Tuesday, April 09, 2013
When Corporate Idealism Meets Corporate Reality
I admit that I have a tendency to be naive and idealistic at times. I tend to think people are basically good; I'm genuinely surprised when people don't follow rules; and am shocked by the terrible things human beings do to one another. I totally relate to the character, Don Quixote in the novel of the same name.
As I've mentioned, I've recently procured a new job as an usher at a theater in town. It's not just an usher job; there is some performing involved as we help get people in the mood for the show as well as telling them where their seats are, and that was one thing that appealed to me about it when I applied. Here are things I like about my new job:
* The hours. They're ideal; exactly when I want to work. I'm a night owl, and I start at 5:00 pm and end at 11:30 pm. Perfect! And the fact that I only work six and a half hours doesn't bother me at all even if it means I earn less.
*It's relatively easy. Honestly, I'm just helping people find their seats while entertaining them and occasionally telling them to stop taking pictures. It's not brain surgery.
*I get a free meal. The company I work for provides a free hot meal as part of working there. It's also healthy, so that's a great perk.
*It's keeping me in shape. I run around a lot and maneuver a lot of stairs. It's helping me feel more healthy.
*I get to act. Even though I'm not on stage, I still get to play a character in this position as well as do some improvisation, and so that has been good for my creativity.
*It has the potential to turn into a full-time position. Even though it's an on-call job, it could become a full-time, permanent position, and that appeals to me as well as the stability that comes with it.
*I like my boss. He's pretty laid back and easy to work with.
*The hours are flexible. Flexibility is good should other acting opportunities come up.
*Benefits. After I work there for ninety days, there are all sorts of benefits such a health insurance, paid time off, free shows, etc. I like that.
*The show is great. The show which I'm an usher for is top notch. Great music, great effects, great story, talented performers. It's pretty incredible, and it's nice to be a part of it even in a small way.
*Supportive staff. For the most part, my co-workers are supportive and helpful, and I have appreciated that.
*Two long breaks. We get two 35 minute breaks during our shift plus 45 minutes prep time before our ushering duties start. So really, we're essentially actually working only 4 and a half hours at a job that's not that difficult to begin with.
*The pay is good. I get paid $16.86 an hour, which is less than what I earned in my last acting job, but still pretty good. While I'm in full-time training, I'm earning pretty decent money. Once I go to official on-call status, it may be more of a struggle until the summertime, which will be busier.
*The job is fun. I actually do enjoy what I'm doing. Will I feel the same in a year? Who knows? But right now I'm liking it.
*I like meeting different people. Many people from all over the world see our show, and it's fun to meet them and know that we're bringing them some joy.
Things I don't like about my new job:
*The traffic. In a commute that would take about 20 minutes in a city with a less traffic, it takes me about 45-55 minutes, and the people here drive so terribly. I really dislike it.
*Constant standing. Especially because part of my uniform includes a pair of uncomfortable boots, the continual standing is hard on my knees and feet. I tried using cushioned insoles, but they didn't help. I just don't enjoy standing for prolonged periods of time, but that's what my job requires.
*Difficult guests. Thus far they've been rare, but we do get some drunk people and occasionally disgruntled guests, and I don't enjoy dealing with them.
*Radio communication. As part of our job, we ushers communicate with one another by using closed circuit radio, and I have a very difficult time understanding everything. Unfortunately, it is pretty important to understand what my fellow ushers are saying, so this is a great annoyance to me, especially in areas of the job which are highly dependent upon radio communication.
*Lack of uniformity. Because my boss is so laid back, I feel like there isn't a very strict, uniform system in place for how things are supposed to be done, so many ushers kind of do their own thing, and this can be a bit frustrating.
And this brings me to the title of my post. As I was going through orientation for my job, we were of course were trained on how to be the ideal employee. And in my naivete, I figured that's actually how it would be; that everyone would be happy and supportive and do their best. And that's what I intended to do myself.
But then you meet some of the jaded and discouraged; you hear the backbiting and see employees failing to support one another; you see employees frustrated by their boss' management style; you see people who have been at the job for too long or who just think of it as a humdrum job; and you realize the ideal doesn't always exist.
But I believe it can. I believe your job is all about your attitude. I went to McDonald's yesterday and the guy at the drive-in window was peppy, happy, and gave great customer service. The lady at K-Mart today was enthusiastic and friendly. I've seen some members of the housekeeping staff at a local hotel sharing their great attitudes. Likewise, I've seen employees fighting, grumbling, gossiping, and debasing one another.
I learned so many great things in my orientation and continue to learn great things in my training. I intend to give my all to the guests I serve, the co-workers with whom I work; and the boss who directs me. I intend to keep a good attitude and do the best job I can. I don't want this to just be a job; I want to be the best employee I can be. That's how I've always tried to be in my jobs. It's not always easy, especially when you're in a job that feels unfulfilling. I'm glad I like my job. Of course, it's still new and fresh. Will I always feel that way? I don't know. But I just want to be the best employee I can be.
Most of all, I'm just grateful to have a job at all.