As I have been reading, I find that I am having an issue with workplace educators as they have been presented in Reading Work. So, I asked myself, why? I dug into last week's generative word list and the questions for reflecting on the text. Positionality kept tapping on my frontal cerebral lobe. Socialization - ah, cognitive skills associated with socialization is what happens there. Maybe I am on to something, maybe not.
I think I am trying to address my relationship to the work-site (my work-site) for the upcoming assignment. I am looking at how these researchers have positioned themselves within the workplaces they are studying. I like how Folinsbee positioned herself as a "trainee" - a non-expert and how that helped her to develop a trust-based relationship in which workers' openly shared their perspectives and work lives. I also note how she discusses the contradictions between what the workers' are told and what actually happens on a typical workday. Hmm, managers' viewpoints - takes me back to Hunter and the Urban Hotel. I review pages 112 and following, where the director's expectations for the front office staff's buy-in - willingness - to embrace the corporate image, from clothing, to attitude, to "going the extra mile" are detailed. I consider how this undercuts the very notion of autonomy that is required for empowerment. I end up considering maybe it's the executive level that needs some workplace education on diversity, empowerment, and the garbled messages they are communicating. Which, incidentally, does lead me back to my point - the role of the workplace educator in today's culture. This is what I am struggling with, and I realize it is directly related to the changes technology has brought to the work environment -my work environment, particularly.
Looking around at the employees in my office, I see a wide range of individuals whose education ranges from doctoral degrees to high school degrees and every stop-over in-between. I ask myself, how does education - learning job skills - happen here? The common denominator here is computer literacy. It is required for the PhD to renew her Human Subject Certification, the fiscal technician certification to access financial databases, and the office manager's training on "What to do if a Shooter comes to the door." This is not the same work environment I knew just 10 years ago - where appropriate groups of employees attended "work place diversity" training and everyone had to show up for the annual OSHA videos (that were always the same). Fifteen years prior to that, I gathered volunteers to "teach" interview skills and decoding court documents for skills required in that program. Today, face-to-face educating for proficiencies required in my current work environment are limited.
Robert Gephart, (2002) writes about the "brave new workplace" in the electronic age saying, "...the use of computer mediated information systems and telecommunications leads to changes in the modern organization...decentralization of work systems occurs; there is a diffusion of power and decision making." Further, he points out that "responsibility, authority, and accountability devolve downward' and an opaque line between management and the managed is blurred as employees lose sight of who has the power. This aptly describes my workplace. I may be a manager, but frequently my power is trumped by those who are "certified" to log-on to critical sites to which I do not have access. Indeed, if I worried about having access to the multiple systems (and keeping up training requirements to do so) I would never time to "manage" anything.
So here I am, thinking about "positioning" myself ....
Gephart, R. (2002) Introduction to the brave new workplace: Organizational behavior in the electronic age. Journal of Organizational Behavior 23 (4) June 2002. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4093810