Fed UP! – More Detestable Bureaucratism from the VA.

I-CareI hate being lied to!  More than I hate being lied to, I detest, with every fiber in my being bureaucrats and the inanity they promulgate to excuse their stupidity and throw a wrench into the works.  Today I suffered through yet another call with my VA-appointed primary care provider (PCP).  Not an online conference, but a phone call.  Who was in the office with the provider and why?  How can I guarantee my HIPAA information during a phone call on an unsecured line?  How do I know who I am talking to?  These concerns and more arise when you receive a phone call to discuss important medical information, and my PCP does not care!  My PCP refuses to use the VA’s tools to conduct patient appointments and instead creates workarounds; what an ingenious method for telling lies and spreading falsehoods as bureaucratic inertia; I’m so thrilled!

The PCP continuously claimed all my imaging is “normal” and “unremarkable.”  The pain experienced cannot be related, and the sources are questionable.  In polite speak, the PCP is trying to tell me it’s all in my head; a previous provider from the VA already used this as an excuse for not performing their job.  For more than 10-years, I have been fighting the VAHCS for help in reducing pain and in getting to root causes for the problems experienced.  Yet, today’s call was just more of the same BS wrapped in feel-good words, platitudes, and bureaucratic non-answers.  Honestly, after the third time the doctor related, the imaging was normal and unremarkable; I lost my cherub-like demeanor!  I did not swear until I got off the phone, but I am not anywhere close to a happy patient.

Honest question, does the VAHCS troll medical school for the bottom of the barrel, those people who can barely pass a class, let alone qualify for medical privileges?  I need competence, and I get useless lumps.  I ask questions, and the snowflakes pop out of the woodwork like ticks on a deer or fleas on a dog.  I am thoroughly sick of being treated like a know-nothing inconvenience.  The most important person in the VA marketed PACT Team is the patient who will be active, engaged, and informed.  The second most important member of the VA Marketed PACT team is the Primary Care Provider.VA 3

Since 2002 I have had a problem in my gastro-intestinal system; since 2010, the pain has been debilitating, and four years ago, I was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Today, 22 March 2022, the PCP reviewed the problems area on my electronic health record (EHR), which coincidentally resides at the top of the electronic health record and was mentioned four different times by myself, and noted that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is not listed.  Tell me, how would that make you feel?  The PCP ordered today’s call before the recent imaging appointment on my abdomen and pelvis, but the provider, who called me almost 30-minutes late, did not even look up my record before calling.  Had not studied the imaging results and formulated a plan of action to move forward, yet as the second most important member of the PACT team, I am supposed to trust this bureaucrat; I think NOT!

Through the miracle of modern technology, I had read and researched the imaging results more than 24 hours before the scheduled appointment to discuss the results.  I came prepared, but the provider could not be bothered to prepare for a call they demanded, then had the sheer effrontery to keep repeating that the imaging is “normal” and “unremarkable.”  Then the provider has the gall to tell me, repeatedly, that I was yelling, when in fact, she only did not like being spoken to with emphasis and insistence that she do her job!  Yes, I called her a bureaucrat and a snowflake, whereupon she threatened to hang up the call, but I disconnected first.  I miss those old rotary phones you leased from AT&T, they had heft, and when slammed, they made you feel better about disconnecting a call.PACT_model

From research, it is abundantly clear that pain from hernias can show up or be felt in areas far removed from the hernia site.  Constipation is both an indicator and a symptom of hernias.  Muscle weakness in the legs, burning sensations, and much more are all indicators of a hernia.  Yet, when I asked about all the other pains and problems experienced in my abdomen, I was told the hernia could not be the root cause, and the imaging is “normal and unremarkable,” but the PCP could not answer why these other symptoms are unrelated when asked.  Where is the research, seeing as “Dr. Google,” is discouraged; Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, plus I have access to the medical libraries at the University of Phoenix and Grand Canyon University.  With less than five minutes of research, I can locate and read data from reputable sources to form the basis of questions to ask a PCP, which is encouraged of patients by the VA.  Yet, the doctor cannot be trusted to provide any intelligent data, do any preparation, or knowledgeably speak to a symptom list; when will the VA answer why their PCP cannot do their job?PACT 1

If only I were the only person experiencing these problems and issues with the VA.

Former VA cardiologist John Giacomini of Atherton, California, pleaded guilty to one count of felony abusive sexual contact.  In the fall of 2017, Giacomini repeatedly subjected a subordinate electrophysiologist to unwanted and unwelcome sexual contact, including hugging, kissing, and intimate touching while on VA premises.  On 10 November 2017, the victim explicitly told Giacomini she was not interested in a romantic or sexual relationship with him.  Nevertheless, Giacomini continued to subject his subordinate to unwanted sexual advances and touching, culminating on 20 December 2017, when Giacomini turned out the lights in an office, pulled the victim out of her chair, and fondled her until a janitor opened the office door and interrupted the encounter.  The victim later resigned from her position at the VA, citing Giacomini’s behavior as her principal reason for leaving.  Sentencing is scheduled for 12 July 2022.VA 3

Will the VA-OIG troll through this former provider’s employment history seek out the other victims, or will this be swept under the rug not to tarnish the VA?  Having been an employee of the VA, will anyone, EVER, look at how employment law is abused by the leaders in the VA and correct the problems?  This incident should never have occurred, nor should it have taken years of abuse to end this despicable behavior.  Yet, what does the VA do, shut both eyes and pretend it does not occur in consequence of the designed culture at the VA.

Why did the victim have to tell another adult that their behavior was unwanted, and quit their job, before the VA took action?  Will there be an inquiry from congress?  Will any lawyers stand up and demand the VA correct this detestable hole that allows this behavior to promulgate?  I am not holding my breath!

Speaking of electronic medical health records, the VA-OIG has issued three separate reports on this topic, and none of them paint the VA with anything that shows competence.  In the report titled:

Medication Management Deficiencies after the New Electronic Health Record Go-Live at the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC in Spokane, Washington.”  The following findings were related:

Deficiencies in medication data migration and management resulted in patients having inaccurate or incomplete medications in their records or made filling prescriptions accurately more difficult—all of which can affect patient care and safety.  Areas of concern included:

(1) Data migration
(2) Medication formulary availability
(3) Medication order processing
(4) Provider notification and alerts
(5) Controlled substance tracking
(6) Prescription drug monitoring program documentation
(7) Medication reconciliation
(8) Medication list accuracy.”VA 3

As previously stated, I am not as nice and never politically correct.  VA-OIG, please allow me to correct your assertion, “Deficiencies in medication data migration and management resulted in patients having inaccurate or incomplete medications in their records or made filling prescriptions accurately more difficultall of which DO negatively affect patient care and safety.”  Trust is the first casualty in war and in dealing with the VA in ANY form, manner, or method.  When you cannot trust your data to remain confidential, the entire electronic medical record system can only be rated as UNACCEPTABLE!  The upgrading of the electronic medical records system at the VA is a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar fiasco, and as a taxpayer, I am done paying for this system!

Not to be outdone by the medication side of veteran care experiencing failures, the following VA-OIG report was issued:

Care Coordination Deficiencies after the New Electronic Health Record Go-Live at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.”

The EHR rollout caused problems in coordinating veterans’ care, ranging from the flags for patients at high risk for suicide not transferring to veterans and their care providers having trouble accessing video appointments and patient portal messaging.  Tracking outcomes were sometimes lost, and disappearing laboratory orders also resulted.  Although the OIG did not identify associated patient deaths, future deployment of the new EHR without resolving identified deficiencies could increase risks to patient safety.”VA 3

Again, the VA-OIG is practicing political correctness instead of being specific, and upfront, the entire EHR is a disaster, the cost is prohibitive, and any fool should see it is time to pull the plug, cut the losses, and hold the leadership accountable!  Yet, what do we see; the EHR is progressing into infinity and beyond at a snail’s pace!

The final nail in the VA’s EHR coffin should be that nobody involved can communicate with the IT helpdesk for the EHR as the IT ticketing system is unreliable!  Form the VA-OIG, we find the following:

Ticket Process Concerns and Underlying Factors after the New Electronic Health Record Go-Live at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.”

The failure to process and respond to VHA staff ticketing requests for help or report concerns resulted in reporting, tracking, and resolving problems.  These deficiencies made it difficult for clinicians and administrative staff to serve patients and impeded EHR fixes that can affect future sites.  The inspection team also identified five factors contributing to the deficiencies identified in the two companion reports above: usability, training, interoperability, needed fixes, and problem resolution.”VA 3

Imagine for a moment, you are responsible for a multi-billion-dollar IT project, and one of the first issues discovered by the users is the inability to reach out for IT help; how long would you remain employed?  Would you ever expect to ever work again if any of these problems were your legacy for leading the IT improvement on a multi-billion-dollar project?  As a consultant, I know how fast you would be fired and taken to court for business losses.  Why are these leaders exempt?  Where are the blue-ribbon panels and committees demanding people be held accountable for this fiasco?EHR-VA-OIG

When the VA-OIG casually mentions that PCPs are untrustworthy and not using the current tools correctly, should the providers be issued new tools; NO!  Yet, this is the opposite of what common sense declares.  Are you, dear reader, as a taxpayer, fed UP yet?  My wife reminds me, “These problems happen in civilian hospitals.”  No, in fact, they do not.  If data migrated from one patient’s EHR to another patient’s HER, that hospital would be sued and shut down so fast by congress at the federal and state level, all before the media firestorm would have barely begun.  If a patient were jeopardized because their provider could not track medications, that patient would sue for malpractice and possibly a class-action lawsuit.  If an IT project was occurring in the civilian world, and the users could not contact the IT helpdesk, the project would be overhauled so fast, and people fired, new records would have been set.

Knowledge Check!It is time we end this charade and money pit call the Department of Veterans Affairs, and every other agency of the Federal government bloat!  The government should be leading, not lagging, where operational efficiency and fiscal sanity are concerned.  I repeat, only for emphasis, are you fed UP yet?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Shifting the Employment Paradigm – I Still DO NOT want to be an Employee!

November 2012, I wrote the first in a series of articles on shifting the employee paradigms.  These articles discussed the freelance or consultant versus the employee in the structure of the organizational design.  Multiple times, the right to control has been addressed as part of the “rights” granted by the Internal Revenue Service to Employers, so the employers will continue to play the Federal Government’s game of control and heavy-handed authoritarian thuggishness.  These topics and more continue to surface on this blog in an attempt to help the employee understand the problem and issues, the loss of freedoms and rights, in becoming an employee.

Today, Joey, the blundering president, has published the 400+ page OSHA abomination that forces you to lose the rest of your privacy to your employer—ending HIPAA, foreclosing your rights to your liberty not to vaccinate, and shaming you into wearing a mask and discriminating if you do not.  While the OSHA regulation is unconstitutional and a clear governmental overreach, Congress remains silent in its scrutiny of the executive branch of the government.  Worse, the citizens of America think that the judicial branch can be trusted to “save them” from the executive branch of government, which is always a BAD IDEA!

OSHA and Joey have declared that employers with over 100 employees have to comply.  After this is accepted, then employers over 50-employees, then 10- employees, and so forth will be targeted until nobody who employees anyone can escape.  This is how the government works, and this is why we need a different structure to operate under.

Employers, employees, I have a better idea than trusting the government to act responsibly.  It is past time to revisit the structure wars and redesign the employee/employer relationship in America.  What is the answer; knowledge vending instead of the employer/employee relationship.  Please, allow me a moment of your precious time to explain.

The idea is simple.  You have employees who know your business cold, know your customers, understand your processes, procedures, workflows, products, and services.  How many of your employees would love to brand themselves to your organization as knowledge vendors?  Ask them!  Then offer them the choice to become independent contractors using the IRS publications as a guide.  The knowledge vendor provides their tools, you provide them access, and they brand themselves and contract to serve your organization, with autonomy to work for you on their terms and schedule.

Please note, this is critical; the IRS continues to change the rules on an almost fluid and whimsical basis.  The link takes you to the designation between an employee and a contractor.  Lawyers will need to help design the necessary contracts to control the relationship.  Some assistance will be required to help those transitioning to ensure they are not killed financially in the tax tsunami the IRS likes to launch.  However, taking this step forces the Federal Government hand over OSHA and allows you and your now independent contractor workforce to return to business instead of compliance. Everyone retains their liberty, plus your privacy and medical records remain your business, not your employer’s or the Federal Governments’.

It cannot be stressed enough; the IRS should never have been placed in control over the employee/employer relationship controls.  Worse, these controls should never have been assumed by the government in the first place.  Since the Federal Government has assumed these powers, everyone needs to understand the fundamental categories that differentiate an employee from a knowledge vendor/contractor.

These topics are covered in-depth on the links, and I have covered them in various articles previously.  Until Congress removes these rights from the IRS, the contracts covering those knowledge vendors must spell out succinctly these controls to avoid the IRS meddling and penalizing the vendor and the employer maliciously.  More to the point, the IRS has, in the past, gone backward and retroactively changed its rules to penalize employers and vendors through “clarifying,” which the courts upheld.

Risky path to take; potentially!  However, all life is risk, and I cannot think of anything more perilous than capitulating to Joey and his merry band of authoritarian thugs!  Plus, America needs to join the rest of the industrialized nations in offering choices to the employer/employee relationship.  Tax laws, generally, and the IRS specifically, are choking the lifeblood out of American ingenuity and increasing the cost of compliance year-over-year.  We need real solutions to these problems and freeing the American worker is the best solution.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Session Title:  Able, Not Disabled, Not Differently-Abled

Introduction:  The following are my notes delivered at a global conference for disability inclusion held 27 October 2021 regarding how to improve disability inclusion in the workplace.

Description:  Increasing abilities by removing boundaries, discussing paths forward in ability inclusion, and building upon the great work Amazon and several other companies have done in pioneering disability inclusion in the workplace.

Welcome to a discussion on abled, not disabled, not differently-abled!  I am glad you’re here!  I am Dr. Dave Salisbury; I look to complete my Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology by November 2022; if you would like to participate in my dissertation, don’t hesitate to contact me outside this forum for more information.  I possess an MBA in global management specializing in human resource management, a master’s in adult education design and training, and have been a business consultant since 2004.  I am a dual-service US Army/US Navy disabled veteran.

My intent today is to help break down barriers so we can be comfortable around each other.  So comfortable that we can share jokes about my disability, we can look past the twitches, the spasms, and the stutters and find common interests.  Disability inclusion is precisely this, the inclusion into a society of those with disabilities to the point that we do not see the disability, we do not recognize the handicaps, and we can then work in an atmosphere of ability.

I have several disabilities, most stemming from injuries sustained in military service; some include my voice, some include neurological issues, and others are physical and mental.  Regardless, as these injuries have increased in severity, my professional intent began to be recognized for my abilities, talents, skills, knowledge, and potential, not for my disabilities.  Yet, I am often seen only as a disabled person or worse, a “token” disabled person filling a slot that another person could be occupying.  I ran into this thinking in the Federal government, New Mexico State, Bernalillo County, and Albuquerque City government hiring practices as recently as 2019.

Earlier in my professional life as a disabled person, I was told not to be thinking of myself as disabled but as “differently-abled.”  I am not differently abled!  Differently abled draws lines and limitations; it separates people and places boxes on potential.  Worse, it allows for the continued breeding of an “us against them” mentality, which breeds hostility and counterproductive beliefs.  Thus, I refuse to be differently abled.  I do not particularly appreciate being classified as disabled either.

Please allow me to digress for a moment.  The transitive verb “dis” means to show disrespect, insult, or criticize.  As a prefix, “dis” is defined as the opposite of something, depriving someone of something, excluding someone, or expelling someone.  Thus, a disabled person is either being disrespected, insulted, criticized, deprived, excluded, expelled, or is the opposite of able.  Frankly, I believe that when we are made aware of the etymology of words, we are then more aware of why people choose to adopt or not adopt certain words and labels.  I repeat, only for emphasis, I do NOT particularly appreciate being classified as disabled, for I AM able!

Words and labels should not be the focus of our attention and efforts.  I prefer handicapped to disabled based on the etymology, even though I don’t particularly appreciate being considered handicapped.  A handicap can refer to a disadvantage in task completion, physical or mental disabilities, and can intentionally place a person at a disadvantage; there’s that “dis” again rearing it’s disrespect, insults, criticism, deprivation, exclusion, and expulsion.  Please, let’s stop focusing on word games and plastic phrases; instead, let’s invest efforts in finding solutions to existing problems.

How big is the problem of word focus; in the past few weeks, there have been several email chains based solely on a person’s word choice preferences.  I would venture to presume that not a single person intended to cause insult or denigrate a community member by using or not using a specific word, phrase, title, verb, adjective, etc. in describing a person or population in the community.  Yet, people chose to take offense, and others rushed in to ameliorate the feelings of the one choosing to be offended at a word.  Bringing up a fundamental aspect of disability inclusion, individual responsibility, accountability, or self-rule.

I am able!  I take a little more time, need a couple of extra breaks, and use additional technology and equipment to complete tasks.  I possess skills, talents, experiences, and knowledge valuable to situations, teams, and companies.  I bring to the table unique perceptions, insights, and benchmarkable skills worthy of consideration.  I bring formal and informal education and experience that is invaluable and immeasurably useful as an asset to the organization.  I am all this long before we ever discuss my physical and mental concerns or disabilities.

My first priority is my personal safety and security; my first job is to look out for myself.  Monitor what I am carrying, how far I must take it, doors, elevators, paths for egression in emergencies, methods for being warned, and what I can and cannot do.  For example, as COVID-19 began, I knew I could not wear a mask and asked about those of us who could not wear a mask.  I saw the confusion on faces. I witnessed the policy shifts, the harassment, the legal segregation, and suffered legal abuse and discrimination for not wearing a mask.  I realize that eventually, my injuries will require my independence to be curtailed, and I will become more dependent.  As such, I have to monitor what I can and cannot do constantly and clearly describe this to those I work with.  The same should be true and expected of all people regardless of handicap or level of ability.  Individual responsibility for safety, security, and health does not end just because they enter a building and should be stressed as a regular aspect of workplace safety.

Amazon has performed incredible work and is one of the few companies that has done pioneering work leading to real success in disability inclusion on a global scale.  The question before us is where and how we build upon this work to improve the culture and potential of all employees, regardless of ability, in all industries and businesses, based upon the pioneering work of Amazon.  I believe the following action items can be the building blocks to successfully enhance the inclusion of people of all abilities, talents, skills, and knowledge.  I will revisit these questions when we get to the discussion portion; please consider these points.

  1. Conflict is good, beneficial, and a tool that is useful for building people, teams, and businesses. Douglas Malloch wrote a timeless poem, “Good Timber,” which is the quintessential discussion on why and how conflict is good.  Let us embrace conflict as the tool it is for improving people.  A handout is available for further consideration on these topics, and all bullets discussed, with reference materials for additional research if you desire.  Please send me an email if you would like these materials.
  2. Leadership begins with followership; followership begins with being lifelong learners, learning requires opportunities to teach, teaching is a prerequisite to learning, and learning requires the ability to lead and apply. – These are merely starting points to understanding. They are facts.
        • Do we encourage delegation and learning through experience?
        • Do we embrace failure as a tool for lifelong learning?
        • Leadership is not a title; leadership is first an attitude, then an action, and finally a method of learning and teaching. How do we apply these truths in daily activities?
        • Leadership as an attitude is witnessed in good followership, even when our followers practice loyal opposition; are we embracing the loyal opposition? Do we know how to recognize the loyal opposition?
  3. Flexibility and agility require open minds. Open minds need varieties in opinions, politics, beliefs, religions, and so much more.  Open minds begin with lifelong learning!  Lifelong learning requires self-reflection. – Again, we find fundamental truths, simply explained and expounded.  How are we embracing these truths in daily practice?  What actions are we supporting in the workplace to showcase support to and openness to variety in thinking and commitment to lifelong learning?
        • What book did you just read?
        • Did you share that book, recommending it to whom?
        • Were you excited about the book?
        • When was the last time you self-reflected?
  4. Do you believe?
  5. How will you act tomorrow?

Are there activities I cannot engage in?  Yes.  To my disappointment and chagrin, there are many activities I can no longer engage in.  Stairs are a tremendous activity I have to avoid; yes, this includes sidewalk curbs.  Standing and sitting for long periods have to be monitored and curtailed.  Walking is another activity I have to be conscious of and monitor closely.  I regularly mistake how long I have sat or walked and wind up in trouble breathing, or my legs give out from exhaustion.  But, I should not have to get into some vast dramatic affair just because my abilities are curtailed physically or mentally.  COVID-19 hit, I cannot wear a mask due to breathing issues; the mask mandates have been so embarrassing and challenging while also being segregationist, separatist, and legally expensive.  Why are disabled people still challenged on their disabilities when we are already disrespected, insulted, criticized, deprived, excluded, and expelled for merely being less physically and mentally able?

Ask yourself this question, “When I see a maskless person, do I condemn them first or think maybe they have a reason?”  That single decision is the key to the choice between building people and building disability thinking!  I do not need your answer voiced; please consider your response now and think about when you will witness a maskless person the next time.

Has anyone taken a look at the processes for obtaining work accommodations?  A work adjustment for a disability?  A mask exemption?  With all the differences in abilities, one would think the process would be straightforward to understand.  Yet, the opposite is often the truth because we refuse to embrace that we are all able and are programmed to first separate into able and dis-(disrespected, insulted, criticized, deprived, excluded, expelled)- abled.

The last two questions are not included for any reason other than to spark a conversation inside you.  Do you believe in a difference existing between disabled people and non-disabled people?  What will you do differently today and tomorrow to reflect your belief structure?

I learned a long time ago everyone has a disability, a blind spot, or an issue they keep hidden from the world.  Sometimes it is a missing eye, an arm, a leg, an embarrassing laugh, depression, anxiety, trauma, childhood abuse, adult abuse, the list is endless.  Yet, some of those “blind spots” are more severe and become listed as “disabilities.”  The government stepped in to classify people, and draw lines of segregation and separation, which did a lot of harm to people of all abilities.  I met a man recently who lost several fingers and partially lost several other fingers.  His lost and partial fingers never came up in conversation.  His abilities as a typist were terrific, and his talents on several musical instruments were extraordinary, but his missing and partial fingers were non-topics!  As a point of fact, I did not notice the fingers until I shook his hand in congratulations for his accomplishments.

Drawing lines, classifications, separations, and segregation, it never works.  Until we can look past, work past, and choose to live past the disability, we will never be equally able, and everyone suffers.  What keeps disabled people from being able; our choices.  What keeps able people from working together; our choices.  See the connection; how we choose is the single greatest determining factor in moving forward as an individual, a team, a group, and a company.  We choose to either be abled or disabled.  We choose to allow our comfort zone to define us or not to define us.  We choose to work together first or separate each other first.

Often a person lacking an ability due to misfortune of some kind will develop and magnify other abilities, an often-overlooked advantage to their value because seeing past their loss has become a lost art of possibility and consideration.  In other words, our humanity needs restoration.  Those who do not have a fulness of ability know the realities of unreasonable and unfair judgment rather than the realities of potential and are thus prevented from entering the world of abilities and possibilities by the much too often impenetrable establishment of discrimination.  We can lift people from where we are and change the paradigm of ability and advancement to a higher level of accomplishment and respect.  We can do this!  Do you believe?

How will we act tomorrow?  A similar question was posed by Brian “The Brain” Johnson in the movie “The Breakfast Club,” and new attitudes, new thinking, and new potential were born.  Are we willing to see past the outside wrapping, shun society’s labels, and choose a different path forward through action, learning, leadership, and healthy conflict?

Let’s discuss!

    • Conflict is good, beneficial, and a tool that is useful for building people, teams, and businesses. Douglas Malloch wrote a timeless poem, “Good Timber,” which is the quintessential discussion on why and how conflict is good.  Let us embrace conflict as the tool it is for improving people.  A handout is available for further consideration on this topic and all bullets discussed, with reference materials for additional research on these topics if you desire.
    • Leadership begins with followership; followership begins with being lifelong learners, learning requires opportunities to teach, teaching is a prerequisite to learning, and learning requires the ability to lead and apply. – These are merely starting points to understanding. They are facts.
            1. Do we encourage delegation and learning through experience?
            2. Do we embrace failure as a tool for lifelong learning?
            3. Leadership is not a title; leadership is first an attitude, then an action, and finally a method of learning and teaching. How do we apply these truths in daily activities?
            4. Leadership as an attitude is witnessed in good followership, even when our followers practice loyal opposition; are we embracing the loyal opposition? Do we know how to recognize the loyal opposition?
      • Flexibility and agility require open minds. Open minds need varieties in opinions, politics, beliefs, religions, and so much more.  Open minds begin with lifelong learning!  Lifelong learning requires self-reflection. – Again, we find fundamental truths, simply explained and expounded.  How are we embracing these truths in daily practice?  What actions are we supporting in the workplace to showcase support to and openness to variety in thinking and commitment to lifelong learning?
            1. What book did you just read?
            2. Did you share that book, recommending it to whom?
            3. Were you excited about the book?
            4. When was the last time you self-reflected?
      • Do you believe?
      • How will you act tomorrow?

Additional Questions, Comments, or Concerns, feel free to reach out to me via email or IM through LinkedIn.  Thank you!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.

Freelance or Consultant vs. Employee: Or, The Structure Wars

Labels, like manners, matter.  Social researchers are always resurrecting or creating new labels, classifications, and divisions to increase variable control.  Through variable naming and onto controlling, social researchers slip bias for particular variables into research reports, slanting conclusions, creating disharmony in the population, and destroying unity.  The results can be seen and witnessed in every facet of American Life.  Republicans are constantly pitted against Democrats, both are pitted against Independents, and inside these general classifications are heaps of additional labels, splitting the general classifier into ever smaller and more easily controlled sub-groups such as Constitutional, Conservative, Progressive, etc.  From this disharmonious adventure in social research has come a plethora of laws benefitting one sub-group against other sub-groups, upholding gender against gender, religion against religion, culture against culture, and forcing courts to choose.  The end result, everyone loses.

This same division has caused business organizations problems aplenty since the WWI era.  Government has forced business to uphold cultures, genders, and personal choice over what is best for the organization.  The relationship between law and the organization is going to be reviewed in future writings.  This first review assesses the definitions for freelance or consultant and employee as well as the relationship behind labels, and the dilemma and burden of the hierarchy of business organizations.

Freelance

According to UseLegal.com (2012) freelance workers are self-employed; work for their selves, bid for open work, and are independent of the business hierarchy.  Contractors and Consultants are considered in this category.  Freelance employees possess some tax benefits, risk problems, and American Business has embraced these classifications for filling work in times past to reduce payroll expenses.  Freelance workers must justify their work, intentions, and pass a 20-point test from the IRS to qualify as a freelance worker.

Employee

Again from UseLegal.com (2012) the actual definition of an employee is quoted herein, “An “employee” is defined as “a preference eligible in the excepted service who has completed 1 year of current continuous service in the same or similar positions” or “an individual in the excepted service (other than a preference eligible) . . . who is not serving a probationary or trial period under an initial appointment pending conversion to the competitive service.” Ramos v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 24378 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 6, 2009)”  Essentially, a person can be hired by an employer, but does not attain employee status and protection until that person has been hired for a continual year by the same employer, is not under a ‘probationary period,’ and or appointment.

An employee agrees to be controlled by an employer; the production of that person is only one of the controls granted to an employer; conduct both on and off the job can be controlled, along with the means and manner of producing the work specified.  The right to control is the primary determining factor in this relationship.  The right to control is also the deciding line between freelance workers and employees.  Upon this single imperative hang tax law, responsibility of parties, risk, and every item in employee/employer relationships, hierarchical structures, and will ultimately decide who or which party is in charge.

Fancy axioms have been created to express a need to become more creative in thinking, to break the model of dependency, and drive ingenuity and creativity back into the workplace, but these axioms do not reduce control and their purpose is immediately lost when applied to restoring workforce employee choices.  To change the paradigm, business organizations must evaluate their ultimate motivation with regard to employee relationships, and employees must decide as individuals how they can best foster their knowledge, experience, talents, and skills whether in a climate of self-control or company control.

Long has it been claimed that, “Those who pay, rule.”  By choosing to be an employee, the rights of the employee to control his responsibilities are surrendered to the employer in exchange for less tax burden, regular paychecks, and a continuity producing security.  Supervision, management, or control is placed upon an individual’s agency in exchange for less risk.  Less risk breed’s complacency, complacency breed’s compliance, compliance breed’s servitude, and thus the individual is captured in a system of control producing a menial mindset.  This menial mindset is expressed by phrases like, “Captured by the system,” Taken over by the man,” “Brainwashed,” etc., and has created a dilemma in every business organization.  The dilemma is this:  although business organizations have control over processes and individuals, this control restricts or prevents employees from doing exactly what business organizations desire in an employee, which is the ability to use ingenuity, logical thinking, and freedom of action so necessary in business interactions and transactions between employee and customer.

The epitome of this dilemma is that the federal government has consistently made having control more expensive through taxation, mandating benefits, and increasing controls thus forcing businesses to choose to either exert more controls upon employees or go out of business.  This simple fact is the driving force behind shifting the employment paradigm.  It is past time for freedom in employment to break out, to return to valuing knowledge acquisition in business transactions, and to enhance freedom in all aspects of individual lives and livelihoods.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Shifting the Employment Paradigm – Or, “I do not want to be an Employee”

The largest tax increases in history are inundating every business organization in America.  With President Obama’s re-election more taxes and problems are developing as anti-business, big government, politicians and are going to keep on attacking the golden goose of business until everyone is beholden to the Federal Government.  This is a cold, hard, ugly truth.  Maybe, it is time for business to strike back by shifting the paradigm.  Small business owners complain that even with current order demands, lay-offs must occur.  Medium size and large business organizations echo the same problem with ever increasing magnitude.  Business owners, decision makers, stakeholders, lend a moment of your time.

The formula for knowledge has always been education plus experience multiplied over time.  [(Ed + Ex) = K]  Returning to these roots is paramount to getting business back on track in a hostile government situation.  Every day consultants are hired and invited into business organizations for a synopsis and opinion.  Taking this thought one step further, consider those currently labeled as traditional “employees” and rebranding them as contracted knowledge consultants is simply an extension of a thought that can return American Business back to its roots.  Before WWII’s industrial capitulation to the Federal Government, what workers knew, how hard they worked, and their willingness to sign-on for the long haul were paramount to a successful organization.

These days are not that far gone, nor are they not able to return.  Employees cost big money.  The taxes, the benefits, the tools, the resource drain, all form a dubious risk, with little return, and a constant headache of hiring more people to now watch, manage, and interact with the employee.  What happens if this paradigm shifts?  Instead, of hiring employees, Human Resources begins to arrange human capital who freely associate with your business brand as they grow their own business brand as independent contractors, knowledge vendors, or knowledge working consultants.

Consider the secretary, administration assistant, or executive assistant.  Their skills are unique, the knowledge possessed valuable, and their methods for working in a storm invaluable.  Co-opting them into knowledge vendors does two things:  raises their status and allows innovation into an arena stifled by paperwork and business processes.

Call centers; replace the phone reps with knowledge consultants.  The task shifts from simply answering the phone to having a personal interest in remaining affiliated with a brand.  Consider the change in attitude apparent to the customer from the first interaction.  What are the possibilities of a customer service rep abusing a customer when the rep is now a vendor, affiliated with your brand, knowing their personal brand is both reflected in their take home pay and future contracts are dependent upon current actions?

Long has responsibility and accountability been missing from the manufacturing employee and the construction employee regardless of union membership.  How many times would manufacturing employees destroy company property and waste production time and construction employees work intentionally slow to delay projects and increase costs if they knew their reputation and future contracts are dependent upon current actions and knowledge and, therefore, have a personal stake in the business outcome.

This model eliminates much of the middle management landscape as their roles have diametrically changed.  Those remaining as traditional employees in this organizational model would possibly be restricted to a small core of individuals oriented as service delivery officers knowledgeable for their expertise areas on the corporate level, i.e. IT/IS, HR, CFO, Operations, etc., wholly customizable to organizational needs, security concerns, and future goals.  Their role has changed from management of numbers and data to leaders of people.  This new organizational model places business owners and service delivery officers into partnership with the knowledge contractor.

This idea means the average employee right now will need assistance in understanding contracts, and human resources will need to ramp up to fill a new market of vendor management and contract negotiations, central to their role in human capital development, and both of these skills sets are trainable and easily conquered.

Instead of laying-off an employee, present to the employee the opportunity of becoming a knowledge consultant affiliated with your organization, explain the plan, co-opt their ideas into this rough outline, and grow your organization.  The best ideas will come from your current employees desiring to become knowledge contractors for a customized solution to your organization.  Your company and individual consultants singularly contract these negotiations.  Over time patterns in contract negotiations, will emerge bringing efficiency and additional cost savings.  By working with employees, honestly communicating, and searching for answers outside the box, dynamic change will come back to America and business will see a better day.

This concept is not new; benchmark current commission sales reps and current vendor contracts.  The training is available through public sources online.  Many organizations stand at the ready to assist in a transition to this model and are local to your organization.  Additional assistance and information is available.  Please contact me using email.

Dave Salisbury is pursuing is PhD in Management as an Organizational Psychologist.  He possesses a dual Masters in Adult Education and Training and an MBA in Global Management specializing in Human Resource Management.  He is available at mdavesal@gmail.com.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved