I'm a state employee...employed by one of California's community colleges and no, I am not a teacher (not enough money to make me even consider such a position). I work in student support services in a rather specialized sector. This past Tuesday I had a further breakthrough in an ongoing epiphany about my job and its expectations. It became quite apparent that it is not important that I accomplish anything, only that I appear to be doing something towards some sort of goal. How productive I am is not nearly as important as how productive I am perceived to be...while no one discusses this aloud, it is obvious from how we do business that this is our mission. I feel like I've arrived late to the party and inappropriately dressed.
We were having dinner with another couple this evening. He is recently retired from the Dept. of Parole where he was a drug and alcohol counselor; she is a high school teacher. They've been listening to my tales of woe for years now and they laughed aloud when I told them of my recent realization. The teacher said she tells every class she teaches that it is not at all important that they listen to her, only that they appear to be listening to her. Appear to be attentive and don't be disruptive and we'll get through this all fine. Once the shock wore off, I was laughing my head off at her descriptions of her work.
So my new work persona involves being enthusiastic, motivated and sincere but all part of an illusion we maintain to make ourselves feel significant in what we do. So in order to be a more efficient worker, I need to be a better performer...go figure.