Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pia Beathe Pedersen - what is Norwegian for "overworked"?

Dana Franks, who works in the broadcasting industry in the United States, retweeted something from CBS News:

Norway Newsreader Quits in Live Radio Broadcast, Refusing to Read Day's News Because "Nothing Important Has Happened"

The link in the tweet went to an Associated Press article (so much for quoting it) about Pia Beathe Pedersen, who worked for Norwegian broadcaster NRK for 18 months until she decided not to read the news during a two-minute news segment, but instead complained about the pressure placed on staff. She resigned, stating that she wanted to be able to "breathe."

Not a lot of detail, and initially the only other article that I could find was from the New York Daily News, who compared her to former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater.

But then I found something written by Pedersen herself. Let me share an excerpt from a letter that she wrote:

«Etter å ha gått på en lang kronglete sti, i ulendt terreng, i hele mitt yrkesaktive liv, var det en drøm å få slippe inn i NRK som journalist. Etter flere år som gründer var en stor og trygg arbeidsgiver med faste forhold og lønn på konto hver måned rent gull for meg.

Luckily, Google Translate handles Norwegian. Here's how it translated the first paragraph:

"After going on a long winding path, in rugged terrain, in my professional life, it was a dream to be let into the NRK as a journalist. After several years as an entrepreneur was a great and safe employer with a permanent relationship and salary account every month of pure gold to me.

Her initial exuberance was short-lived however (language warning).

There is an unhealthy culture, an attitude to the employees who are sick. And as you might have to come outside to see;

- You should be fucking grateful that you are allowed to work in NRK.

She then says that she could write a book about her experiences - overwork, antiquated systems, noise, lack of information about how NRK is doing. But this one hit home for me:

The leadership that refuses to listen, and removes the cubicles because they have decided that it should be open landscapes.

I know that some techies love the open tables, but I have problems thinking even in cubicles. If I were at an open table, I'd upgrade my headphones to Bose headphones.

And this little tidbit was interesting:

Some job description, I have never seen. I do not know if I've done a good or a bad job, I know not what they expected of me, if I have adhered to the requirements of the undefined set.

If true, this is troubling. As much as some of us ridicule performance reviews, at least you (presumably) get guidelines regarding what your performance standards should be. What if you're being measured and you don't know the measurements?

So Pedersen chose to leave her position, which seemed impressive to outsiders, to resume her time in a "twisting path." But hopefully she'll be happier.

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