My daughter and her partner have just bought their first home: celebrations all round. Previously it was a let property and so plenty of work needs to be done to bring the interior up to decent standards. I was volunteered to help supervise the men who were coming in to replaster the walls in the hall by the front door. They were due to arrive at 10am so I arrived with twenty minutes to spare and, sure enough, they finally turned up at quarter to eleven: these things happen. As yet there is no kettle or supplies in the place so I couldn’t offer them or me a cup of tea. I sat down while they started on their work. The heart of the matter is I know nothing about plastering so my “supervision” was of a very poor technical quality. Lets hope they didn’t notice.
All to often people find themselves working for bosses with good skills in corporate diplomacy and self promotion but technically not as gifted as the people whom they manage. People further up the management line may not be aware of this, so clever are they at placing themselves between the beam of praise or recognition and those who actually do the work. These poor souls labour on in semi darkness while their smoother operating bosses do all they can to keep the skills of their subordinates a well hidden secret. Any results of their work have to be posted through their boss, who is careful to ensure that any talents they have remain hidden from those who might advance their careers.
When I started work I believed that if you worked hard and did a good job success was bound to follow: this can happen. It is also true that many who do great work but lack the awareness and networking abilities of their colleagues find themselves lost in some backwater while that irritating man who worked with them seems to propel himself up the ladder of success on the basis of getting to know the right people and skillful self promotion.
We all long for that world were ability is recognised and rewarded but, not infrequently, that only happens when the person in question leaves or dies. In the highly complex and fragmented world we now populate it takes more than skill to get ahead. I often hope that somehow those people who work quietly and unrecognised get their reward in some other way, far from the braying triumph of the men who have profited so well from their abilities.