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Getting the job done – at all costs

Bill Storie, CEO of the Olderhood Group

The headline above has two elements. We probably all agree that getting the job done, be that at home or in the office, is a reasonable and valid goal. However, we probably don’t all agree that getting it done at all costs is acceptable in today’s climate.I’m fortunate to have been brought up in a working environment that called for things to get done regardless of the consequences. If we hurt someone’s feelings along the way, the culture was such that it just “came with the territory”. You had to suck it up so to speak. Little regard was given to people’s feelings and emotions.You’re confused because I said I was fortunate. Let me explain.Back in the age of dinosaurs — by which I mean the 60s, 70s and 80s — the objective was amazingly simple. We worked for the company and we had a job to do which we got paid to do. If we didn’t do the job, we most likely wouldn’t get paid at the least, and more likely we would lose the job. The boss (I hate that word by the way) was omnipotent: he was king. As a quick aside, that was another feature of life in the stone age. It was always a he and never a she. If we had to work overtime to get the job done it was expected you would stay late. Getting paid for that extra time was never requested, mainly because your rudeness would be “noted”. You simply did it “for the company”. If you had responsibilities at home with the family (or the dog) they were disregarded because the company came first. Too bad if it was your anniversary and your wife was all dressed up and ready to go out for dinner that evening.Over and above the salary we were gratified to receive two weeks’ vacation each year. And of course, let’s not forget the company’s annual Christmas party. Shouts of acclamation filled the air.Raising an eyebrow, or a finger, or even worse, an objection about company policy or standards was punishable by reprimand. Rocking the boat was not allowed. To be honest rocking the boat was not part of our DNA anyway. We “toed the line”.They call them the good old days. Not because they were necessarily good, but because we had a job — and that, in times of economic stress, was above all the prized possession. We would suffer all forms of disrespect, or even abuse, as we would call it these days. Speaking back was not tolerated. When the boss told you off ,you took it square on.So, there you have it. A peek into the working world back when the job got done at all cost.Still confused regarding why I said I was fortunate?Simple really.Because I, and millions of other workers, who experienced these draconian measures can easily see how wrong it was then, and more importantly, how working in this “new normal” should and must be. If you haven’t seen the bad, far less the ugly, then trying to envision what “the good” should look like can be fuzzy. And more appropriately, trying to make the changes is much more difficult. You don’t know what the target looks like.You can’t fully appreciate the feelings of people if you haven’t felt them yourself.If you haven’t experienced the angst of watching powerlessly as an extremely competent woman is overlooked for promotion just because she’s a woman (and I speak as a man), then you don’t really understand gender bias or gender equality. You think you do understand, you can speak about it, you can empathise, but you can’t feel it. The same observation can of course be stated for many other forms of discrimination.As a society we have much to learn about change. And maybe, just maybe — old dinosaurs like me do have something to contribute to the conversation.• Bill Storie is chief executive of The Olderhood Group Ltd, Bermuda and is a CA (Scotland). He is also producer and host of the Olderhood Radio podcasts, which can be found on The Royal Gazette website. For more information, visit www.olderhoodgroup.com