October 12, 2022
There has been some discussion on-line recently about how to deal with “disruptive employees.” As a charter member of this group I feel compelled to defend this misunderstood demographic. When I say “disruptive” I am not talking about the pick a fight with co-workers, carry a grudge for years before gunning everyone down sort of malcontent that erupts into headlines several times a year. Most of the disruptives I have met are far too polite and caring to misbehave that way. Our kind of disruption is questioning methods and practices currently in use and developing what we think are better ways of getting things done. I first got tagged “disruptive” in high school history class for going outside the officially approved book list to write a paper on our school’s namesake, Alexander Hamilton. It turns out a report supporting Aaron Burr’s position that the former Treasury Secretary was not a nice man was unacceptable to school administrators. At the conclusion of my drafting apprenticeship I was informed that, despite great marks and good reviews, I was not welcome to join the drafting room crew. Apparently the journeymen did not like anyone completing drawings in less than the very fat “rates” they circulated amongst themselves. I just couldn’t handle the boredom of the place and had no interest in the annual gardening contests conducted along the massive wall of windows. Fortunately there was an interesting spot open in development engineering. Within 10 years the drafting room was reduced from forty to eight by the introduction in Computer Aided Drafting [CAD] and the gardening contests came to an end. My point is this: when otherwise effective employees question incumbent ways of doing things you might want to listen. CAD was going to revolutionize drafting anyway but productivity could have improved years earlier with a more open attitude on the part of supervisors.