Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nice guys finish last....

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Hmmm...what's that posted above the whiteboard?

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Ah yes. Well, it happens.

I've been working in government for the past 12 years or so...

And the experience is not the sort of thing I would wish on even my worst enemy.

While government service pays pretty well, especially if you're working for one of those high-paying government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) or government financial institutions (GFIs), the sad truth of the matter is that unless you have friends in high places, opportunities for ascending the corporate ladder are few and far in between.

In a perfect world, government service should be a meritocracy, that is, you are given responsibilities and compensation in relation to your capabilities..."merit and fitness" in government parlance. Sad to say, this hardly ever happens in real life.

I have seen employees who do nothing but nod their heads even when presented with hair-brained orders from even more hair-brained superiors and yet they still make their way up the ranks. I have seen ineffective people get promoted for no other reason than the fact that they are going to retire soon. I have seen people make wrong decisions left and right, and yet still get promoted for being pals with the powers-that-be. Stranger still, I have even seen people who don't possess the minimum qualifacations as required by the position, and even people who are saddled with administrative and even criminal cases...and yet they still get promoted.

Just because of who they know.

Hey, I even know of this person who got promoted even though she just made coffee.

I guess that must be real good coffee if she got to outrank other more qualified people.

Frankly it's sickening...but that's just how things are.

It's therefore no surprise why the quality of your typical public servant somehow falls a bit short of their counterparts in the private sector, and that's where I may find myself soon at the rate things are going.

The problem with working in government is that government culture as a whole seems to frown on those who are opinionated, those who are not afraid to say what's on their mind, those who are willing to say if something is wrong even if no one else is saying a word.

"Principled" in other words. And due to the way principled individuals in government service are ostracized and labelled as "boat-rockers", they tend to move on to other means of employment after realizing that they are reduced to being frozen assets and pariahs in their offices.

And why not? Be vocal, be critical, and you're soon branded as a threat to their way of life. And before you realize it, they have made an example of you, a clear and unequivocal warning to others of how doing the right thing and wanting to institute change can derail your career faster than if you were charged with for graft and corruption. And as if being idealistic was a disease, they "quarantine" you by assigning you to some forgotten back room which not even the janitor visits before you pollute other people's minds with all your crazy talk of "competence" and "integrity".

That is more or less the state I am in now. I still earn relatively well, but for the most part, I no longer have a career. I have a job, but no real career to speak of. Hey, it gets the bills paid, so who am I to argue?

I guess it's my fault. There was a time that I thought that I could help institute change in how government works, and naïve as it may be, I had always thought that if you work hard and show integrity and competence, you will make your way up the ranks. Despite my efforts, I have been bypassed a number of times by people with friends in high places or people who will say or do anything just to get ahead. And you know what the worst part is? It's not actually not being promoted that sucks. It's being outranked by someone whose I.Q. is only a few points higher than an eggplant.

Hey, it happens.

So, if you value your sanity, stay far, far away from government service.

If you're a nice guy, work somewhere else. If you're incompetent, unprincipled, a suck-up, or if you have friends in high places, well, working in government may very well be your ticket to the good life.

By the way, I was being sarcastic. :-)

As for me, I probably should be on the hunt for other means of livelihood...while I still have some sanity left.

If you spend all of your time arguing with people who are nuts, you'll be exhausted and the nuts will still be nuts.

- Dilbert





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