Friday, August 29, 2003

I had an old friend over for dinner last night. We've known each other for many years. Grew up together. It was another place and another time, and I certainly never thought we'd end up so closely linked in this far away land after all these years.
Now the funny thing is that our situations are very similar. Not our personal lives - I've opted for a family, house and pets, while he's doing the bachelor thing with a cool car, condo by the beach, and no attachments - but our professional lives. Though our fields of expertise differ and the work we do is of a dissimilar nature, we both find ourselves having the owner of the company himself as our boss.
This type of situation is not to be compared to that of much smaller business enterprises, such as a small corner grocery store, where it's basically the owner, his wife and a hired clerk. No, though the two companies I speak of clearly belong in the realm of "small business," they each employ somewhere around 30 workers.
In both our cases the operation is entirely run by us and the company employees are under our supervision. We answer directly and only to the President and owner of the company. This has its pros and cons. Obviously there's a great deal of autonomy allowed, but there's also a lot of direct pressure on us to keep things within certain budget restrictions.
The most bothersome part of such an arrangement is the tacit understanding there is between the owners and the managers, that the manager is obligated to "willfully" sacrifice his time and personal needs for the good of the company. It is silently acknowledged by both participating parties that, though not directly benefiting from the net profits gained by the company, it is the manager's duty to treat the business as if it were his own.
This creates a conflict of sorts, since the manager's hard work is not complimented by bonuses or overtime. His base salary is supposed to be handsome enough to cover any extra hours he may have to put in. But after a while that early eagerness we have when we first get hired on, to work restlessly in pursuit of lofty unselfish goals for the overall good of the company, gets lost in the bitterness inevitably born when we tire of the thankless rewards we reap, day after day.
The bottom line is that you are just an employee, and like other employees you would like to be reimbursed for the time you spend on the job. It isn't fair for the owner to put you in a position where you are expected to think and act like a partner while in actuality you're just another poor working stiff.

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