Saturday, July 19, 2008

red shirts need love, too

If you've ever watched the classic Star Trek series you will immediately know what I'm talking about. If not, suffice it to say that anytime Captain Kirk and any of the main cast went down to explore a new planet, they would take along a few red shirts - crewman wearing red uniforms, who would invariably meet their end before the opening credits, killed by the monster- or villain-of the-week.

In the Trek spoof Galaxy Quest, Crewman #6 realizes that his days could be numbered, because, as far as the main cast is concerned, he has no last name. Luckily for him, he is redeemed from red shirt status by the end of the film.

But it seems that in most jobs today, the powers that be still have a red shirt mentality. The majority of the staff, their lives, their dreams, are not considered. We're all just Crewman #6, 7, 8, etc. I'm not sure what the upper tier is really afraid of. That the red shirt will steal the spotlight and become lauded by their upper tier? Red shirts aren't in it for the glory. They understand that their contributions take place mostly behind-the-scenes. But that doesn't mean that they are pieces on a chessboard to be pushed around, or that they don't desire the occasional acknowledgment or pat on the back.

I am surrounded by folks who forget how important the red shirts really are. Hierarchal structure and management systems are so 80s. Work life has changed. Most people can phone or email in their work. We don't need all that structure. We don't all need to all beam down to the planet (or sit in endless meetings.)

I'm a red shirt and I'm proud.


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