The FLAW of MR. PERFECT
You gotta love the employable, the dependable! He is hard working, decisive, aggressive, hardy, robust, well-meaning, timely, rehearsed, informed and sincere. For without the flaw of the competent, the ploy of the INcompetent would never take root. I embrace this type because he takes his job to heart. Because it is part of his identity, his work ethic REQUIRES integrity and conforms to his very philosophy of life. He does not come to work solely for a paycheck. What he expects and NEEDS from work is a sense of completion and challenge, the rewards of achievement, improvement, order, efficiency, growth and in short....SATISFACTION!
The reality smacks him square in the face. His vision is a mirage! Lo and behold, Mr. Perfect looks around his cubicle wall and finds that he is surrounded by IMBUCILS!! Drooling, glassy-eyed zombies who can't function without being told what buttons to push and WON'T function if "that's not my job". The competent depends on his co-workers and other departments to get HIS assignments done, but he finds that the summaries, memos, messages, purchases, authorizations, and reconciliations he depends on are one or more of the following:
Mr. Perfect scratches his head... He can neither perform with integrity (knowing that his sources are faulty) or reach his perfectionistic goals. He must COMPENSATE, CONTROL, RE-CALCULATE!
The best case scenario is that they are all morons. But more likely, and Mr. Perfect fails to see this, most of his co-workers are clever, ruthless, shameless slackers who have reduced their jobs to a queer science, practically a mirrored perversion of his own ambition. Who says the slacker doesn't have important needs and goals too?
Completion = getting off work
Challenge = getting away with doing nothing for the same pay
Efficency = manipulating others into doing their work
Improvement= getting paid to do less
We all do what we need to to survive. What Mr. Perfect does to stay among the competent, correct, and productive, IN SPITE of his drooling, bumbling counterparts, completes the cycle. Office dynamics ensure that the INcompetent will always find the competent, and the competent will always control, compensate, and tie up loose ends where necessary.
Mr. Perfect possesses a variety of traits that encourage erroneous, half-ass behavior in his co-worker a cubicle over. The competent's neurotic eye for perfection and his need to control give the slacker every excuse or reason he could need to become useless. A slacker can spot a know-it-all a mile away, summon the "great brain" for help in understanding his job or DOING his job and obtain the lifetime "help" of his competent pal, who eventually is all too eager to control and take over, because it is easier to do-it-yourself than to allow further incompetence. The slacker knows that once Mr. Perfect is used to a job done well (perfect) that he will have a hard time releasing the task back to the boob that gets paid to do it. The slacker has a brilliant sixth sense for what drives his overly-motivated office pal. He pushes buttons until he brings out the true control freak behind that carpeted cubicle wall. Mr. Perfect is duped, for all his good intentions.
I think that the executive of any company is struggling with boredom. I imagine that he hires a string of puppets and button pushers to harass and frustrate his one or two "perfect people". He's getting his money's worth! And besides, any guy with an office door, instead of a carpeted divider gets tired of the smarties who...
have an answer for everything
never lose their pens or sticky-note pads
can get their job and other's jobs done w/o working overtime
have innovative, time or money saving ideas
know what they are doing
can figure out which buttons to push when standards fluctuate
Mr. Perfect makes him look bad, and besides, he might be competition if appropriately empowered. It must be entertaining to toy with this man's patience and ego. Instead of just ASKING him to do the work of five other positions, why not just stick pins in his sanity by STAFFING those positions with people who are not CAPABLE or not WILLING to take responsibility for their own jobs, and watch the shining hero come to the rescue! Then watch him go home overwhelmed and return to work tired. He deserves it for being so vigilant. Who asked him??!!
Let me begin this tirade with a quick mea culpa. I KNOW I'm using he, his, him in every
example. I'm doing so for the sake of brevity and don't wish to be labeled, in these vexing
Politically Correct times, as a male chauvinist. Even if I am...
There's always been, and always shall be, a very wide gap between the competent and incompetent. There's also a sort of quasi-workable dynamics between the two that is sometimes pretty inexplicable. This is obviously most evident in the workplace where these two forces collide in the rat race forum.
Okay... Let me get this straight. (Shuffling madly through the "happy workplace" manual created in the less jaded '50s.) The GOOD, HARD worker is supposed to get ahead, rise through the ranks and receive his just reward here on earth. The LAZY, SLOPPY worker is forever doomed to walk the unemployment line with a copy of the classified section slowly bleeding ink on his trembling fingers. In these enlightened times, with our office automation, paperless office, voice mail, email, etc.. etc.. etc... You can toss aside the manual and take a glimpse of reality.
Cynicism has become the order of the day in most offices. Even the competent worker has seen the handwriting on the wall as shining examples of the "Peter Principle" seem to be everywhere. He knows that people have historically been promoted just beyond the reach of their competency. What has he to strive for? Does he wish to join their ranks? Being competent, and wishing to be rewarded for it, a catch 22 comes into play that he's bright enough to see coming a mile away. Does that stop him? Au contraire!
Ahhh.... But he's still competent to the point of being anal. What can we read into this? It's in his nature. The boy simply can't help it. Now... Couple this with the fact that there are many incomptent slackers in the mix as well. Gets interesting, doesn't it? Factor in that being a slacker doesn't necessarily make you stupid. You wind up with a number of slackers that know about the Peter Principle, don't want to be involved in that upward spiral to hell and are smart enough to perplex their already overloaded managers.
It becomes a game where the incompetent call most of the shots, since they don't really care about the outcome as much as their anal opponents. When teamed with the competent, he'll do as little as possible and make mistakes whenever the urge strikes, in the simple, and accurate, belief that his anal brethren will pick up the slack. When the product of this "teamwork" hits the fan, he'll simply defy Mr. Anal to so much as mention that most of the work was his. Does the manager know? Does the manager care?
Not being, by definition, a total idiot, what does the competent worker feel? He simply talks about these incompetent dweebs behind their backs and laughs at their seeming stupidity. He's firm in his belief that he can handle any crisis, weather any storm and get the job done. That's the bottom line. His belief in himself and his abilities is everything. Attempting to convert him to the other side would be akin to asking him to blink and change the color of his eyes. The fact that the incompetent is feeding him ammunition for his own ego somehow escapes him. By constantly having to bail out these poor, incompetent fools he's always knee deep in situations that make him feel good about himself.
What's in it for the slacker? His ego exists in a twisted, mysterious universe. What can I get away with today? Can I get this overblown dope in the next padded cubicle to write this report? Can I pick his brains and drive him crazy enough that he'll soon see it'll be easier if he just does it himself? Piece O' cake. No problemo. He's such a twit he'll fall for anything. By constantly throwing the ball to the competent hero and being sure to drop it if it comes back his way, he's in the process of feeding his own warped feelings of adequacy. To attempt to convert him would make him ponder in a very serious manner for a few seconds and come back with... "What's the point?"
The workplace machine spins on the bearings of this symbiotic, though quite twisted, relationship. Amidst many hard feelings, grindings of teeth and rending of clothes, the beat goeth on. If one were to re-write the "Happy Workplace" manual for the nineties... it'd wither on the shelves. We're all much too jaded at this point in the technical revolution to believe such a thing can even exist. How much information can we all retain when it's constantly slammed into us via email and voice mail and the WEB? We've come to a crossroads where even the competent feel inadequate. You have to RUN to keep up. If you stop to take a breath, the technology will surely envelope you and drag you down into the void. The incompetent serenely file their nails and yawn at this juncture. The competent pop a few Maalox, an occasional Prozac and carry on...
Everything expressed in The Rant & Rave is most definitely the opinions of the two authors. Anyone taking exception to any edition of The Rant & Rave is cordially invited to sprout wings and utilize round rolling pastry as their next sexual conquest.