I was commiserating last night with an old friend who wonders why she's not seeing rewards for all her hard work, and I was reminded of the First Law of Academe: If you work really hard, jump through all the right hoops, and bite your tongue when you'd rather complain, you'll be rewarded...with more hard work, more hoops, and more reasons to bite your tongue.
I don't recall which cartoonist said it, but this is certainly true here: "Accomplish the impossible once and they'll add it to your job description." Be nice, get along, comply with rules, accept responsibility above and beyond requirements, and you'll get to sit, exhausted, on the sidelines applauding while brash, obnoxious, demanding people run off with all the medals (and tread on your toes as they pass by).
It doesn't have to be that way--or at least that's what I like to tell myself. We have a new administration and we're embarking on a new self-study, so we have a rare opportunity for reflection, re-evaluation, and change. I've often said that if we all knew and followed our guiding documents, half of our campus problems would dissipate overnight--and many others could be cleared up by means of effective communication at all levels.
But that takes work. It's much easier to just muddle along rewarding complainers while allowing the compliant to accomplish the impossible over and over and over again without recognition and without reward. A retired administrator used to say that we're really good at hiring brilliant, energetic, creative young faculty members and then shooting them in the kneecaps. Maybe it's time to put down the guns, strap on the knee-pads, and get to work.