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Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:33 PM

Which type of workplace would you prefer to work in?

Not sure if we've ever discussed this one here, but it's something that should be both fresh in our minds and a part of any progressive political project.

The poll questions will deal solely with how the workplace is run...add any other thoughts in the thread
27 votes, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
The conventional hierarchal workplace(with supervisors and those who are supervised).
6 (22%)
An elected manager chosen by the employees from their ranks for a fixed term.
2 (7%)
cooperative management, with the workers sharing the decision-making among each other.
15 (56%)
complete subjugation to the coming robot overlords
1 (4%)
other
3 (11%)
no opinion
0 (0%)
meh
0 (0%)
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Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll

39 replies, 2631 views

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Arrow 39 replies Author Time Post
Reply Which type of workplace would you prefer to work in? (Original post)
Ken Burch Jan 2013 OP
Kalidurga Jan 2013 #1
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #13
Walk away Jan 2013 #2
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #18
Walk away Jan 2013 #38
NRaleighLiberal Jan 2013 #3
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #16
Speck Tater Jan 2013 #4
librabear Jan 2013 #5
Art_from_Ark Jan 2013 #6
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #17
Odin2005 Jan 2013 #23
Mopar151 Jan 2013 #7
rucky Jan 2013 #8
Posteritatis Jan 2013 #19
1-Old-Man Jan 2013 #9
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #12
Luminous Animal Jan 2013 #10
Ron Green Jan 2013 #35
moondust Jan 2013 #11
FarCenter Jan 2013 #14
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #15
MrSlayer Jan 2013 #20
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #21
Odin2005 Jan 2013 #22
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #24
Tierra_y_Libertad Jan 2013 #25
Harry_Scrote Jan 2013 #26
2on2u Jan 2013 #27
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #28
2on2u Jan 2013 #29
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #30
2on2u Jan 2013 #31
Ken Burch Jan 2013 #32
Nikia Jan 2013 #33
Luminous Animal Jan 2013 #36
FreeJoe Jan 2013 #34
Luminous Animal Jan 2013 #37
FreeJoe Jan 2013 #39

Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:35 PM

1. I would rather be my own boss.

Things usually work out a lot better that way for everyone concerned.

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Response to Kalidurga (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:40 PM

13. That is a nice idea, and I've been thinking about why I didn't include it in the options.

My conclusion is that, without processing it consciously, I'd come to the conclusion that, while being one's own boss is a natural dream, it's not really a realistic dream for the vast majority of us.

Also, even when you ARE your own boss, you still aren't working totally on your own terms...if you offer a good, you have to interact with suppliers, with distributors, and with sources of credit and capital, each of which are going to make stress-inducing demands or make choice-reducing decisions that will replicate the feelings of powerlessness you'd have in a traditional workplace.

My best wishes to those who can manage it, however.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:39 PM

2. I work for myself. Mostly in my home and with animals who think...

I am the greatest thing since sliced bread. Therefore, I prefer to work where I control the environment and the feedback is consistently positive.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:49 PM

18. And you're lucky to be able to do that. Congratulations.

Do you happen to know, off-hand, what the success rate for single-person start-ups is?

Also, how does a person manage to keep their business at the precise level of profit and workload in which the firm is a going concern WITHOUT reaching the point at which the firm would need to add staff or expand the work area? Not trying to be harsh in asking that, but it strikes me that you have to strike a fairly exact balance to make that work. What are the boundaries you try to stay within to achieve such a balance?

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #18)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 11:28 AM

38. It's not easy. I have been offered many opportunities to grow my business in the past...

eighteen years. I could easily hire and train people to work for me or take in partners who compliment my abilities or mirror them. I could have said yes to the several offers of investment capital and even create a brand with services and products. At the very least I could create a network of independent operators who pay a % of their profit to me for working under my name. I have (up until now) resisted.

In the beginning I just turned lots of business away. It was getting to the point where saying "no" and feeling bad about it was a full time job. I raised my rates (for everyone except those who needed a break) and even tried a partner and an employee or two. But adding people just created "bad stress" while working overtime with clients seemed like "good stress". Finally I hit on the answer for me. I started to network with other people doing some of the services I offer. We don't charge each other money and we refer services to each other and even encourage others to start up themselves and join us.

I am still very busy but I make enough money to pay a gardener to care for my property, a handyman to keep my house up and a cleaning service to keep my place cleaner than I ever did. Besides, I'm doing what I love!

As I get older my business skews more toward training, socialization and basic behavior modification. Less physical work and more profitable. I hope to always surround myself with dogs and enjoy watching them interact. If I play my cards right I'll never have to retire and I'll always be glad about it.

Another hard day working like a Dog!&feature=share&list=PL89083439252202CC

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:40 PM

3. I choose cooperative, but....

after 25 years in Pharma where it was very hierarchical, then some consulting (not much less), I much prefer my present situation - self employed, garden writer, plant seller....far less money, far more joy!

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:43 PM

16. Glad to hear it.

How long did it take to start breaking even with that?

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:41 PM

4. Other: my happiest time was...

 

the years I spent running my own small, one-man neighborhood used bookstore.
I made more money working as an engineer, both before and after the bookstore, but I was never happier.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:44 PM

5. The last thing we need

 

Is a bunch of people who think they are my boss. I want one person who can articulate their needs so that I can better meet them. Anything else is a clusterfuck.

Note: I no longer have a boss. My customers replaced that person.

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Response to librabear (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:49 PM

6. That sounds like what Otis Redding was singing about so many years ago

"I can't do what ten people tell me to do..."

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Response to librabear (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:46 PM

17. 1)You're assuming a SINGLE boss can always articulate her or his needs.

(OR that that single boss will have some particularly godlike knowledge of how to solve personnel, production or distribution problems. I'd advise you to read DILBERT more frequently).

2)Have you actually worked anywhere in which democratic management was used?

3)Are you really sure that other employees would have nothing helpful contribute to whatever work it is you do? Or that you would have nothing helpful to offer to them? That seems like a fairly negative view of the human race you've taken.

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Response to librabear (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:28 PM

23. That's exactly why I prefer the elected manager option.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:08 PM

7. It would be a blend of these for me

Somebody has to make decisions which may be temporarily unpopular. And when workers compete for resources whthout someone to be the final arbiter, anger, waste and worse inevitably result.
On the other hand, the folks lower on the food chain know far more about what it takes to do their jobs than a remote CFO, or an HR drone who lacks the skills to do the most basic jobs in the place. ( I literally had to explain to one I worked with that the stuff we made was complicated and expensive - 12 years later she is still using my phrase in help-wanted ads) ("Complex, high value-added")

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:14 PM

8. Cooperative management sounds good on paper

but in my experience, the strongest personalities tend to dominate and one person can make many co-workers miserable with little recourse. Everybody needs to be working for the common good for it to work, and I have yet to be in a workplace where that's the case.

I voted for elected manager w/ fixed term.

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Response to rucky (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:08 PM

19. I'm currently working in a place like that and it's working out quite well

They're really careful in the hiring process of making sure people are a good fit to the environment (which is, ah, a bit odd at times). There's a definite everyone-working-for-the-common-good sort of thing, CEO-through-the-custodial-staff types of all-hands meetings where everyone's at least heard, the works. They go to some lengths to make sure everyone's alright with the general setup, and it's simultaneously the most eccentric, most interesting, and most pleasant workplace I've ever been in.

Of course, everyone gets how unusual that sort of setup can be. People pretty much constantly count their blessings.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:26 PM

9. The conventional hierarchal workplace

I say that because back when I was still working (now retired) I rarely worked at any place where even half of the people there were much interested in the work product, just the check. Half of the clowns I worked with over the years couldn't be trusted to make a decision about rather to get drunk before they drove home that night, I sure as hell wouldn't want them cooperatively turning the place I worked into a freek-show. That said I was fortunate over the years to have very good supervisors and I'd like to think I became a pretty good one myself, at least toward the end. Many people fared better than I did climbing the ladder of success but in most every case it was those who were most engaged with the workplace, more than I was and much more than most of the people I worked with. And that is my reason for preferring the conventional management style.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:36 PM

12. Had it not occurred to you that, possibly, the reason so many of your co-workers weren't interested

in "the work product" was that they had no say in the that product was created or produced? Is it reasonable for people to care about "the work product" when it doesn't reflect THEM in any way?

You've illustrated one of the main problems with the conventional workplace...it naturally alienates the workers, thus naturally causing apathy about the work itself.

Shouldn't we be changing the workplace so that no one who works is totally powerless and disregarded within it?

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:57 PM

10. Mondragon Co-op operating for near 60 years, employing 84,000 people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation#Wage_regulation

History
The MONDRAGON Corporation is a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain. It was founded in the town of Mondragón in 1956 by graduates of a local technical college. Their first product was paraffin heaters. Currently it is the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover and the leading business group in the Basque Country. At the end of 2011 it was providing employment for 83,869 people working in 256 companies in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail and Knowledge.

....
Business culture
This entire framework of business culture has been structured on the basis of a common culture derived from the 10 Basic Co-operative Principles, in which MONDRAGON is deeply rooted: Open Admission, Democratic Organisation, the Sovereignty of Labour, Instrumental and Subordinate Nature of Capital, Participatory Management, Payment Solidarity, Inter-cooperation, Social Transformation, Universality and Education.

....

Wage regulation
At Mondragon, there are agreed-upon wage ratios between the worker-owners who do executive work and those who work in the field or factory and earn a minimum wage. These ratios range from 3:1 to 9:1 in different cooperatives and average 5:1. That is, the general manager of an average Mondragon cooperative earns 5 times as much as the theoretical minimum wage paid in his/her cooperative. This ratio is in reality smaller because there are few Mondragon worker-owners that earn minimum wages, their jobs being somewhat specialized and classified at higher wage levels.


Some of my favorite products that I buy are produced by co-ops. Some of my favorite places I shop are co-ops.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:24 PM

35. THIS! And as elaborated upon by Richard Wolff in

"Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism."

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 09:49 PM

11. Ahh, participative management.

I remember some (apparently idle) talk about it ~25 years ago but almost nothing since. I doubt if many top-down corporate megalomaniacs who are grotesquely overcompensated would ever give up much of their dictatorial power or booty "for the greater good" of anything.

Germany, on the other hand, has a better idea: Codetermination in Germany

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:40 PM

14. What? No anarcho syndicalist commune?

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:41 PM

15. "Dennis, there's some lovely filth over here". n/t.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:10 PM

20. At this point I'd just be happy to go back to work.

 

As long as I'm not being whipped I don't care what the structure is.

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Response to MrSlayer (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:12 PM

21. That is understandable, and I think we all hope you can get back to work.

It's horribly sad that this system has made so many reduce their expectations of life to "not being whipped".

It should be part of the project of ANY movement for social transformation that people be given the right to believe they deserve far more than that...and that work will take years.

May you see better times, my friend. May we all.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:25 PM

22. The elected manager.

I'm the personality who needs clear lines of authority in order to be productive, so cooperative management would drive me crazy. If "cooperative management" is anything like dividing up a group project in high school or college then I want nothing to do with it, too much arguing over who does what and not enough actually doing the work.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:40 PM

24. Well, collective management usually involves its own equivalent of parliamentary procedure

I don't think argument for argument's sake is allowed in such a set-up.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:06 PM

25. Work is highly overrated as a pastime.

The happiest day of my life was when I retired.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:09 PM

26. None other than...

In Ricky Gervais' The Office.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:24 PM

27. I like working in an environment in which someone has commandeered the radio, plays the

 

top forty so I can hear the same 40 songs three or four times a day for months and months on end, in that way when I have a mental breakdown I will have something concrete to blame it on.

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Response to 2on2u (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:31 PM

28. What about an environment where a co-worker in a badly-wrinkled shirt

is allowed to play the radio "from 9 to 11 each morning, at a reasonable level", and keeps getting his cherry-red Swingline stolen?

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:36 PM

29. It's amazing how a nondescript basement worker can levy revenge on such uppity

 

managerial types. I applaud his spirit but I don't agree with his actions.

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Response to 2on2u (Reply #29)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:48 PM

30. Not a "waste the boss" type. myself...what you CAN say, though, is that Milton was a real example

of the concepts of "reaping what you sow" and "chickens coming home to roost".

You saw a person chipped away at, day after day, left with no dignity, with his own cubicle commandeered for storage, left literally with NO SPACE FOR HIMSELF at all...left with nothing...and then, finally, lashing back in what must have seemed to him to be the only way he could. Lundgren MADE Milton kill him and destroy the office-you could call it "suicide by supervision".

I wonder if "Office Space" ever gets shown in executive training programs as an example of how NOT to treat underlings, if for no other reason than to help keep the executives alive. On a bad day, any of us could, possibly, "pull a Milton"...you just have to be pushed a little too far.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #30)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:51 PM

31. And they certainly do push, fortunately I refuse to reach my breaking point.... I just pack it

 

up and move on.

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Response to 2on2u (Reply #31)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:57 PM

32. That's why you and I haven't BECOME Milton...yet.

But the potential for Miltonality is in us all.

This illustrates why, in the end, the choice for us may well be, resistance OR death.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:40 PM

33. The problem with cooperative management and management by concensus is that loud pushy people

dominate. While some boss types are loud and pushy, they are sometimes chosen by better criteria.
Of course, I just became the lower level boss this week and didn't realize that my people were so loud and pushy until now. They stood in a circle with me and kept yelling excitingly over each other and me about their great ideas now that the mean, stuborn, and unreasonable boss was replaced with the pleasant, open minded, and forward thinking boss. They all agreed that I was the best person to be promoted and they didn't really want to be in charge anyway but how about we do this and this and won't it be great when we do my great idea...
Of course, I'll take their ideas into consideration, but the loudest ideas won't necessarily win with me.

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Response to Nikia (Reply #33)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:51 PM

36. Actually, not so. A well-run co-op will have a strong framework for participation.

Meetings will have an agenda and a facilitator whose task would be to keep maintain the agenda and the rules. If new ideas do crop up, they will be put on the agenda for the next meeting. I have, in the past, been a member of a consensus organization that had meetings of 300-400 people every week. We employed a modified version of Roberts Rules Of Order which the membership respected. Being loud, pushy, and talking over other people was against the rules. We were able to advance several items on the agenda every week which was pretty remarkable for such a large group.

Co-ops are not for everyone. Type A people usually don't bother applying and when they do, are ordinarily screened out. If they do squeak by and end up getting hired, they don't last long due to the fact that participating in the democratic process really is not in their nature.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:19 PM

34. I believe in evolution

I don't believe that our current organizational structures are perfect, but I think that they have evolved over time to be efficient. Show me something that is working better for large institutions and I'll be interested. So will the business schools, consultants, and directors that organize our companies.

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Response to FreeJoe (Reply #34)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:55 PM

37. See post #10.

Also, there are 30,000 co-op in the U.S. Many are agricultural - small farmers in a co-operative to provide a single product and most are small businesses.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #37)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 08:39 AM

39. Yes, but...

It sounds like there are some examples in small co-ops or some company off in a Spain, but they are by far the exception and I don't see a major push by employers or employees to emulate them. I'll stick with what is known to work and continue to evolve it.

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