Stellar startup: Bosses - good and bad

My question is this: Why do people stay at jobs they really, really don't like?

By DAVID SHAMAH
November 18, 2007 10:09
proletans 88 224

proletans 88 224. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Today we're going to delve a bit into the human psyche- some psychological analysis, if you will. Don't worry, though - we won't be handling anything too deep (like I could handle something like that!). My question is this: Why do people stay at jobs they really, really don't like? We all know a couple of people like that - and many folks don't have to look further than their mirrors to find a prime example. High pressure, nasty office politics, the threat of layoffs/closures - there's a reason ulcer doctors do so well! Of course, we all know why people put up with the negative vibes emanating from their place of employment (do I have to even say it?). There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and debtors to appease with partial payments plus interest. Given a choice, many of us would seek to change our work circumstances and surroundings. But as the old bit of workplace philosophy goes, most folks are too busy earning a living to actually step back and assess the situation - and make much needed choices to improve it. Need for income begets routine and ennui, and years later you find yourself dealing with the same challenges, the same people, and the same problems. Bosses, of course, know this, and many of them use your fears and tensions against you to advance some master plan, or even a short term objective. You understand what they're doing - and they know that you know. But they also know that you are willing to put up with a certain amount of abuse, so they have no incentive to avoid imposing negative situations on you - much less having incentive to actually instigate positive changes. There are, though, certain enlightened business leaders who realize that you get more out of a worker when you deal with him or her fairly; when a worker feels secure, and that s/he can trust their boss, they're more willing to put themselves on the line and produce. You may have been lucky enough to work for such people at some point in your life; if so, you realize what a professionally exciting and interesting place the office can be - and how much you're missing when you later move to another situation where the management isn't so enlightened. Instead of engendering trust and productivity, negative bosses and work situations bring out the worst in their workers - defensiveness, fear, and an overwhelming desire to get the hell out when the workday is over. If only negative employers knew what they were missing! That, in the words of site webmaster Ido Dardikman, is the idea behind his new site, Proletar (http://www.proletar.com), where workers can rate their employers, giving grades to their places of work on issues like work environment, job security, recognition of contributions, career development, and of course, salary and benefits. Money is important, but it isn't everything, says Dardikman - and companies that don't realize how important treating workers properly is are just harming themselves. "We want to help not only workers to communicate, but also employers to understand what they are doing wrong - and help them to fix things," he says. Lest you think that Proletar (from "proletarian") sounds like a 21st century version of the much-lamented F***edCompany (hey, this is a family newspaper!), where workers in hi-tech companies would spy out the situation and let the world know when layoffs or closings were imminent (the site, which had tens of thousands of readers daily in the late nineties, shut down about four years ago) - it isn't, Dardikman emphasizes. Yes, workers can - and should - complain when necessary (and when it is deserved) about the places they work, but the complaints must serve a purpose. Unlike the posts on the freewheeling F***edCompany site, Dardikman and his partner Udi Golan - who first came up with the idea for Proletar and has been a driving force behind its development - check each entry personally, to weed out vengeful, spiteful, or potentially lawsuit-encouraging charges. "Understand that we are not seeking to foment rebellions at any companies," Dardikman says. "Our purpose is to help employers understand what they are doing wrong, and to get them to change and improve negative policies that their workers are clearly not happy with," he says. Call it "green-style" complaining - a protest site with a purpose. "On the one hand, we want to give workers an opportunity to vent, but we also want them - and their bosses - to see how things work in other places, and hopefully encourage them to improve their management styles, when necessary." Sounds nice - altruistic, in fact - but is this any job for a nice Jewish boy? Where's the money angle? "Believe it or not, we're not doing this to make money," Dardikman says. Yeah, right. Really? Really. At least not at the outset. Later on, when the site reaches critical mass, Dardikman says he plans to take his ideas on how treating workers well results in a win-win situation for employers directly to the offenders - and offer them a program to set things right, as an outside consultant. And, of course, the site will include want ads, recruiter offers, promotions for life coaches, etc. After all, there are going to be a lot of site users seeking different jobs - especially when they read just how green the grass is on the other side of the industrial zone! The site is just a couple of months old, but even so, Dardikman says, Proletar.com has gotten a respectable amount of traffic. And even though this is an Israeli startup, many of the ratings have been by workers in American companies. They've worked out sponsorship deals with several other sites (especially http://www.youronramp.com/), so he expects things to pick up significantly in the coming days. Meanwhile, it would behoove all of us to peruse the ratings on the Proletar site. I, for one, like to complain - but after reading some of the personal hells some people are living at their jobs, I suddenly realize that life at the old Jpost isn't all that bad! startup@newzgeek.com

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