A field research project examining a culture [organization]
that could benefit and address its problems with a PWI Co-Lab
I have worked in my current position for the better part of a year now. The company I work for rents equipment and sells supplies for people who are moving. We rent a variety of trucks and trailers, as well as provide and install the hardware on personal vehicles for towing setups. The goal of the company is to provide the best suited equipment at a low cost for people who are moving (themselves).
When I first started I was responsible for the basic tasks of receiving equipment being returned, cleaning it, doing basic inspections, and stocking the sales items in the store. I was fortunate enough to have a boss at the time that was willing to teach me quickly and soon I learned additional skills that allowed me to begin working more directly with customers, identifying solutions for their needs, repairing equipment, and helping to direct the work of others. With an absence of an official Assistant Manager and a high turnover rate in the position of the General Manager, myself and a couple other experienced co-workers have come to fill those voids, learning to basically run the store ourselves; either independently or together, depending on each week’s schedule.
At the beginning, I was quite “green.” I didn’t know anything about the company, how things worked, or about the people I would come to depend on. I tried to soak up every bit of information I could, constantly asking questions and looking to those willing to help train me. Months later I have a new perspective. With a more complete understanding of those around me and all the little processes and procedures for carrying out our daily tasks, I have begun to question things.
I’ve noticed that, at least on the store-side of the company, the side that deals directly with our customer base, it is structured very rigidly in the form of top-down management. There are very few feedback mechanisms for both customers and employees to provide suggestions, come up with ideas, or even call attention to problems that need to be fixed.
I now face a dilemma that many of us have faced at one point or another:
- I can either continue to be vocal and stand alone, wanting to fix something that isn’t right, or accept that this is just the way things are, take a step back, stop caring so much, and collect my paycheck. I have taken the apathetic route before. I have also seen those close to me play the role of the martyr. Neither ended well for the individual, the company, and those around them.
- However, I have come to learn of a third choice. One that allows myself and anyone interested and invested to seek answers together. To create an environment where honesty, selflessness, purity of intention and reality can be experienced, new ideas can be openly discussed, without judgment, and collaboratively pursued to seek lasting solutions that will benefit us all.
The following pages are just a few of the problems I see in my workplace (concisely summarized for the sake of brevity) that either others don’t see yet, or have given up trying to fix because they couldn’t find the support needed to overcome them. If any of this resonates with you, regardless of where you work, I invite you to join in working to create much more healthy, supportive, efficient, and profitable workplaces.
This Case Study consists of the following pieces: