Sunday, July 8, 2007

Whatever happened to individual responsibility?

Another heartwarming story of post-Rogernomics NZ society in today's SST: the case of Esera Visesio, killed when a faulty crane operated by Stresscrete (Fletcher Construction) came to bits while lifting a concrete slab. The Stresscrete Operations Manager, a poster boy for "individual responsibility" redefined to mean "me first and devil take the hindmost," spends much of the article attempting to convince us that his role as Operations Manager implied no obligation on his part to actually manage the operation. He was just an employee, same as the others. He was never told the crane was faulty (the judge didn't believe him, and neither do I.) He knew nothing of cranes. He had to make money for the company.The Dept of Labour was on a witchhunt. The worker shouldn't have been standing under the crane's load (presumably he was meant to guide the concrete slab into position by developing powers of telekinesis.)

The last claim tells us where this hero of post-Rogernomics directs the blame. "People need to take responsibility for themselves," he cries, presumably having had an irony by-pass. As a man who patently doesn't give a shit for anyone but himself, he struggles with the concept that his society might hold him responsible for the safety of the people he was managing. Surely their safety was their own individual responsibility? Having ordered his workers to use a crane he knew was faulty, surely the onus was now on them to be ready to run real quick if it broke while they were using it? Ah, the wonders of management in the individual-responsibility environment, eh? Too bad for him nobody told the Dept of Labour.


Chefen said...

It's a fairly common and contemptible trait in my experience. "Managers" with no desire to actually manage or assume responsibility who are still quite happy collecting the pay cheque. Individual responsibility would be not accepting a position that you are not willing to be responsible for.

Wilbur said...

What industry do you work in PM ?

Legio X said...

Do they make steel capped running shoes?

Dangerous job without faulty equipment, with it.... well the results speak for themselves.

Hmmm Fletchers share price is looking strong at the moment aye.

How many guys have been squashed by concrete slabs in the last 2 years? Theres been 2 or 3 in the last month alone. One was a 74 yr old labourer. WTF?

Psycho Milt said...

I'm an IT manager for a library, Wilbur. The danger of concrete slabs falling on my staff is somewhat lower than the construction industry, but the danger of death or injury through faulty practice or equipment is nevertheless present. I've been guilty of letting people cut safety corners to get the job done myself - the difference I think is that if the shit hits the fan, I'm pretty sure you won't see me in the papers trying to make anyone but me responsible for it.

Gooner said...

I don't get it PM.

Pre-Rogernomics the accident could just as easily have happened. And pre Rogernomics the same 'defence' could easily have been used. It has existed for 80 years.

What's a contract slab got to do with economic reform?

Psycho Milt said...

That's just my personal prejudice being exercised, Gooner. It was this rat weasel's attitude that impressed me as distinctly post-Rogernomics.

We had a major shift in ideology in our society in the 80s. For instance, when I went to university in the early 80s, the university was a great social institution doing lowly peons like me a gracious favour by deigning to educate us. By the time I came to work in one in the late 90s, students considered themselves paying customers doing the university a favour by paying their fees. Whether one approach is better than the other is open to argument, but the attitude shift is definitely there.

I think this bozo's attitude is part of the same shift. When I first started work, it was self-evident that a manager was responsible for other people. These days, the dominant ideology is "Individual Responsibility," which I have a lot of sympathy with, but which a lot of people seem to interpret as just another variation on "Me First" or "Lookin' Out For Number One." As one of these, the Stresscrete manager absolves himself of any individual responsibility to manage and says "People need to take responsibility for themselves."