White collars, blue collars… summer sky with some clouds

Tareq Neman, Baladna 

It is said that the typical relationship between the manager and his staff represents a life and career model. It is said that one cannot do without the other. The manager needs the employee for the implementation and realization of his ideas and the employee needs to be managed and directed, and also needs ideas to carry out. 

In a country like Syria we have to pay more attention to the relationship between managers and employees because we are a growing-up nation, and in such nations one single fault may cause untraceable problems, especially when there is a gap between those who wear the blue collars and the ones with the white collars.

Samer al-Homasy (employee in a private bank) said: “Many managers do not know the basics of management, but they have become managers by chance.” Managers often forget that they are human beings and deal with human beings, so they should show some compassion instead of arrogance and hegemony; arrogance is not in place here because the employee understands his work too and sometimes he knows better than his manager. I believe that if you have contempt for others, you will not achieve good results. 

The authoritarian egoist manager, who thinks he is always right while others are always wrong,  
negatively affects the work and the relationship with the staff” Samer said talking about methods that directors or mangers use to dominate. “They require too much to be accomplished in a short time. When you get exhausted and unable to do what you are requested before reaching the deadline, they punish you by deducting an amount of your salary or by warning you. They do everything to prove that they are the manager and they are the highest authority. I don’t like it when they do that; I lose my motivation to work and to be productive, I lose my mind actually. I decided to quit many times, but every time I resign my manager turns into a tender mother and convinces me to pull back my resignation.”

Salma Haded (director in a travel company) said: “As directors we are holding all responsibility for each and every mistake the employee in our section makes, so we have to be serious and strict. I believe emotions should not play a role at work because mistakes don’t take into account emotions; losing money or losing an agent will cost a lot and tears will not pay back the lost money. That is what I have learned in all management training courses that I have passed. I know that we –as managers- should be close to our employees, but believe me, once we show some sympathy things will get out of hand and they – the employees –will seize the opportunity to escape from their duties and delay the schedule.”

Raja Sarakeby (director in a petroleum company) said: “Being responsible for site managing is a very sensitive position. A site manager is responsible for successful management in front of his staff and his superiors. It is natural that the staff envies the manager and has a desire to take his place, but to be honest, directors are nothing without their employees and if the employees continue bad work, of course the director will be sent out of the company because of his incapability to lead people. So it is a matter of balance; the directors should help the employees by giving them easy and meaningful tasks and the employees should do their tasks without making mistakes. I myself try to help my employees to do their jobs and tasks when I have the time. Everybody is glad when I do that, but it doesn’t assure the employees of a good evaluation at the end of the year, so they have to be willing to work. However, I believe that showing some respect and sympathy can encourage them.”

The first thing students of management courses learn is how to motivate the staff and one aspect of this learning is how to give negative feedback.

“Employees should not be particularly sensitive to negative feedback, because it sometimes aims to improve their performance, not to criticize them. If I ignore errors, it will result in a negative outcome. I don’t care, or let me say, I don’t pay attention to the reality of the relationship between me and my employees. I care most about trust and royalty. Work is a place for action, not for making friendships,” Ammar Faoor (owner of an import-export company) said.

“There is no doubt that as the relationship between the manager and his staff is positive, the business is in better condition, and vice versa. I think that as long as the staff is dealing with and responding to the manager well, the latter will respond quickly and fairly to requests and complains if there. But, here in Syria, we have a dangerous epidemic, called ‘the commanding epidemic’. This epidemic, if I may explain, is nothing but the dream that tempts every one of us; that when we are in charge we will do nothing and manage everything in a way to sustain doing nothing; to place all responsibility on the employees while playing cards or surfing on Facebook When employees discover this fact, they will start complaining or stop working, or they might even do the job with tons of mistakes to affect the manager or director. It is a matter of being fair and honest; without those two virtues no company will survive,” Basel Shekh (employee in a private company) said.

Tarek Abbas (unemployed), said: “I worked in a very big and famous company as an IT executive. My manager was as not qualified as I am, so he was afraid I would take his place, although I assured him that I didn’t like working behind a desk and that I liked the fieldwork, working and dealing with equipments rather than with papers, but in vain. He continued to bother me and to tell lies about me to the HR office till they decided I am not a team player and I should leave the company. I know that being a manager is a temptation; no one could resist to work less and to blame others for their mistakes.”

Fayroz Shahen (employee in a private bank) said: “I think it would be nice if the directors and managers tried to understand the needs of the employees. All that the employee needs is to feel secure and relaxed. I am against the idea that assumes that to motivate someone you should make him feel unsteady and easily replaceable. I myself feel better and work better when I have the feeling of stability, but those white-collar figures have to implement their power and authority even if it is not necessary. I will tell you something; 90% of the managers in the private section are not working for the interests of the company; they are working to keep their positions as long as they can, and of course this will damage the internal system of any company, which in turn leads to sever losses.”

George Attany  (teacher in a management institute) explained the difference between white collars and blue collars: “White collar jobs are made synonymous to professionals, who obtained higher degrees and education. White collar jobs are linked to the generally higher-paying type of jobs. White collar jobs often entail cleaner or ‘better’ workplaces. White collar jobs are more corporate and managerial, while blue collar jobs are often the non-management, actual physical labor type of jobs.

Up to this day, there is confusion about discerning blue collar from white collar jobs. There has beensome stigma attached to some, most particularly blue collar jobs. Nevertheless, both jobtypes have their own set of pros and cons.

Traditionally, white collar jobs were named as such because these jobs originally required the worker to wear a shirt that is colored white, either with a tie or without one. These jobs are often those that require the employee to wear a tie and work within the safe confines of the four walls of their offices, stores, schools and the like. Nevertheless, it can be safely said that the era of wearing the traditional white shirt and tie has already faded away. Still, many professionals like doctors and lawyers don their ties and perhaps couple it with a white coat (especially medical doctors) to give the impression of a more serious stance.

On the contrary, blue collar jobs are not necessarily jobs that require the worker to wear blue shirts or polo. It is rather an expression which emphasizes that these employees work in a non-management position, like those jobs that may involve workers becoming dirtier because of physically working a little harder. Often, these are the jobs that require protection clothing. So, perhaps the confusion sets in when one would label being a doctor as a blue collar job because most doctors wear a doctor’s coat or mask for protection. But, medical doctors are white collar workers! Blue collar workers are the auto mechanics, drivers and factory employees.

Unfortunately, there is an undeniable presence of stigma on blue collar jobs. People often become too judgmental and say that these jobs are just plain ‘dirty,’ literally. Although most of these jobs are more laborious, not to mention dangerous for the employee because of the workplace they report to, this does not always hold true to all cases.

Conversely, white collar jobs have a better working environment, which is usually cleaner and cooler. These are the corporate jobs, which often have a good basic monthly pay. As a result, many professionals who hold a degree end up with a white collar job, while those who didn’t finish college will eventually end up in ‘just’ a blue collar job. Yet again, this is not applicable to all situations. Also, middle-class workers have been linked to blue collar jobs, while the upper-class workers have been connected to white collar jobs. Fortunately for blue collar employees, the truth about receiving a higher pay for their white collar counterpart is not always true. In several instances, they even end up receiving a higher pay than the white collar workers.”

So blue and white should work together, not against each other. It is very important for each and every company to regard the importance of every kind of worker and to deal with them as very important parts of the company, because there will be no successful white without the blue collar worker and there wouldn’t be a blue collar without the white one.


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