The tyranny of the underlings
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - August 10, 2019 - 12:00am

The image of a public office or a big conglomerate can be destroyed by an arrogant security guard, a discourteous telephone operator, or a self-righteous secretary. A major event can turn into a tragedy because of a careless electrician, a reckless IT operator, or a negligent technical assistant. The small guy can cause the downfall of a global brand. A stupid office clerk can cause the loss of a multi-million legal battle. And a stupid messenger can destroy the image of a public official. Remember, the lowest-ranked casual or contractual worker can be the proximate cause of the defeat of a political party or a leading candidate. Never underestimate the power of the lowly underlings.

Most often than not, in any organization, government or private firm, we always see that the top executives are very good, they are customer-oriented, pro-people and really want that each one shall get the services and the products that they paid for and deserve. But it is the subordinates, the people down the totem pole, the underlings, by their negligence, lack of focus or plain stupidity and ineptitude, who sabotage the owners and the top management's lofty intentions. The small guys can derail all strategies, spoil the whole plan, and turn a masterpiece into a major disaster. Somehow, it’s the leader who should also be blamed for allowing nincompoops into the organization.

In any government office, the frontline-receiving clerk faces the people without eye contact. He seems unhappy to be performing his functions. He carelessly files the papers and, who knows, that by his ineptitude, the papers may be misplaced, causing too much damage to the parties concerned. The people are lining up under the heat of the sun to process some documents and the guards are arrogant and lacking in respect and empathy even to senior citizens, pregnant women, and PWDs. The people have been waiting for almost an hour and the approving authority arrives like the big boss without apologizing to the people. He doesn’t act with urgency and keeps on interrupting his work with a series of cellphone calls.

In other offices, the clerks are giggling and joking with each other, while the people wait for their documents for many hours. There are new documents that have just arrived and they are the first ones being acted on, while those who waited since the morning don’t have assurance of prompt action, not even a polite update as to what time their transactions are completed. These small functionaries are the ones causing the peoples' loss of trust, respect, and faith in that agency or company. It is really the small guys who have the lethal weapons to sabotage the noble intentions of the top management.

If the company presidents and heads of agencies do not watch out, they shall wake up one day losing their jobs because they failed to curb the tyranny of their own subordinates.

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