I had a situation at work recently that recently intrigued me. My company (big-pharma) was conducting their semi-annual communications meeting, which is basically a meeting the big-wigs put on to convey how our company as a whole is achieving in the market place and how our site compares to the others world-wide.
All employees, from the janitor up to the CEO attends. After all the basic information is covered (dollars, market fluctuations, etc.) is covered, the forum is opened up for questions to any and everyone about any facet of the company at all. Now, as with most big companies, there is always some “tension” between the production workers out on the floor and management. This isn’t really a new concept so I won’t go into details as to what all it could encompass.
I myself am more middle management, so I was able to kind of step back and observe this meeting from both ends. During part of the initial presentation regarding gross profits for the year, one of the slides revealed a percentage of profits that the “big-wigs” received as a bonus on top of their already large salaries.
And after the presentation, one of the production operators raised a question regarding this very topic. He addressed it to one of the the senior VPs of the company. He basically asked this VP how could he justify this large bonus he received (which amounted to almost 100K), when the production operators were busting their butts to get a 3-4% raise on a 30K annual salary.
When asked, the senior VP sat silent for a moment, and then said the most wonderful thing I’ve ever heard: “Well” he said, “I guess you chose the wrong career path now didn’t you.” The entire crowd went silent, and the meeting was quickly dismissed shortly thereafter.
Now I understand that this was not the PC thing to say, and that sensitivity to all employees is paramount in these situations, but I wanted to run up and just shake this man’s hand. In one utterance he had completely given me new hope in the American dream, and what hard work and perseverence will get you. He had also reaffirmed the one lesson that is so hard for people to grasp these days, and it is that life isn’t always fair. I guess I’m just curious how others out there see this.