Corporate Never Neverland Needs to Grow Up
By nature, I’m a person who likes timelines and deadlines, and likes to manage projects so that they’re complete on time, if not before, they’re due.
Maybe that’s why I chose a field where there truly are hard and fast deadlines — you can’t wait forever to comment on an issue to the media or postpone a news release indefinitely without your message becoming completely irrelevant. Just like you can’t plan an event without a hard date — otherwise how the hell do you book caterers or invite guests?
Sure, sometimes this means I’m surrounded by project plans and deadlines, but this makes it easy to budget my time and respond to the random aspects of my job that spring up with less stress because I know exactly where my projects stand and can pivot accordingly.
At least, that was the case until I took on my current role in an office where deadlines are so elastic you can’t even find them most of the time. Project deadlines can be pushed out weeks, months, even stretched across an entire year to suit the whims of the senior management involved.
There is also a tendency to go the other way — to ask for deliverables by a certain date, change the scope of the project mid-way through, and then bump up the deadline because management procrastinated for weeks before starting the project and is now feeling the squeeze.
It’s like working in a corporate Never Neverland where time is completely meaningless to those running the show. The mention of project logistics, timelines, and man hours is verboten — they do not concern themselves with the mundanity of such details and never seek to understand just how much work might go into a particular task.
So, your project might never be due at all or it might be late before you start it because it was actually due two weeks before it was handed to you.
You are of course expected to finish all projects on time regardless of any discrepancy between the amount man-hours required to complete them and the actual number of hours left before a deadline.
The sad thing is that this is not an isolated incident, this is typical of corporations and offices across North America.
This means employees are taught to expect skip lunches, work evenings and weekends, take work home with them, and even cancel vacations on a regular basis to ensure they hit the ever-shifting target of deadlines — no matter where they work.
To me, none of this makes any sense and people who consciously blow my timelines to hell based on whims/poor planning are disrespectful of me and my work and need a cold dose of reality.
I am the evil one who rains on their parade — I do bring up deadlines, timelines and feasibility. I will tell them that producing high-quality work cannot be accomplished in an extremely contracted timeline.
And above all — I WILL NOT WORK EVENINGS OR WEEKENDS to enable the continued existence of corporate Never Neverland.
You procrastinated on a project until it hit critical mass and now want me to spend my entire weekend catching it up, without extra pay of course. Sorry, I have unalterable plans this weekend. (And by plans, I mean I’m going grocery shopping then binge-watching Veronica Mars while I paint my toenails and clean the kitchen.)
Maybe I am a lazy, entitled millennial who refuses to earn her way up to the privileged level where working only the hours you’re paid for and taking regular lunch breaks and vacations is de rigeur. (Who fits this bill I cannot imagine because, if you ask me, executives still perpetuate the cycle of long hours and stalled vacations, they’re just paid better.) Maybe I do expect more than I’ve earned from my job — discounting all the years of misery those ahead of me put in, forming the base for today’s status quo of long hours and lack of respect for employees under the age of 35.
Or, maybe the system is just flawed and management needs to focus on understanding how much work goes into regular projects so that realistic timelines can be established, required resources are made available, and an adequate workforce can be employed to meet targets and make profits.
Maybe it’s time for corporate Never Neverland to grow up…