April 26, 2010

Invalid Comparisons

Neil's place of employment has been a source of articles for me on what is wrong with Big Corporate America. Mind you, I have nothing against big corporations or the rich, because poor people cannot provide jobs. I object to arrogance and stupidity in high places, however. The very rich and the very powerful tend to get arrogant and act stupidly. It's almost humorous, except that they hurt people and tell them that they are helping them.

In this case, Neil's huge employer had a presentation for the employees. (You know, the "human capital" that gets used up and then discarded.) There was a list of the benefits that are given. In order to pad the list and make themselves into heroes, the bosses listed "benefits" that are required by law in the first place, and also benefits that are given by practically any sizable employer (such as having Christmas off). In other words, Neil wanted to ask (but did not dare), "So what are you doing that's different? What makes you such a special employer?"

One thing that they dwelt on was their health insurance. (Neil doesn't take it because it's crap, and it is better for him to get insurance from his wife's employer.) They compared themselves to other businesses of a similar size and nature. What they did not do that I can see are actually asking their employees what they think of the insurance, and also check to see what other companies (especially the ones that are rated as "best places to work") are offering their employees. No, it was a mutual congratulation festival.

I had a couple of Bible verses come to mind that fit very well here.

"Are you going to give us a lesson from the Good Book every day now, Cowboy Bob?"

Nope. People don't come here for sermons, so I'm not going to do much of that kind of preaching. At any rate, this is very relevant.

Anyway. 2 Corinthians 10.12 (NIV) says, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." That means if people are comparing themselves with each other, they can look good. But if they compare themselves to a higher standard, they look foolish.

For instance, some of my guys here were comparing themselves to each other while lifting weights. Yeah, they're all pretty strong. And then someone came in who can do serious weightlifting. Once he started with his amazing feats, my crew clammed up and found something else to do because they saw that they had nothing in the presence of someone better.

Here's another one: In Galatians 6.4-5 (NIV), we read, "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load." In this case, someone is comparing his work to a higher standard.

My advice to Neil's employer is to do some serious re-evaluation instead of self congratulation. Compare yourselves to a higher standard instead of to similar employers, and you'll see where you come up lacking. Also, get some input from the people you depend on to do the work!

My advice to people is similar: Before you get smug and proud of yourself, compare your work or accomplishments to a higher, true standard. After all, there really is "always room for improvement".

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