You know, I was thinking about the state of publishing, how getting content out to market is the main focus and making a profit keeps professionals employed and companies profitable. But in thinking about this snapshot in time, one question still comes to mind amidst all this change and technological innovation: Where is the human element in the digital revolution?
After almost 30 years in the book publishing business, it makes me sad to see how people are a disposable commodity in the business that entertains us, teaches our children, and places the focus of generations into the electronic/carbon receptacle of the written word. Why did we get to this point? How do we make our industry more prevalent to retaining and retraining employees rather than ejection and expulsion? The world is changing, the instantaneous nature of tweets, blogs, and electronic downloadable content has put us in a situation where all content is in a madcap competition for consumer dollars.
When I originally started to think about this blog post over the weekend, I was going to focus on why publishing seems to “eat its young”. Everyone can be replaced, and everyone can be replaced for someone who will cost the corporate entity less money in some cases then the salary of the person being forced to walk the plank to unemployment. As Bobby Collins says, “on the inside I’m screaming about how the publishing industry needs to remember that the individuals packed off to unemployment today could be the supervisors in the next company tomorrow” (in which case I would suggest execs who cut people out keep their resumes ready!).
Be Kind, Be Gentle
I’ll let you executives in on a little secret, if you blatantly profited and were promoted on the backs of your subordinates and then you cut them loose, Karma will turn around and rock you off your feet when the time is right. But on the outside I’m saying, “OK corporate structures, you need to consolidate and rebuild because sales did not equate to projections and economic demands necessitate belt-tightening by the lower ranks on the internal corporate infrastructure, with instances of salary shedding to facilitate continued profitable existence.” That Bobby Collins knows how to turn a phrase into an extremely funny bit.
My advice to anyone out there in the publishing field, fight the urge to pull the trigger on your staff and see if you can come up with 5 things that the employee brings to the table that might be a level of undervalue before packing them off to corporate Siberia. In this way you will be looking at the glass from two different directions and taking the 360 degree view before making a decision that could impact a family into a downward spiral at a time when downward spirals are much steeper than in the recent past.
Excuse me but I believe you are standing in our Landfill!
Also, business decisions have personal consequences. Although a company tends to cut someone loose in a step to save money (“It’s not personal, it’s business”) there is always the possibility that the company is just “taking out their trash” to save face for execs who are sub-par at best and incompetent at worst. Companies that have a revolving door of hiring and dismissal are not places that you want to work in. The unknown abyss of whims and unfocused expectations will leave you in a position of constant uncertainty and doubt about your place and security within the organization.
Learn to Dance
If you find it in yourself, follow your own star, make your own music, use the talents you have received by whatever entity you believe in, and reach out and Rock the World! If you need some help, let me know and I will do whatever I can to help. Life is too short to worry about trivialities. Find your song and dance…
Follow me on Twitter at: Donald Schmidt@thebookkahuna