Dear reader, if you don’t want to read about excessive workload and corporations’ lives, go away.
I’ve been waiting to write about this topic for a long time now. I never really knew from where to start, as this is very sensitive to many of us, but I feel that this matter should be addressed.
I’ve always been, what we could call, an ideal student. I was learning quickly and grades were really good, even excellent. I was never going for competition, being at the top of the class was not a goal, neither a wish. My parents were both very implicated in my scholarship and getting good grades was just a beautiful way to recognize my efforts.
I started realizing in middle school that my trainings and my grades could get me into a well-known school, a great university and this would hopefully lead me to a successful job. I got into a prestigious high school for which I had taken exams to get in and I reached easily university without too much anxiety regarding my diplomas. I ended up being a valedictorian and everything seemed to be an opened door to success in my professional life.
Little did I know at the time that the most important things for a successful career are not taught at school. How to sell yourself on the market is not one of the major courses you can take, neither how to fight for your position nor how to reach your performance indicators while escaping the sabotage from your beloved colleagues who want your place.
After graduating and getting my master degree from a pretty good university in my country and after struggling to find a first job (I will talk about this in another article), I found a position in a big company. I was evolving in a world where our products were sold out, we were increasing our strength on the international market very fast and money was not an issue. I got my first position by replacing a girl who went away for a few months and right after that I was hired to work on important corporate projects.
I finally had the successful position I was dreaming of during my university years and the income was not making me mad at all. I had heard about the stressful day-to-day life that comes with it, the tensed rhythm of big private companies for sure. But I would never had imagined the truthful reality. It took me only 4 to 5 months to be constantly nervous about my key performance indicators that I was supposed to show 2 to 3 times a week. Some specific periods in the year were pushing me to prepare them every morning before 9 a.m. Every small gap was supposed to be addressed as soon as possible. One little decimal could make me run like a crazy person, preparing my speech like it was a final plea.
I was sleeping less and less and the pressure on my shoulders did not let me the possibility to turn my computer off during the evening and the weekends. The pressure was one thing but it was not the worst, neither was the workload. I realized that many of my coworkers were very frustrated with their jobs sometimes and the lack of recognition they had to deal with was pushing them to give a lot of their time and energy to sabotage other people’s work. After a year of working full time in this environment, I had two observations to make: first, the pressure associated with the goals that needed to be achieved as fast as possible was not the main struggle but my coworkers were, and second, my body was already giving me sign that this was not a sustainable situation.
The top notch I was and the strong woman I wanted to be decided to shut down every alarm and fight back to show that no matter what, I would succeed and give my company the efficiency they were expecting from me.
After 3 years, my performance was not be put into question anymore but the raw truth was, I was exhausted. The battle to survive into this jungle was overcoming the battle for a successful life, and every day, when I was going back home, I was feeling disappointed with myself, observing my body being a total mess. I was struggling physically and slightly more and more emotionally.
Dear readers, I never wanted to succeed for competition. I wanted to give the best of myself and my abilities, hopping to be recognized through a great job and some outstanding performances. It never crossed my mind to do it to prove myself I was worth it or better than anyone, I just wanted to contribute in a tremendous manner.
My work experiences showed me than people were not in the same mindset as me and that we were not solidarizing for a collective progress. People were working individually to promote themselves despite the expected performance from the top directors. I spent more times trying to avoid attacks and parrying kicks than really working for my goals. I spent more time dealing with nervosity and anxiety than anything else. I spent way too much energy to figure at were the manipulation would appear instead of building comprehensive and appreciated deliverables.
The young student who wanted to make a change was slowly getting transformed into a perfect wreck who was surviving in-between the wolves.
The thing is, dear readers, during university, I spent my summers working in very diverse organizations, ones that were not even setting goals and some other which aimed to only provide help to needy people and the realization is there: I have observed the biggest performances in the organizations which were not even talking about indicators and efficiency. And the reason is very simple.
Organizations that are not putting people into competition but aim to make them work together peacefully and happily don’t have to do much to create the wish to succeed collectively, whereas, private companies that are obsessed with optimization and performances develop the perfect environment to enhance the worst side of human kind. They ignite the emotions of jealousy, fear, frustration and despair, the greatest feelings that make people start a fire.
I could write pages and pages about how well-being is important to reach a real performance but this is not the point of this article. I could tell you so many stories about crazy plans I have eluded, I could tell you all about the painful and mean comments I received but this would be useless. By this writing I want to share with you the brutal reality of being an executive in some big corporations. I want to tell you about the difference between my LinkedIn profil and my reality. The workload can be so high at some point that you know you’ll never be able to absorb all of it. Sometimes you know that we could hire one or two more people in the team to decrease the tension but you don’t have a choice. People above you tell you what you can do, even if you can’t. Sometimes, you just want to come home and cry.
We tried to optimize human in the same way we optimize machines and equipment but we got the opposite results of what we wanted in the first place. The run for faster, cheaper, more efficient are taking us to a place where people experience burn out and bore out. We are getting to a point of no turning back. Reducing non- value added activities was supposed to lead to a better place, we created a living hell.
I truly believe that we will start to reach real performance when we will completely understand that happy workers, working side by side, knowing the importance of their activities are the key to collective progress. Individual KPI are generally useless.
But, dear readers, tell me, what’s the point of doing this? What is the good of all this for humanity? What is the aim of increasing desperately the production of products we don’t even consume? What the point of sacrificing some living being to make more money?
Dear readers, I don’t know if you can relate to my experience but if you do, please share it too. This is the only way to make a change.
Dear reader, take care.