Do we have a victim culture? Do we get a good feeling by feeling sorry for ourselves, a sort of reverse schadenfreude? I’m sure that at times we do. I have felt for a while that it is not always healthy to dwell upon the misfortunes of the past. Our region used to be different and now the ship building and the coal mining has all but gone. They were big employers with thousands of people involved, whole towns dedicated to big industry. They were big rivers but that was long ago.
Woe, woe and thrice woe. It’s easy to fall back on how good the old days were and if we could only go back things would be much better. But they wouldn’t be, they’d just be different. It is like a ‘nowstalgia’ a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time that never really existed. I’m pleased to say that as a region we are moving away from this. The mood is much more positive and dwells on the future that we want to shape. We are a region renowned for innovation, skills and growth that delivers competitive advantage to local and global companies.
The question I want to ask though is whether such feelings are more prevalent than we think? At work perceptions are held of the other functions. Accusations of elitism, favouritism, arrogance, ignorance and poor communication abound. Such accusations are not levelled at the individuals, only the groups and any activity that might support these views is pounced upon as evidence. Activities that would suggest an alternative view are ignored.
And it is not a new phenomenon. People have come and gone, locations have been changed and organisational structures revisited yet the myths prevail. It is as if the culture exists independently of the people. I accept that there may be some truth in such perceptions and believe that as adults it is much easier to blame someone else than to take responsibility but am wondering if it suits our purpose sometimes that life is not fair.
Like a form of sibling rivalry we can blame all of our problems on the fact that another group within the service has better access, better toys, more training and any other advantage that you care to mention. It is easier that life is someone else’s fault and if only these differences were resolved performance would be so much better. Don’t blame us, we are the victims here.
Perhaps we are at our happiest when we have something to moan about, after all it is a lot easier to blow up trains than to make them run on time. So what is to be done? Perhaps we can start with recognising that a victim culture is a possibility and that it may suit our purposes that things are the way they are. Our culture has developed to protect those within it and a good place to start would be with an understanding of what that threat might be, perceived or real.
I might be the problem but it may be something else. I might be the victim here.