#18 Are You a Knowledge Worker? (1998)

rat All Rights Reserved © 1998 Thomas W. Day

You know you're a knowledge worker when:

  • You are an expert in computer systems that have been obsolete for more than two decades.
  • You work in a cubicle and never see the light of day, but have to wear a tie/skirt/heels/dress shoes because of a company dress code. You can be fired for "abusing" the dress code.
  • The "knowledge" you've accumulated in the last five years could be doubled in a two day business seminar, but the disused skills you've lost took a lifetime to earn.
  • No one under the age of 30, and not employed by your company, can identify an application for your work experience.
  • Your boss doesn't know how to do your job and wouldn't do it if he could.
  • Your boss doesn't know how to do her job and gets promoted to a position she knows even less about. Her replacement is an tall, good-haired MBA grad in his first "real job."
  • When you complain about the mindless tasks that get dumped on your desk, your boss writes "not a team player" on your salary review.
  • When you don't complain about your boatload of mindless tasks, your boss writes "is not career-minded and does not make active contributions" on your salary review.
  • The company offers a $5,000 hiring bounty for high school dropouts with Microsoft IS certificates and extensive Mortal Combat experience. HR sends you an email "thank you note" for recruiting a new coworker into your department.
  • If it weren't for your coffee drip-line, you'd be asleep under your desk every morning by 9:30.
  • Your office computer is so obsolete it has a teletype for a printer. Your kids' toy computer has features that you don't recognize.
  • You boss, who doesn't know that spreadsheets can add numbers, has a 300MHz Pentium Pro with every bell and whistle known to nerddom. She uses her CDROM for a cup holder and asks you to print her email so she can read it.
  • Your request to telecommute is denied because your boss is worried that no one will know what he does if you're not glued to your desk or attending his meetings.
  • All of your hobbies are more technically demanding than your job.
  • If you're a man over 40, urinating may be more technically demanding than your job.
  • Regardless of sex or age, urinating is more satisfying than your job.
  • Although you can't convince management to hire enough people to do the department's job, your job is identified as "mission critical" when the company shuts down between Xmas and New Years. You are "given" unofficial comp days, in increments of no more than one day per month (and no Fridays or Mondays) until mid-January when management reshuffles and all comp days are cancelled because they violate company policy.
  • Because of your many years of experience and all-around importance to the company, you are asked to wear a clown suit at the company picnic. You make balloon animals for the junior fast-tracking executives.
  • When you turn in your notice, your boss asks you to put off leaving for three weeks so you can train your replacement. HR doesn't notice that the two weeks notice you provided in your resignation letter has extended an extra week. You don't get paid for that week.
  • You spend Sunday mornings looking at the job want ads, wondering how long it would take to learn to do any of the jobs you see listed.

All of your fears are unfounded. Every company with a CEO/CFO/COO or any executive with a title of "vice president of . . .." "director," or "executive manager of . . ." is totally clueless about the function of the business. Anyone with your valuable experience as a cog in the wheel of mindless bureaucracy will easily find a new home in one of the many replicas of your current employer. Don't worry, be happy.

April 1998

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