An Expectation of Hierarchy

An Expectation of Hierarchy

July 17, 2012 6:26 pm 0 comments

I have worked a job since I was 14 years old. I started with a work permit that I had to get from my school to allow me to work over the summer during the ’96 Olympics, and I’ve worked ever since. During that time, I have worked full time and part time, in professional jobs and in unskilled labor positions. I’ve worked for myself and for corporate America. And through these experiences, I’ve identified one thing that makes every job stressful: an expectation of hierarchy.

Most people hate it and love it at the same time. We want titles that prove to others our worth, but we hate navigating the power differences within a company’s culture. For me, nothing can be more frustrating than having two superiors, each thinking what they want or need or think is more important than the other, telling you contradictory things. When you’re a subordinate, what can you do except to hope someone caves? And every office has the one person who thinks their title entitles them to treat everyone else terribly, right?

As with most things, I see myself straddling the general preferences of Boomers and Gen Y. The latter overwhelmingly prefers a more flat company structure, while the former prefers to have new titles to work towards. I exist in the middle, wanting the title that earns me respect (and compensation) based on my contributions, but I dream of a flat culture where that isn’t needed – where my ideas and work alone are enough to justify everyone’s respect.

I keep hearing that all of this will change when Millennials assume the power in companies. That is happening now, so here’s to hoping.

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