to refuse to carry out tasks asked of them – even when I gave them full professional respect when engaging them to do so. It wasn’t long before I started seeing the camaraderie which once was when I had just started with them disappear and in place, often undisguised dislike.  For some it was my position, others it was my race, but mostly it was my age that seemed to attract so much conflict.

The second issue made me recall the sort of working relationships employees and employers weave – a sort of ‘I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine’ whereby it is not written anywhere but is at the discretion of those directly involved. Now discretionary acts I have often found add human elements when assessing and dealing with fellow beings. However as with gentleman’s agreements, it calls for the ones exercising discretion to be on a similar wave length. If you have a manager with whom your personalities clash or who is unable to exercise professionalism over work matters, getting a discretionary ruling on anything might be stretching it too far.

Over time in various employs ranging from nursing right through to medical secretarial then management, I’d learnt that there was always a form of politics with fellow colleagues which one had to keep in mind that didn’t get written into job descriptions. I also learned to respect positions of all personnel be them under my management or above – they simply were doing roles they were employed to do for the betterment of the whole company or institution. Office politics are usually to do with persons vying to protect their space/job in a given employ and some will go to varying lengths in acts to do that.  The trick is being able to decipher how persons play or get played.

So now when I have young students or managers coming with all the confidence of a young spirit, I simply appreciate that I still have some role in the bigger frame of their dreams. I don’t see them as competitors but merely as young trees to carry forth the baton.  Where needed or asked, I will offer my thoughts/input. I respect their zeal and youth and hope that they in return do same for my seniority of the knowledge archived.

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Not being antisocial, they just have differing priorities

Been meaning to write about this for some time now.  I have literally had to put sleep on hold so that I could do this right now as opposed to putting it off yet again.  In case I make any typos, the excuse is already given.  I’m writing this under the influence of sleep.

I am wondering how many persons out there have had to deal with being referred to as being antisocial, sometimes even resulting in to them losing out on being considered for a promotion or even a post deserving of their skills and abilities in relation to their job. This can only be comparable to situations where persons, usually women, complained about being passed over for jobs or promotions simply because those in charge of consideration of such promotions or allocation, often belong to gentlemen’s clubs such as  golf, where females (unless they are of  service or the entertainment variety) do not partake.

A recent observation brought this practice to mind.  Most work places hold what they term – social gatherings, mostly on Fridays when salaries have been paid.  This entails employees along with senior persons or employers congregating at some chosen venue – usually a drinking hole/pub.  It is meant to be a social gathering encouraging work persons to socialise.  I have absolutely no qualms about such and if I were to bring up my file from younger years, I’d probably rate as one of those pioneers to such gatherings.  Mind you, in my younger working years, any social gathering was welcomed with open arms.

Thing is, some persons priorities to such gatherings with work colleagues can differ.  There are persons to who their work or job defines all that they are about such that everything they breathe and live is interwoven with their job/work.  This is admirable – especially if it gives the person practicing it, joy.  It does not however translate that everyone feels the same. For most persons, they work at a job simply to pay the bills or keep the bailiffs at bay!

On a serious note however, it does cross boundaries of disrespect when persons who define their lives in accordance to their job or work; expect everyone else in their employ or working environment to mirror their passion or zeal.  Writing off fellow colleagues or workers as being anti-social simply because they will not hang out with you at a social event and to later use this as reason for not hiring or promoting them to reflect their skills, I think is just plain petty and stupid.  Their inability to join you in to these social situations may just be down to their personal priorities outside of work requirements.

Just as you don’t have time to take in to account their personal situation, you don’t have a right to dictating how they should spend the time when not contracted to be working with you or for you.  Perhaps if these social events were clearly defined as being work related and paid for accordingly, then clarity from the onset should be done and observed.

Work colleagues or employees have differing domestic and cultural settings.  These factor in how they priorities their time, when out of working hours.  So keep in mind, just because a fellow colleague cannot join in with everyone every other Friday of the month down at the pub, it does not translate that they are antisocial. They simply have differing priorities for their time in relation to yours.