silveradept: The logo for the Dragon Illuminati from Ozy and Millie, modified to add a second horn on the dragon. (Dragon Bomb)
[personal profile] silveradept
Hey. I have a thing that I have to talk about. There's something that's going to happen to us all, at least once in our careers. If we are lucky, it will only happen once. (Most of us are not lucky.) Because of the nature of our institutions, and their general inability to move particularly quickly, even if they claim to be able to do so, there's going to be a time in our careers where we're going to fight our organization with everything that we've got. Because the thing the organization is doing is terrible, is hurtful, is unprofitable, and we want to see the organization do better, especially by their customers / users / patrons / staff.

That particular fight, where we go at it full-bore...we're going to lose it, a loit of the time. Organizations don't wan to change. People in management in the organization are often unwilling to change, even if you can demonstrate that it's going to be a good idea, or that the thing that's being done and that needs to change is harmful.

At Open Source Bridge, I learned about the framework of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, which corresponds somewhat nicely to the options that we have to deal with when it comes to what happens after we lose the fight with the organization.

You can give up after losing this fight. Permanently doing so is a form of Loyalty, where we adjust our behavior to the new norm and stop agitating for the change that we had gone after. Sometimes that's what happens when the fight is long, drawn-out, or to us, we see that there's no real way that change can be achieved, or that we don't have enough spoons left, or career left, to keep fighting. I think that on something that you personally care about that much to fight your organization to the hilt over, this will be less of acceptance of the new situation and something more like one of the other ways that someone uses Exit. Perhaps we take some time off to let things cool, or to recover, or to get our strength back, because being on all the time is a very easy way to burn out completely. Taking some time, maybe six months, maybe a year, maybe until that manager retires, is a way to get read for the next attempt. I did that myself. actually. When confronted with a manager that didn't understand what I was interested in, and how I was trying to be an excellent librarian, and that didn't really support what I was doing, at the point where I ended up on disciplinary probation, proving that the upper management didn't understand (or care enough) either, I checked out. I did my very best not to do anything new, not to volunteer for anything, not to produce anything more than what had already been clearly defined as acceptable behavior and duties. Because that manager was retiring, and I needed to outlast her. And when she retired, and I out out a feeler about whether it was safe to return to my usual self, I got immediate feedback that it still wasn't safe. So I stayed checked out until the next supervisor came along, and it seemed safe to come back.

During that time, a lot of people urged me to consider the other, more formally Exit strategy. Exit, generally, is "these people have their heads so far up their asses that there's no way this is going to change / my talents are wasted on this organization, so I'm getting out of here." Sometimes it's not worth it to fight. You're the token trying to root out an institutional prejudice that runs all the way up the command chain. The organization's culture is toxic to the point where they're essentially going to force you out anyway. That manager is so terrible that there's no way you can continue to work under them. Your allegations have been dismissed and you blamed for being a troublemaker rather than investigated and taken seriously. Youur organization believes very firmly that the past is the only thing to look to about how to provide services or methods, and there will be no talk of trying to bring it into the current era. There's persistent misgendering.

Of course, each of these reasons are also potentially good reasons to engage with Voice, instead. Voice is "these people have their heads so far up their asses that there's no way they're going to change...but I'm going to drag their head out into the light of day and make them change anyway. Preferably with allies, I might suggest. Voice is when you make noise, when you make yourself a pain in the ass (in a good way), you protest, you tell why you are doing things, you gather allies. And sometimes, what that means is that you go right back to the thing that you lost on and try again. (It may have the same result, unless something has changed in your situation that makes the organization more willing to accept changes. Or a manager with actual power reads something and decides that your position is the right one to take, and they start putting their weight behind making those change happens.) Voice is exhausting, which is why it's good to have others helping you maintain the sound of the voice. Voice sometimes also means going to trainings and learning more to make yourself better, even if your organization isn't following suit, and then distributing that information informally, in conversations, and in the space around you, to make your own place better, and to possibly have someone else take what they learned from you and spread it in their own space. Voice always has consequences, and regrettably, a lot of hem are going to be negative in one way or another, because asking for change tends to produce resistance, and a lot of the people who are going to resist you have more organizational power, either officially or unofficially, than you do.

I want to mention that all of these options are valid ones, and that which one you choose will depend on your situation. It's okay to check out. It's okay to decide that you're done fighting this fight here and you're going to go somewhere else. It's okay to stand your ground and dig your heels in and refuse to back down until you get what you are going for, or you have to back down for other reasons. It's okay to decide to change up your tactics and decide that you're going to become a subversive influence in your own organization. It's okay to make the decision that you're going to model the behavior and strive for the level of knowledge and awareness that you expect from your organization and others and to respond with facts and reasons why you're doing it that way when someone asks. It's okay to try and use what power you have to bring about a desired result or to shield anyone in your umbrella from terrible decisions from above.

Because organizations still hate to change, even if they have really good reasons to do so. And because we're going to lose our fights until one day, some time in the future (hopefully a near future), we're going to win.

Well ...

Date: 2018-09-29 09:54 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I leave. If other people's goals are opposed to mine, we shouldn't be together. I want to work with people who share my goals and listen to me when I tell them something is dangerous or destructive.

My low bullshit tolerance has cost me more than one job, but well, this is who I am.

Ironically, it was after I got into crowfunding that I realized writing about a healthier society has had far more impact than any other activism I've done. Fine. I can work with that.

Re: Well ...

Date: 2018-09-29 11:38 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>For my profession, at least, if you choose exit, odds are your commute gets longer or you end up moving house. Easier to do before you end up with things anchoring you to a place.<<

I did make some choices before I got involved in things, like deciding not to take up public school teaching as a career. Looking at the even-more-fucked-up mess it is today, that was an excellent choice. But I've bailed out of things after the fact, too.

Yes, it often has a cost. But you have to compare that to the cost of staying. If a job ruins your health, makes you hate yourself, or breaks pieces off your personality then it's not safe to stay. You're not gaining from it. I look around at the plummeting mental and physical health of America and I see that toxic workplaces are a key contributor. It's not just the workers who pay the price either. The rest of us do when someone who ought to fix a problem doesn't because they care more about a survival-needs job than about, say, not giving 20,000 people food poisoning.

Re: Well ...

Date: 2018-09-30 06:12 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
That's not an accident, it's quite deliberate. In order to trap people in shitty jobs, it must be perceived that the abuse is less bad than being left to starve and die. This is how society pressures women into enduring sexual assault at work, or minimum-wage workers from enduring vicious poverty. If there were a safety net, people would leave when abused, which would require employers to treat them better, which would leave less profit and opportunity to screw around.

Date: 2018-09-29 04:42 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: The Space Needle by night. Slightly dubious photography. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
It's harder with a society.

Date: 2018-09-30 10:43 pm (UTC)
sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
From: [personal profile] sonia
This was helpful to read, thank you! I have done my share of tilting at organizations, and losing, and feeling like I should be better at getting along.

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silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
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