Sunday, December 02, 2007

Broken Company Broken Souls - Continued

Had some great conversations with readers these past few days both online and over the phone about Thursday's post. It was telling to hear several of you talk about living in this world either as an employee or as an organizational leader. It seems the scenario I painted is fairly representative of some current work environments from some well known corporations out there. But whether you're at a Fortune 500 company or running a small business with just a handful of people, any way you cut it, this scenario would be bad. Real bad!

So who's to blame? No one? Everyone? Well....yes....

Clearly entire books are written on this kind of subject matter but let me just hit a few of my observable highlights.

The company promotes a workplace culture that is obviously so not accurate. Leadership is to blame because they allow such an obvious misrepresentation of the company to be portrayed by the recruiters and hiring managers. A company can be excellent at attracting top-tier talent but if they don't have the uber hip environment that these candidates now turned employees, were promised and expect, it will only breed contempt and disloyalty for those who stay. Those harsh feelings morph into a culture of disconnection, broken relationships, unhappy employees and ultimately dissatisfied customers.

The company also appears to have extremely disengaged leadership. You see this a lot especially in smaller companies. The attitude becomes we were lucky enough to land these people so let's not rock the boat by being overly managerial and too in your face. Marcia's boss is a perfect example of clearly having no idea what she does throughout the day and likely out of fear of losing her and perhaps looking bad amongst his peers for the turnover, turns a blind and naive eye. The lack of his leadership and his expectation of accountability only serves to fuel Marcia's discontent and questionable behavior and becomes the temporal pulse from which his other employees and related departments take their cue. A rudderless ship full of passengers expecting something out of the voyage they agreed to take is a ship headed to no where and a mutiny (or abandon ship call) can't be far behind.

So what about Marcia, doesn't she bear some of the blame? In my opinion absolutely yes! Marcia is representative of the attitude I see in a lot of today's workforce. Many of today's workers so believe they are owed something from "the man" and conduct themselves accordingly. People must show up every day and put out a solid effort or they should move on or be removed. Marcia is no exception.

Marcia may have been duped into taking a job that is nothing like what she expected it to be. If so, she must for her own pride and sanity seek out and find employment that is more challenging and rewarding. Her pride in herself and her abilities should be encouragement enough to let her own internal compass know that the things she is doing at work, calling it work, isn't right. No, in fact it is downright wrong. Her attitude about killing time until she can resume her life should be the first indication that there is something wrong and if management isn't going to fix it she should. She should take a stand and be a change agent within the company if she believes the company is worth fighting for. If not, she should quit wasting hers and everyone else's time and move on.

But is it really that easy? Isn't it easier to just hope Marcia will wake up one day and feel guilty about taking that check home for playing on the Internet ninety percent of the time? Isn't it just easier for a company to say we can't get the right people if we don't fib a little during the recruiting process? Isn't it just easier to be a leader that is liked because you don't create issue and fail to hold people to a certain level of accountability?

I think we all know the answer to these questions. It's why we see companies that once held such great promise never achieving greatness. It's why we see people who should be so much further down the career path still stuck in neutral. It's why we see people losing self-respect in themselves by taking the easy and less bumpy road to get through the day. It's why so many companies are broken and why so many us go to work like zombies day after day; each day giving up a little bit more of our soul along the way.

Change in any corporation, big or small, is difficult. Fixing a sick department, division or entire company takes work. It is hard work but not impossible work.

So what about you? Are you a Marcia? Or are you a Marcia boss? Are you running a division just waiting for the battle lines to be drawn so you can settle in your spot to begin pointing fingers and assassinating characters?

Broken companies can be fixed with committed truthful leaders. Broken souls can be fixed with self-respecting employees who aren't going to take the easy personal road but would rather do the heavy lifting that is required day in and day out. Together with the right kinds of leaders and the rights kinds of employees a company can be created that people will truly want to work for and it will produce products and services customers will really want to buy.

Marcia and her company can be fixed and boy if they were real, I would sure like to give them some ideas how.

Ripple On!!!

No comments: