Welcome to the Period of Post-Quality, where the details don’t matter

Two men sitting in conference room

Remember when attention to detail used to matter?

A lot has changed since the 2008 financial crisis.

Some of the aftershocks are more obvious. There are fewer jobs. Fewer opportunities.

Wealth and abundance flow into Wall Street, while capital and resources are siphoned from Main Street.

Yet some of the effects are more abstract — harder to define. People sense there’s something off, but they’re not sure how to put it in words.

It’s vague, and harder to pin down, but there’s a definite difference in the way we do business.

I thought about it for a while, and out of nowhere, it hit me:

There’s less of a commitment to quality these days, and more of a focus on volume.

You see it everywhere, from the way we communicate to the products we buy to the superficial summaries we hear on the news.

Instead of forging a few meaningful relationships, we’re firing off friend requests to everyone online.

Rather than reading an article in-depth, we’re glancing at our phone and skimming the headlines.

Instead of fine-tuning the tiniest of details, we’re glossing over the aggregated data.

Like I said, it’s abstract and murky, but it’s a general sense that we’re not doing things as well as we could.

And I’ll be the first to admit: Maybe it’s just my perception. Maybe I’m turning into a crusty, old curmudgeon who grouses about social media and laments the good-old days when every phone had a cord.

But I don’t think so. I’m an older Millennial — just on the verge of being in Generation X — and I remember when things were different.

It’s not a dramatic change — like Marty McFly traveling to an alternate 1985 — but it’s there. It’s noticeable.

Details used to matter. Meticulousness used to count.

Go-getters would seek methods to add value to their jobs, and their motivation would be recognized and rewarded.

I’ve had some unpleasant experiences in the past. I was a receptionist for a small office, so I endeavored to create value for my employer. I was tasked only with answering the phone, but I offered to write ad copy, shoot video, start a blog, design intricate flyers.

I wasn’t looking only to advance. I wanted to develop a reputation as a valuable go-to and a knowledgable resource. I wanted people to regard me as an indispensable member of the team.

Yet that didn’t happen. The effort went nowhere. The details didn’t matter.

Despite my asking, the position didn’t expand to encompass all my skills.

Now granted, that’s only one bad experience. And it encouraged me to seek employment with my current company, where grit and heavy-lifting are appreciated.

But there’s a general malaise these days — and not just among Millennials like me. People in generations before mine feel the same way.

How do I know? I talk to them.

I’ve always felt more comfortable with people older than myself — which is a huge benefit in the workplace. Experienced professionals have stood in your shoes, and they can advise you on how to avoid the mistakes that they had to learn on their own.

I’d rather someone instruct me on the wisdom of tying my shoes, rather than falling flat on my face and finding out for myself.

I’ve heard many Baby Boomers talk about how things aren’t as good as they used to be. People cared more, they say. A job well-done was a badge of honor.

People aren’t as invested now, they tell me. Employees show up, but they shovel work onto others, or they make pompous declarations without considering all the facts.

These aren’t burned-out cubicle-dwellers on the verge of retirement. These are people I admire and trust. They’re not begrudging change, or holding their era in higher esteem.

When they tell me that things used to be better, I believe them. And I agree.

We’re living in a high-gloss, low-wattage society. There’s no substance beneath the surface. The perception of competency is paramount, but actual experience is scarce.

We pad our LinkedIn profiles with buzz-terms and jargon, but there’s no actual wizard behind the curtain. We build dense, keyword-specific resumes, but there’s no character beneath the clutter.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether it’s technology making us complacent, or the aftershocks of an all-embracing recession, we can choose to be the indispensable go-to who’d do anything to help out a colleague.

We can decide to be the master of details who’s known for accuracy and efficiency.

We can elect to be the resourceful collaborator who’s always seeking new ways to add value.

This doesn’t have to be the Period of Post-Quality. But it’s up to us.

If we can shake off all the malaise and complacency and rediscover our entrepreneurial roots, we could be living in a golden age where character counts, hard work is appreciated, and demonstrated proficiency is valued higher than smooth-talking swagger.

Details should matter. Competency should count. Hard work and resourcefulness should be rewarded.

That’s the way things used to be. And I’m hopeful that one day — once again, with any luck — that will be the way things are.

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16 thoughts on “Welcome to the Period of Post-Quality, where the details don’t matter

  1. SD Gates

    I completely agree. I try to work as I have always done, doing the best I can, making our patients as happy as I can, doing little extra things – and I hope it will rub off on my younger coworkers. And for the most part, I think it does. But I will not be sucked into the quagmire of complacency and half-assedness (apparently that isn’t really a word).

    Liked by 2 people

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  2. lunix1583

    It’s not just you who thinks this. After finding myself out of a job recently (thank god, my manager was incompetent and hated that my strong work ethic and intelligence was actually making her look bad – solution to that would be to work smarter) many roles I see seem to encompass a multitude of skills and responsibilities but for half the pay. I think many companies seem to want one person doing three people’s jobs and cut their salaries by a third, but that equals low job satisfaction and means there are less jobs out there for others.

    I think it still pays to be a person of quality. It means you can (hopefully) find the right organisation or type of work for you.

    Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Colane Conundrum Post author

      I agree. I still think it pays to be a person of quality, too — especially now. People who churn out consistently high-quality work are growing more and more scarce. Even though quality no longer seems to be the expectation, I always want to uphold my personal standards.

      I’m sorry about your job loss, but keep on carrying the torch of quality. Best wishes, and thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. In My Cluttered Attic

    So that explains it. For years people have been complaining about my blog, saying, “Paul, what’s wrong with your blog, why doesn’t it have any quality?” But did I listen? No, I just kept obliviously churning out post-after-post, each of them full of rubbish. Oh sure, garbage collectors were enthralled, but true lovers of finely tuned blogs everywhere always found their way over to the collection of Discover blog post instead of mine. Naturally, WordPress has taken their lead and ignored mine altogether. Well, from now on my blog will become obsessed with that period known as POST QUALITY! No more sub-par post from me, no sir! From now on all my post will have quality… AND LOTS OF PERIODS!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Colane Conundrum Post author

      Paul, rest assured, if I want a quality laugh, I always head to the Attic — and never to Discover.

      The Period of Post Quality is going to need some creative trailblazers, so I say let’s keep churning out the posts. If we work hard enough and put our minds to it, then maybe one day we’ll achieve the kind of watered-down mediocrity the world craves so much!

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      1. In My Cluttered Attic

        Allen, you’re so right. You just can’t fake mediocrity, you either have it or you don’t. Practically anyone can turn out excellence, why just look at Discover—which, if you’ll note, the WordPress people seem to be enamored with! I refuse to turn out that kind of high-quality humdrum on principle…and because I haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet. However, if I ever do, you can be sure WordPress won’t list me on Discover because they’ll just think I got lucky, or that it was a complete accident—and they’d be right. This is why pedestrian, second -rate, and vanilla-like quality posts continue to be the hallmark of my blog. I work tirelessly and mindlessly to provide my readers with what they can’t find elsewhere—top-notch fair to middling characterless uninspired material. I mean, where else are you going to find that, right? And people think its easy. HA! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Gastradamus

    Your writing is like a scorcese picture, on the go go and it’s exactly what we like the best at Gastradamus. We would love your thoughts on our short stories. Infant rice is our latest. If you comment than I will be more than happy to promote your blog, hope to see more of you, woof woof

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Gail Kaufman

    I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I am not so optimistic that things will return to the way they were. My obsession with detail makes me a dinosaur. Most people no longer have the time, patience or inclination to read an email in its entirety, provide a thoughtful response and retain the information. Rightly so because employers do not seem to care.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Colane Conundrum Post author

      I always hold out hope, but I fear you may be right, Gail. I have to laugh, though, because I have a co-worker who always screams that people don’t read their e-mails. She’ll send a note to someone saying, “Please make sure we have the report by Tuesday.” Then the person will reply and say, “Will do. What day should we get the report?” She’ll go on a tirade about how people need to READ.

      But it’s true that quality seems to be diminishing everywhere. It seems everyone’s too busy to do things right.

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  6. sportsattitudes

    A subject near and dear to my heart Allen. All the nonsensical buzzwords and jargon companies crank out about how great they are and how they’re making a real difference in the world…and all they’re doing is putting out fires 24/7 while their employees feel like they are actually on fire. Complacency rules. Being an employee – being a company – were indeed better back in the day. As were relationships both inside and outside of the workplace. As a Baby Boomer I have now become the “old man on the porch” in the eyes of all the media and many eyes of younger demographics in that anytime I say something – anything – was better in prior years all those eyes start to collectively roll. It has gotten to the point I rarely try to point out a better way is available. Why? I’ve become complacent also. I still carry a torch for quality but I fear it is about to be snuffed out by the combination of mediocrity being acceptable…and employees being expendable.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Colane Conundrum Post author

      It’s sad, isn’t it? It feels like we’ve truly lost something meaningful about our lives and about ourselves, and I can only hope we get it back. There’s nothing substantive anymore. It’s all about appearances — and that’s it.

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. Sandi

    Yes, I agree. Employees show up, but they shovel work onto others –

    I have found them to be unwilling to put forth “true effort” – want top dollar, but don’t care to actually work. Will let others in the department pick up their slack. Then be highly offended if they aren’t promoted or earn increases…OR are promoted / provided increases for jobs they aren’t doing! My husband and I were just talking how the generation used to short-cut texting, can’t even write a proper paragraph. Their e-mails have several typos (because they won’t utilize spell check) possibly not even know how to spell or the difference between to, two, too vs. 2. (they’re vs. their or there) and unable to thoroughly communicate! And think it’s funny when someone asks for further clarification. Oh, yeah, I meant that.

    I’m truly embarrassed for them and astounded that not only don’t they care, but find it amusing! I’m a detail person. Try your best to do it correctly, the first time! Be reliable. Meet deadlines, follow up. Sadly, this is no longer valued. Until the shit hits the fan, and the manager comes running to you to fix the mess…and to hurry up about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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