Why Employees Stay With an Organization – A Question of Loyalty

Toby

Over the years I’ve read a lot of articles about why people leave companies. These often lack perspective.  They don’t explain at all why people remain at companies – which is an equally important way to gauge how well a company attends to its people.  You might think that the exact opposite of what forces employees to leave might be what compels others to stay.  In some cases that is right, but in others, it isn’t.

The easy answer as to why people remain in a company is loyalty. Where does loyalty come from?  Companies have been trying to crack that nut for some time.  Most never will because why they bemoan that they want/expect loyalty; they are, at the same time, sending jobs overseas or simply laying people off.  Welcome to the dichotomy of corporate culture!

Consider, if you will; having a job is the same as a personal relationship.  Over time, there is a give and take, a sense of trust, an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Some people have put in so much time and effort in their careers they feel they owe their organization something back.  That sense of obligation is loyalty – and it is often a powerful motivator for people to stay where they are at.

So where does loyalty come from.  Here are my suggested reasons that most employees stay at their organizations and what are the root causes of an employees’ concept of loyalty:

They believe their work makes a difference.  This is different than job satisfaction.  This is knowing that their contribution to the organization has impact.  It’s not about being happy with your work – It is about knowing you are moving the proverbial needle.

The rewards/recognition match the work contribution.  People tend to remain with companies where they are recognized for the work they do in proportion to the value of that work.  Recognition can come in a lot of different forms.  Nothing demoralizes people more when the rewards go to the wrong people or are disproportional to the contribution. Sometimes the rewards are a good salary, one that might make it difficult for you to consider moving to a new organization.

They have friends at work. The truth be told, if you have good dependable work friends, you are less likely to leave.  As much as I bitch about work, I have the distinction of working with some of the best people in the industry and that makes it far more tolerable.

They are comfortable with the work they do.  In this scenario, you know your job well and do it well.  Starting somewhere else will potentially change that.

Employees are recognized as experts in their field. Being at the top of your game in one organization does not necessarily transfer to another company should you move.  To your new colleagues, you are “the new person,” and you have to expend considerable time and effort to reestablish yourself.  It can be a daunting task that forces you to the easy choice – remain where you are.

Their manager doesn’t suck.  One of the top reasons people leave organizations is their manager is a dick/dickette.  You don’t need a stellar manager, just one that isn’t a micromanaging asshat.  There are those rare instances though where you get a manager who is solid, good, understands what motivates you and does those things, etc.  Going to another organization and you may be spinning the managerial roulette wheel and risking getting a complete and utter moron.

They can’t leave because of age, benefits, or life situation.  Anyone that believes there is no age discrimination in business is delusional.  Once you cross the threshold of 50 years of age, you are caught in a vice.  On one side, is the fact that companies won’t hire you because of your age.  On the other side is the concern that you might impact your pension, or change benefits that would be negative to your lifestyle.  What if you have workplace flexibility and can work for home X number of days a week?  Perhaps your new employer won’t support that – which necessitates a lifestyle change.  Employees are pinched to the point where you resist thoughts of changing jobs as a result of these factors.

They believe the organization does what it says it does. Companies claim they act and behave one way and often do quite the opposite.  That division between the public view and reality is often a contributing factor for employees the leave.  Counter to that, if your organization behaves in a manner consistent with what it says it is in business for, you tend to want to continue to be a part of that company.

Fear of not fitting in at a new company.  I liken this to “the devil you know vs. the one you don’t.”  I saw a job posting on Linkedin the other day and it immediately told me I would not fit in at their organization.  The images the company had on their ad and web site showed only people in their mid-20’s, dressed very casual, and a wide diversity – to the point where an older white male would significantly stand out in their company.  If those images realistically represented that company, I would never apply there because I know I won’t fit in. That sentiment is not that rare with people.  Every organization is like a country – it has its own culture, traditions, language, etc.  The fear of not being able to adapt to these is often enough to compel an employee to stay.

They harbor the illusion of advancement.  The classic carrot that management dangles before us at one point or another, “We are looking at you in terms of a possible promotion.”  This ever-elusive enticement is often just enough to compel people to remain in their job.  “If I can put in one more year, maybe this year I will get that job.”

Immunity to the hypocrisy/chaos.  There is a lot of bullshit that goes on in offices – reorgs, layoffs, outsourcing, etc.  If you get caught up in that chaos, it helps motivate you to look for employment elsewhere.  Likewise if you can tune out all of these threatening distractions and focus on what you love about your job, you are often more willing to remain.

Management leaves them alone. Sometimes flying under the radar makes your life easier.  If you are not motivated by advancement, just keeping your head down is an option.  Other times management just does the right thing, and lets people do their jobs with minimal interference. This behavior can foster a sense of loyalty. For many people, the fact that their management is not interfering permits them a chance to shine.

Obviously, if you like more of my mindless ramblings, you can check out my book, Business Rules: A Cynic’s Guide to the Corporate Overlords…or my other blog posts under business.

dwight4

Funny Employee Awards

Office humor
I should have added an award for passive aggressive note writer…damn it! 

Offices really need their own version of the Emmy’s, Golden Globes, or the Academy Awards.  Sure, leadership could hand out spot bonuses, but it is much cheaper and fun to provide awards to your leaders, team-members, and minions.  In an effort to lighten everyone’s mood at work, (especially this week, which is in need of some laughs,) I present to you my generic list of funny office awards. Enjoy and share!

Most Likely to Steal Office Supplies Even if They Don’t Need Them Award – given to the man or woman that pilfers office supplies as some sort of mental escape.  I am the proud winner of this three years running. I also have 11 pairs of scissors and six staplers if anyone wants them.

The Tunneling Out Award – provided to the employee spending the most time updating their Linkedin status in hopes of being recruited award. Ironically this person spends most of their working day trying to work somewhere else.

The White Rabbit Award – for the individual that shows up chronically late for every single damn meeting, even the ones they organize and ask for.

Person Most Likely to be Found Watching YouTube and Claiming it was “Self-Paced Training” – Given to that individual who watches movie trailers all day long.

The Deflector – Awarded to the person that takes their work and assigns it to others most effectively and consistently.

Mr. or Ms. Non-Committal – given to the “leader” that refuses to make a decision, even on the most basic thing.  No matter how much evidence you provide, the winner of this award will not land on a decision.

The Center of the Universe Award – It’s always all about them. Just ask them.

The Paper, Scissors, Rock Award – Given to the individual that makes arbitrary decisions based on sketchy criteria, just to move things forward.

The Useless Skills Trophy – Presented to the individual whose skill set has nothing to do with anything remotely related to work.  Planning an office retirement party is not the same as project management – trust me.

The Mouthpiece Award – Given to the person most likely to spread a rumor just for the fun of it.  (I am a three time winner of this myself)

Most Likely to Secretly Love the Annual Budgeting Process Award – Not much can be said here; this person has deep psychological issues.  Their punishment isn’t getting the award; it is liking budgeting.

The Stolen Valor Award – for the individual that consistently steals credit for other people’s hard work, claiming he did it, contributed to it, or led it.

Most Paranoid Employee Award – Provided to the individual that is positive that he/she is about to be the target of managerial abuse or a reduction in force.  It should be noted that this individual is often correct.

Most Likely to Use PowerPoint as a Primary Communications Tool – Presented to that person that cannot make a trip to the restroom without a 26 slide deck explaining their bowel movements (complete with graphs). Here’s a tip – Putting it in PowerPoint is not the same as actually communicating it.  Duh!

The Rebrander – Given to the manager that renames broken projects or products rather than fixes them.

The Terminator – Awarded to the manager that has fired of outsourced the most staff in the given year.  This is not something to be proud of.

Most Likely to Create a Spreadsheet to Try and Solve a Problem – Spreadsheets rarely solve problems, they do however, create the illusion of solving problems. This person has a spreadsheet tab set up for every contingency in their life.  So sad…

Buzzwordaholic – This honored person embraces anything new that can be described in a buzzword or phrase or, better yet, a catchy acronym.  It is their way of appearing well-informed and knowledgeable.  For the rest of us, well, we all know bullshit when we see it.

Most Likely to Spend More Time Explaining Why They Are Not Working Rather Than Getting The Work Done – A tad long worded, but that’s how this douchbag rolls.

Class Clown – For the individual that somehow takes every situation, no matter how dire, and manages to make it humorous, if only for a moment.

Hall Monitor – awarded to the individual that keeps track on when people come, go, and how long they spend in the bathroom. I knew one winner who kept a spreadsheet of this.

Most Likely to Throw a Co-Worker Under a Bus at the First Hint of Trouble – This person’s default setting when under pressure is to expose their peers to the underside of a bus transmission.

Points Whore – Awarded to the manager that arranges business trips just to harvest the frequent flyer and hotel points.

Sasquatch Award – Given to the employee that is almost impossible to find, even when they are in the office.

Head up the Ass Award – Bestowed to the employee that is so freaking oblivious that he/she is immune to the effects of reality.

Social Networker Award – This person sits in meetings and tweets and updates Facebook rather than paying attention.  Everyone in the office knows they are updating Facebook on company time, because they are guilty of it too.  This person just doesn’t even try to cover it up or lie about it.

Tragically Happy or the Most Medicated Award – given to the person in the office that, no matter what, has a sickening Joker-like smile on their face.  Even when faced with utter disaster and doom, this person has that dopy smile on their face.

The Office Squealer – Given to the office snitch, the person that will sell out their beloved co-workers in hopes it will advance their own career.

Where Angels Fear to Tread Award – Bestowed to the individual that has taken the biggest risk, regardless of the damage it could have caused to their career.

The Office Cheerleader – Awarded to the person who has consumed the Kool-Aid and believes every little lie that leadership tells him or her.  They sing praises to the almighty company and all who sail her.

The Closet Hero Award – Given to the person who has saved the day but never got formal acknowledgement for their sacrifice.

The Lemming Award – This team award is given to group that goes along with the crowd and does something insipidly stupid because they refused to think on their own.  (Note:  There’s usually a lot of competition for this award).

Most Offensive Smelling Lunch Eaten at a Desk Award – There’s always someone trying to reheat something that reeks as if it was taken off a garbage scow.  The complete lack of awareness or concern for the nostrils of their co-workers puts them in heated contention for this award.

The Inappropriate Attire Award – This is a fairly broad category that can cover everything from hooker-wear to Roy who showed up for a live meeting in a Speedo. As long as there have been groups of people working together, there have been people who didn’t dress appropriately for it.

The Rules Nazi – Awarded to the employee that quotes and lives by the rules, regardless if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Artful Dodger(s) – Presented to the individual or team that meets regularly, creates impressive PowerPoint decks, but accomplishes nothing (other than misleading management that they are progressing with their work.)  You know who you are…

Able to Turn Any Day into a Monday Award – This Debbie Downer is the person who sucks the life out of room and always goes to the worse-case scenario in their thinking.  Even when bonuses are handed out, they point out how much taxes take away.

Tin Cans and String Award – Given to the employee whose internet connection for meetings is so horrible that they are usually unable to hear or speak, yet are still allowed to work from home.

Eternal Keeper of the Stupid Employee Motivational Poster Award – There are always a handful of employees that believe that a catchy saying on a colorful poster inspired others.  This award is designed to remind them that we all secretly mock them behind their backs.

The Al Haig Award – Given to the person that assumes authority and power they simply do not have.  (It’s a historical reference, look up Alexander Haig after President Regan was shot…oh, never mind…)

Most Likely to Lick the Boss’s Boots in Order to Advance His/Her Career Certificate – Given to that spineless, selfish, blatantly kiss-ass employee that openly adores the boss to the point of making his or her coworkers vomit.

Ignorance is Bliss Award – Given to that person that ignores the obvious and when confronted with facts, turns tail and runs.  This person believes the best way to survive in the workplace it to not know or acknowledge what is going on.

Vastly Overqualified – Just Ask Them – Award – It is difficult to talk to this person because their head will not fit in most standard sized conference rooms.  They are SO smart and love telling everyone about how ingenious they are.  Oh my God, I wish I was as intelligent and insightful as they think they are.

Terminally Downtrodden – Given to the employee whose hopes have been squashed so many times they are a mere rifle perch away from extracting revenge on their co-workers and management.  Despite their ill treatment, they refuse to leave.

Looking for a Reason to be Offended Award – Given to the employee that believes they are being oppressed because they are part of an affinity group.  They believe they are being singled out for abuse.  In reality they are being oppressed just like the rest of the staff.

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Award – Given to the person most likely to lead a party of his or her coworkers to the bar after work to attempt to purge/drown their memories of the day.

The Sports Analogy Award – There’s always a weenie that thinks the best way to make people understand or get behind something is with a sports analogy. While this never works, there’s always someone who thinks they are in the movie Rudy and that some sort of sports reference is something everyone can get behind.

Couldn’t Find Their Ass with a Flashlight and Both Hands Award – Bestowed upon that individual who is so hopelessly clueless that they don’t understand that this award is not an honor.

Idiotic Saying or Metaphor Award – Given to the person that says things like, “When one door closes, another one opens,” These little catch-phrases are aimed to inspire, but miss their mark because, well, they are idiotic.  When a door closes, it just closes.

Running Out the Clock Award – Presented to that employee that is around 18 months away from retirement, who is doing everything he/she can to keep their head down and stay off of leadership’s radar.

The Teflon Trophy – Given to that individual who commits the equivalent of a war crime at work, but comes through it with their reputation perfectly intact.  (I hate that guy…)

Planny-Plan-Plan Award – Given to that one leader that insists on detailed plans for everything while, at the same time, never actually executes those plans.  Note:  This can be awarded to a project team that becomes so mired in their planning that they cannot actually move to the implementation phases of anything.

In It for the Stale Bagel (aka The Buzzard Award) – Bestowed to that individual who comes to work solely to mooch the leftover/abandoned food outside of conference rooms.  “Hey, this saves me $12 a week in breakfast alone!”

The Triumphant Flag Waver Trophy – Presented to that manager that declares a project is over and runs up the flag to declare victory, despite the fact that only half of the work actually complete.

Clearly I have missed some…so what are yours?  Add them to the comments.

Humorous Mission Statements for the Real World

missionstatement

I find the entire concept of mission statements to be one of those wonderful and pointless expenditures of time that organizations yearn to waste.  Anything written by more than two people is often so generic, so nebulous, so vague – that it means nothing.  Many have the same basic terms – “innovation,” “quality,” “customer,” “value,” which makes them essentially meaningless.  Some organizations strive to cram so much crap into their mission statement that it comes across like the ramblings of that guy who is panhandling at the Metro stop.  Mission statements are the definition of corporate white noise.

In my career I have never met anyone that was “inspired” by a mission statement.  If mission statements didn’t exist at all, nothing would change.  At best, they serve as a signposts for the employees to mock every time the organization violates them. At worst they are rambling paragraphs of gibberish created by a managerial committee.  Yet despite this, most departments and organizations as a whole spend considerable time crafting these garbled and confusing sentences that would cause your high school English teacher to suffer a mild stroke.

As a sidebar, those mission statements that capitalize certain words are written by a particular inbred, so-called leaders that lack two functioning brain cells.

So, I took it upon myself to craft a few of my own, aimed at being funny. These are not tied to any organization, fictional or real, and any similarities with real companies are coincidental (and funny).  Some are for companies – while others can be applied to departments.  Share and enjoy.

  • Our team’s function is to make ourselves look important by slowing down the work you do in a demonstration of the pseudo-authority we possess.
  • We are an assembly of random teams and staff with nothing in common who exist but whose value is not fully understood or appreciated – even by our own leadership.
  • Our mission is to make everyone else look bad by pointing out their mistakes and flaws so that we look better.
  • Our team exists to do all of the shit-work that no one else is willing to do.
  • The primary focus of our team is to get our leader promoted to another position of quasi-importance so that we hopefully will get someone sane to take his/her place.
  • The mission of our team is to be an example that you should NOT emulate.
  • Our team’s primary function is to produce PowerPoint slides that numb the senses and dull human thought, yet are strikingly beautiful.
  • Our shit doesn’t stink.  Chances are yours does.  We intend to make money off of that.
  • Our DNA is coded so that the customer comes first, well, right after all of our petty internal stuff.  Trust me, the customer is right up there in the top five…maybe ten, things we are focused on.
  • Our mission statement is to make sure leadership believes we are valuable, indispensable, unable to be outsourced, and critical to the survival of the organization.  We are none of these things, but we are relying on leadership incompetence to fill that void.
  • We put our customers first, unless of course they have their heads up their asses – in which case we will look for an appropriate scapegoat to blame.
  • Our organization believes that a fool and their money are soon parted.
  • Our mission is to be an industry leader so we can spend our time and effort fending off and overreacting to our competition who is squarely set on taking us down.
  • We innovate, collaborate, create, vacillate, procrastinate, pontificate, deliberate, guesstimate, and under-deliver daily to our clientele.
  • We put the “W” in Qwality.
  • We recognize that our people are the core of what we do and how we interact with customers – so we aim to make them as miserable as humanly possible.
  • Our mission is to provide you with technological solutions created in a foreign country by people who have no idea what you need, delivered on obsolete platforms with marginal support.  Note: This replaces our former mission statement, ‘Leader in rebooting the world’s hard drives.”
  • If you want it fast and high quality, you clearly aren’t dealing with us.
  • (From a HR department)  We are all about talent, and ensuring that the talent does not have a case that will stand up in court or arbitration.
  • Usability and the end-user experience is what we say it is.
  • We recruit the very best people in the world to service our clients…and crush their souls.
  • Our mission is to be paid on time or sooner if possible.
  • (From an information security department).  Our mission is to remove the human factor from technology, and the technology from the humans.  It’s the only way to be really secure.
  • We suck less than our competitors and much less than our market peers/colleagues.
  • Our mission is to not execute a major fu*k up that can be traced back to our team.
  • Our organization is dedicated to finding anyone in our target market who is a moron in a financial decision making capacity and exploiting their lack of intelligence.
    It is the mission of our team to survive the chaos, carnage, and catastrophic bad planning that is prevalent in our organization.
  • We believe that people are our most important asset…and that beating people makes them tougher and stronger.  Crushing their souls makes them invincible.
  • We start with bad data and go downhill from there.
  • To inspire our junior staff to seek opportunities elsewhere.
  • We make our money the old fashioned way, leveraging the horrific mistakes and outright paranoia of our customers.
  • We strive to under-promise and over-deliver – which means you cannot trust any estimates we give you.
  • Our mission is to innovate by taking other people’s ideas and repackaging them as our own.
  • When you think about us, you should only think of the propaganda we have pushed into the market.
  • We believe in whatever social causes will help us generate new revenue.
  • Our goal is to be the name most recognized with the least screw-ups in our industry segment.
  • We are experts in claiming to be experts.
  • Our mission is to complete the mind-numbing tasks that no one else is willing to undertake under the guise of “consulting.”
  • To connect our customers to innovative thoughts that we have artfully lifted from our competition.
  • We exist to be underappreciated, misunderstood, devalued, and often abused.  And we do it with a SMILE.
  • To empower people to connect to other more idiotic people and share their silly little ideas.
  • To share ideas without barriers…well, those ideas that legal has signed off on.
  • Our mission is to accelerate customers buying the stuff we sell.
  • To organize the world’s information and pimp it to you with a copious amount of advertisement.
  • Improving the lives of the people of the world by pushing products they don’t need or don’t work.
  • Creating perceived value from the insignificant for over 100 years.
  • If there is any fault in the services we provide, we will make it right or kill the scapegoat as an example to the others.
  • Our mission is to facilitate the transfer of money from your accounts to our back pockets with a minimal amount of resistance and the maximum amount of inspiration.
  • Attract and retain the best talent for our customers – until they make too much, then their jobs are off to India.
  • Provide the highest level of service for the least amount of effort.
  • We are a stiff and strict company with a casual dress code that assists in recruiting.
  • Our organization is dedicated to the proposition that our customers are less intelligent than we are.
  • Our operating principles are centered on the concept that employees should do what they are told and no one will get hurt.
  • Our mission is to open new markets that have not heard about our reputation for failure yet.
  • You will never pin it on us.
  • We are so greedy, we would sell meth if we thought we could get away with it.
  • Our mission is to create buzzwords and catch-phrases that sound important, then sell services aimed at correcting those same buzzwords in our client’s organizations.
  • If we could sell our employees’ souls we would do so for a solid revenue stream.
  • Our team’s mission is to have the most glamorous PowerPoint decks within the company.
  • We will pummel you about the head until you understand.
  • We tap the best minds in the business to attack your solutions…so if there’s a problem, we have someone else to blame.
  • Our goal is to change the world…into something that we can make more money on.
  • Our mission is to devise creative and complex solutions to make up for lack of leadership.
  • We take potentially dangerous chemicals and parts of animals, combine them in ungodly ways to sell them to consumers as food.  (From the fast food industry).
  • Ignorance on the part of our customers and insatiable greed on our part make for a potent combination of products and services.

And the winner:

We are rigidly focused on the following EIGHT ideals:

  1. We will DOMINATE the market with repackaged ideas and concepts.
  2. We CARE about the planet and recycling in all of the literature we print.
  3. We SPONSOR things to make us seem like good people.
  4. We believe in DIVERSITY so long as it does not upset our current management structure.
  5. We put our CUSTOMER’S FIRST; at least that what we tell them.
  6. We bring the highest QUALITY products and services to the market and support them with third world class service.
  7. We believe PEOPLE ARE OUR GREATEST ASSET and also our biggest liability, hence the way we treat them.

You can always check out my book – Business Rules for more snarky office humor.

Snarky Interpretations of Real Life Job Descriptions

Office space 2
Answer – I am the standing floor champion on World of Tanks.  So I’ve got that going or me…

Linkedin is constantly sending me jobs that they believe I am interested in or qualified for.  I look because, well, everyone should always be looking.  At the same time I cannot help but wonder, does Linkedin know something that I don’t?  The paranoia is very real. 

As I read many of these, you see patterns – certain phrases that turn up over and over.  As a veteran of the Cubicle Wars, I also know pure bullshit when I see it in a job description.  So the following is snippets from actual Linkedin job descriptions and my own snarky/funny/grim interpretations of those.  Enjoy!

“Some travel is to be expected.”  A LOT of inconvenient travel is expected.  We are going to send you to luxurious locales such as Newark, New Jersey to do your job.  PS.  We will force you to take these trips with no notice.  You didn’t really want a life outside of work did you?

“Must be a proficient multi-tasker.”  We are going to bury your ass in pointless work and unreasonable deadlines.  Then we will complain when you don’t get 46 hours of work done in 8 hours’ time.

“Candidate must be a self-starter. ” We have no functional leadership.  Zip, zero, nada.  We are going to give you no direction whatsoever. We’re counting on you to know what needs to be done (until it comes time to critique it.)

“Must be deadline driven.”  We expect you to work 24 x 7.  Don’t plan on any days off.

“You will be expected to partner with our people.”  We will provide you with an out of date org chart and you must then fend for yourself.

“Looking for an aggressive go-getter.”  1.  A certain amount of douchbaggery is acceptable in our culture and expected with this position.  2.  We expect you to crush as lot of careers and dash a lot of hopes in accepting this position.

“Candidate must have a great deal of flexibility.”  We will be giving you conflicting orders, deadlines, and priorities.  Moreover you are not allowed to complain about it. Good luck!

“You must have experience working in a matrixed organization.”  You will have multiple managers with conflicting objectives, expectations, and timelines.

“Creative work environment.”  We make stuff up as we go.

“You must have an established track record in (fill in the blank).” We anticipate you racked up a body count at your current employer while meeting your goals and expect more of the same.

“Must have in-depth industry knowledge.”  The ability to bullshit and drop industry buzzwords and acronyms will serve as a substitute for actual expertise in this job.

“Applicant must be self-directed.”  1.  No one is going to give you direction, guidance, assistance, or help as you are thrown to the wolves.   2.  We have no time for your  petty little questions.  3.  Our “leaders” couldn’t organize a good bowel movement.

“Experience in a collaborative environment a must.”  Everyone here will want to weigh in and criticize your work.  “Do you really think an Ariel 14 point font is the best to convey your message?”

“Seeking an eager candidate.”  We are looking to hire someone in their 20’s.  Older applicants will be completely ignored.

“Demonstrable ability to resolve complex system or business issues…”  You won’t believe how screwed up we are.  Don’t get me started on how bad our clients are either!  That’s okay, we expect you to come in and fix years’ worth of fu*k ups.  No pressure eh?

“Must be comfortable with public speaking and facilitating group discussions with senior executives.”  We want you to go and meet with our leaders and explain to them what business we are in, who are customers are, and why their ideas are wrong.  Good luck with that.

“Ability to work in a dynamic environment a plus.”  We are in a constant state of reorganization.  You’ve been warned.  PS.  That person that is hiring you is on the chopping block but doesn’t know it yet.

“Experience Managing People.”  Experience managing contractors.

“Candidate must be comfortable with public speaking to senior leaders.”  You will be preparing a lot of PowerPoint slides and reading them to people who are far too busy to take the time to read them on their own.”

“Ability to handle multiple priorities.”  We are going to dump a shitload of work on you – all due on the same day.

“Experience working with global teams.”  You will be expected to take phone calls at 4am and 11pm with people you cannot understand.

“Applying research and analytical skills to support thought leadership…”  You are allowed to use Google and Wikipedia to look up buzzwords we don’t fully understand.

“Candidate must have public sector experience.”  You will be working for a beltway bandit as a pitiless contractor in the Federal Government…may God have mercy on your soul.

“Experience working with human capital…”  You will be expected to work with actual people face-to-face rather than work remotely from home.

“Structuring approaches to solving discrete problems…”  We are hiring someone to fix our existing and future fu*k-ups.

“Use effective communication expertise to solicit feedback…”  You are to be the customer’s whipping boy (or gal) for every mistake that was made by our company.

“Ability to train and coach diverse teams in relation to governance, processes and best practice.”  You will be inheriting a team of broken souls and crushed dreams and are expected to fix them, despite the abuse that has been inflicted on them by your predecessor.

“Proven experience identifying and analyzing problems with the ability to make recommendations for solving these challenges.”  We don’t want to hear about your little problems; just fix it.

“You will be working in a challenging, complex and highly demanding environment.”  You will be experiencing chaos and mayhem starting on day one and it will not get any better.

“Enthusiastic individual sought…”  We expect you to be happy no matter how bad the abuse is.

“Develop and review complex spreadsheets to analyze data and develop specific recommendations.”  Maybe you can make some sense out of this data…we sure can’t.

“Coordinate with other organizations/teams to accomplish goals.”  Your success is dependent on your peers, which means you are screwed.

“Research, develop, and execute industry business plans…”  This is our way of saying, “We have no idea what we are in business for or how to deliver to our customers.  We’re counting on you figuring that out for us.”

“The ability to communicate respectfully and with tact.”  No yelling in the office.  That’s what got the last person that held this job fired.  We’re still paying on that lawsuit.

“Executive presentation skills a must.”  You will be using PowerPoint a lot.  A LOT.  Since your audience is executive-level, much of your work will be taking complex things and turning them into confusing graphics that look well-thought out.

“Become a thought leader in __________” We are counting on you figuring out what we are hiring you to do.

“…forward thinking…”  We need at least one person in our organization that knows which way is up and you could be him/her!

“Assist proposal managers and capture managers in developing/maintaining and communicating storylines, schedules, plans, outlines, assignments, baselines, and storyboards to the team.”  YOU will be doing all of the work while the proposal and capture managers criticize it and claim credit for your efforts.

“Must have deep analytical skills.”  We have a lot of data but have no idea what it all means.  You will be expected to tell us what it means, so we can then question the data’s validity.

“Experience in working in, or leading, dynamic global teams.”  To make your position more challenging, all of the people you must work with are scattered across the planet.  Don’t plan on getting any sleep once you hire on.

“Candidate must possess exceptional written communications skills.”  As your manager, I see myself as a much better writer than you will ever be.  No matter how perfect your work, I intend to slow it down with an endless series of markups and revisions that will slowly drive you insane.  Welcome aboard!

“Must possess certification in/by  ____________”  We don’t care if you can do it, we just want to know that your former employer spent the time and money to send you to training to learn how to do it.

“Other duties as assigned.”  We are SO going to bury your ass in work.  You won’t be seeing daylight for months.

“Translate and synthesize information from SMEs into a message that targeted audiences can understand, while maintaining the technical accuracy and completeness of the intended response.”  You will be forced to meet with highly technical people who cannot communicate, so that you can suck out of them their knowledge and turn it into something that is understandable.  All the while the highly technical people will criticize what you do, as will those that receive your work product.

“Ability to perform with grace and efficiency under pressure.”  Don’t you dare bitch about the crappy way we are going to treat you or I swear we will make your life a living hell for punishment.

“A wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected in performing analytics duties…”  You will be expected to make shit up on the fly.

“Experience in process improvement.”  We are so messed up that we need a fresh set of eyes to tell us what to fix.   Of course we will be ignoring your input, but we still expect it.”

“Participate in business development efforts…”  You will be expected to take orders from the sales and marketing teams and support any of their lies or deceptions to the customer, regardless of how ridiculous they may be.

“Take charge of company performance…”  We need a fall guy for our horrible sales numbers – and you’re applying to be that guy!

“Enhance our Business Development Lifecycle…”  You are going to be in sales.

“Define and visualize business strategy.”  You will need to figure out what we should be doing, then put it on a single PowerPoint slide.

“Re-engineer processes to improve delivery.”  Your role will be to unfu*k all of the stuff your predecessor screwed up.

“Must possess a strong sense of urgency about solving problems.”  When things go wrong, and they will, we will be yelling at you to fix them.

The Triangle of Apathy

Triangle

I’m no expert in the workplace – I’m more of a victim.  That’s a lie – I am an expert, if only in my own mind.  I’ve even written books on it (Cubicle Warfare and Business Rules) I’ve noticed lately in speaking with people in a fairly wide range of organizations that they are growing apathetic towards their jobs and careers.

We all feel a twinge of apathy at work at one point or another.  It drains your productivity, but oddly enough, you don’t care.  You are demotivated to work harder, put in extra hours, to try and go above and beyond.  Everyone gets this feeling now and then – but it seems more prevalent lately.

I would offer you solutions, but tonight I prefer to whine about apathy rather than solve it (a symptom of my own malaise at work.)  Over the years I have learned that people digest business concepts best if they have a stupid, yet simple, graphic tied to them.  Thus I present the Triangle of Apathy (™ pending)!

So what makes people indifferent about their job or their alleged contribution at work?  Three things make up the triangle:

  • Managers that don’t or cannot lead
  • Inability to navigate your career
  • Uninspiring or no vision

Managers that don’t or cannot lead.  Let’s face it, many organizations don’t promote well.  People rise to management levels not based on their ability to lead or motivate a team, but on some technical skill.   The assumption that everyone can simply “pickup” a core management competency on-the-fly is a drunken fallacy.  Some managers couldn’t organize a good bowel movement, let alone lead a team.  We’ve all seen it.  This drives apathy because part of a suite of managerial acumen is being able to guide employees through change.  When that doesn’t exist, it provides a firm foundation for employee apathy.  “I turned to my manager for help and all she said was that she didn’t know what was going on either…’welcome to the club.'”  Spineless, uninspired, demotivated, or outright incompetent leaders disenfranchise their staff and spread apathy like a plague during the Renaissance.  (On top of a nifty graphic, you are going to get lots of pointless metaphors in this post as well – no extra charge.)

Inability to navigate your career.  I don’t really subscribe to the idea that you have a career – only a job…but that’s a different blog post. https://blainepardoe.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/a-critique-about-careers/  Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument you believe you do have a career, you delusional bastard.  Your organization probably feeds you this line, “You own your own career.”  Do you?  Really?  You see inconsistent promotions – where people are advanced because of favoritism rather than competency.  Your own job is threatened constantly with reorganizations and outsourcing to the point where all you do is worry if your head is going to be on the chopping block next.  Nepotism or cronyism are the drugs of choice when new exciting roles are created in your organization.  You see no path forward other than to do what you are doing to the best of your ability and pray that is enough.  These factors blend into a toxic, debilitating slushie of indifference, sluggish motivation, and organizational lethargy.

Uninspiring or no vision.  Tip for leaders here.  Just because you think you have a vision and articulated it; that doesn’t mean it actually IS inspiring or understood.  Even if you have communicated it, chance are your team has not personalized it.  People want to know what is in it for them.  They want to know what they will be doing or doing differently.  They want to know how success of the vision will be measured.  Generally, people want to be excited, but that means understanding them.  Many managers lack that connection and are blissfully unaware they lack a clue about their people’s motivations.

In some cases there is a vision – but it is so dull that it fails to shake the apathy of the staff.  Of course the worse scenario is when there simply is no vision for an organization.  Instinctively people have a need to comprehend that their contributions matter to something larger. If you deny them this, apathy sets up like concrete on a summer day.

So how do you overcome all of this?  Simply put, don’t rely on your organization to be the source of your personal motivation.  This is all on you.  Let’s face it, you are the one person you can actually rely on most of the time.  If that isn’t enough, build a network of your blasé co-workers and try to come up with ways to encourage each other.  Don’t rely on the leadership that got you into this dull mood to correct it, take matters in your own hands.  Whining does feel good, but only for a few minutes.  After that it is just draining.  Be supportive of your close co-workers, the ones that are not contemplating workplace shootings. Get together once a week to share news of what work you’re doing, where the obstacles are, and how you can assist each other.

Crap – I guess you do own this part of your career. Go figure.   I’d go correct it above but I would have to scroll all of the way up, and I’m still pretty unmotivated.

Workplace Humor – Things Never Heard in the Office

The Office

I feel the need for a little blast of office humor.  Here’s my list of things that have never been said in the workplace.  Enjoy!

I love it when you microwave leftover fish in the kitchenette.  The smell is divine!

Oh boy, a PowerPoint presentation!  I haven’t seen one of those in a while.

I get to have lunch every day.

After hours meetings are my favorite.

You don’t have to tell me what my raise is this year – I like surprises.

I really respect how you ignored my previously scheduled meetings and put yours out right on top of other people who can use Outlook correctly and were courteous.

My favorite part is when you read your PowerPoint slides to me because I can’t read.

There was no traffic when I came in today.

I love it when you send me material at 11:30pm and expect me to respond in a half an hour.

There’s no way we are going to blame the vendor for this mess.

My headcount/staff additions have all been approved.

I would bet my life on the technologies we use here at work.

My career is right on track.

I love the way you give developmental feedback.  It’s SO useful.

My two favorite times of the year are annual performance reviews and goal setting.

Information Security is VERY flexible.

I don’t mind changing that thing we agreed to eight months ago, now that we’re two days before launch.

I sure hope this web based learning has a comprehensive test at the end of it.

We will never have layoffs in this organization.

Your idea is much better than mine.

It’s a good thing we have highly competent leadership to get us through this.

You’ll have plenty of time built into the schedule.

Skype is my favorite consistent tool for having meetings.

Nothing motivates me more than having someone threaten my job.

Thank goodness for the dress code.

No, I don’t mind if this meeting runs over a half an hour or so…I wasn’t doing anything after this anyone.

I’m completely in the loop.

I love business travel…it never interferes with my private life.

No, 5:00am isn’t too early for me to meet.

I’ll buy my own office supplies.

I think all of the smokers huddled near the entrance is cute.

I wish the company would make me install more apps on my personal smart phone.

Our telephone technical support is awesome.

You can’t possibly over-document a process.

No, 192 slides in your presentation is not too many.

I have all of the information I need to get this done on time.

Pivot tables are fun on a bun.

I love it when you use Excel as a word processor.

We have too many vacation and holidays here.

Wow are you being flexible!

I was hoping you’d ask me to donate to your favorite charity/cause/event.

I could fly business class, but I thought it best to save the company money, so I opted for coach.

Strategic alliances always work out for the best.

My PC is too fast.  Can I get an older, slower model?

I wish I had the same carpet we have in the office at home.  It’s SO plush and hides stains well…

No one on our team is stressed.

I appreciate the offer of promotion, but I think it’s a little premature in my career, don’t you?

Wow look at all of the white board markers in this conference room.  And they all are new!

Oh boy, the annual budgeting process is starting!

I find that the wingdings font helps make things much clearer.

It is helpful that you have dived into the weeds.

I love that new acronym.  It makes my understanding complete.

I missed what you said because I was updating Facebook.

Do I have to take a holiday off?

I work best when I am given an unreasonable deadline and no resources to meet it.

I love it when company leadership adjusts our pension plan.

I am glad they give us so much time to attend training.

PowerPoint solves everything.

Moving the timeline up won’t cause any problems.  We can do it sooner with no issues.

I wish we could eat in the cafeteria after hours…it’s my favorite restaurant.

I cherish the moments I spend waiting for technical support to figure out who I am.

I could sure use more spam in my inbox.

I was thinking that this might be a good time to panic.

Oh boy…I get to change my password this afternoon!

You can just ignore the agenda.

Threatening my job inspires me to do better.

Could you micromanage me some more?  I find it helpful.

I want to take the time to read the entire document before asking any questions.

I can’t wait for the next reorganization.

If you stopped paying me, I would still come in and do the work.  This place is that awesome.

I wish they would move employee parking further away from the office.

Snowstorm days are my favorite days to come into the office.

I think I’m grossly overpaid for what I do.

We always accomplish a lot during lunch meetings.

Thank goodness you involved me early on this project.

This place would make an awesome movie.

Our bathrooms here are spotless.

I want to transfer to the mail room.

I have too much respect for our IT Department.  I brag to my friends about how great ours is.

I don’t mind that you interrupted me…your words are more important than mine.

Our company spends too much time worrying about the impact of decisions on the staff.

I’ve never had an issue getting my expenses reimbursed.

Open floorplans and shared workspace really boost productivity (and provide all the privacy I need).

You guys go home…I want to stay late and work on this.

It’s very convenient to work with people in other time zones.

You’re being way too flexible.  I work best with a lot of structure.

I attend these meetings because the lunch they provide is so tasty.

The best time of the day is the two hours I spend going each way to and from work.  It’s “me” time.

Raising your voice makes me believe you are more correct.

The problem is that the company communicates meaningful and useful information to us too often.

Our customers are far too patient.

Your kid is selling something at school?  Put me down for four of whatever it is.

Your PowerPoint presentation thrilled, motivated, and inspired me.

We need more rules to govern us.

This isn’t just a job, it is a career.

I’m going to take some personal time this afternoon to clean the kitchenette area and do the dishes there.

I want to hear more about how you are going to fix all of the problems in our department…after being here two weeks.

You have a good grasp of the big picture.

Could you use more technical phrases when you explain it to me?

Six point font is totally readable.

They would never lay me off or outsource my job.  I’m invaluable.

Nothing says lovin’ like mandatory learning!

Can everyone on the call stay off of mute? Feel free to put this conference call on hold if we are boring you.

I love it when your dog barks in the background.

Go ahead and finish your text message, what I was saying wasn’t important anyway.

That doctor/dentist’s appointment can wait.  I need to finish this spreadsheet.

SAP is pretty intuitive to implement.

I’d love to do a group photo for the company’s web page (or SharePoint site).

When I work at home I wear the same things as when I’m in the office.

Video calls are a blast.

Gosh darn it, my inbox is empty.

You can skip my raise this year.  Working here is reward enough for me.

Boy does the refrigerator in the kitchenette smell and look clean!

I hope we get to do a mandatory, after-hours team building event!

Don’t worry about the budget.  We trust you.

I like being triple-booked for meetings.  It means I’m popular.

Town hall meetings are a productive use of my time.

This is exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated college.

How early can I get into the office to start work?

The greatest joy I have in the week is filling out my timesheet.

Can you put me on a failing project?  I want a real challenge.

Can I have a copy of that poster in the breakroom?  I’d like to hang it up in my apartment.

Linkedin has improved my career measurably.

Your happiness is what motivates me.

That data analysis you prepared was dreamy.

It’s not a problem you showed up late for the meeting.  We looked forward to catching you up.

The new hires we get from colleges really fit into our culture well.

I’m comfortable with you being smarter than me.

Whatever you do, don’t prioritize my work.

Please, withhold more information that I need to do my job.

I wish I had the stamina to work longer days.

I am sure our leadership has considered all points of view.

Of course I’m comfortable with taking a demotion.  All that matters is that I get to work here with you.

One of the reasons I stay here are the great chachkis I have accumulated over the years…especially stress balls.

Open enrollment is fun.

I’d much rather take web-based learning rather than go to Vegas to attend a seminar.

The company spared no expense on the toilet paper they purchased.

Aw rats, it’s 5:00pm!  I have to leave work.

Free leftover cookies from the meeting?  No, I’d much rather pay for them.

I’m ignoring that fire alarm…work is more important.

Who farted in here?  Whew!

I live for the random changes in direction.

No, I’m not interested in your latest rumor that could impact my career.

No thanks, coffee makes me too nervous.

I don’t mind being called “Bloodsucking Overhead” in the least.

Our corporate logo brings me joy.

Go ahead and go over your allotted time.  Your incoherent rambling is far more important than the other speakers.

No, I don’t need a bio-break.  We’ve only been in the meeting non-stop for five hours.

You don’t need to spell it.  Ackaraspapu is a pretty common name.

We’ve had so much fun on this project, let’s get together tonight after hours and hang out.

Please keep your smart phone out.  Feel free to do texts during the meeting. I know you’re paying attention.

My favorite part is when you talked down to me.

I’ll use the broken chair.

I don’t think the profitability matters.

I DO care about your petty little opinion – very much so.

Usually one has to go to a McDonalds or Taco Bell to find someone of your management stature.

I’m sorry, can you repeat that?  I wasn’t paying attention because your presentation was so incredibly boring.

I was hoping I might be able to lay some of my people off.

All of the awards our company wins really makes me feel positive about how things are going.

Someone wrote ‘Don’t erase” on the whiteboard.  I’m sure that was just a joke.

Yes, a mandatory after hours dinner sounds like a lot of fun. I often fantasize about eating with m co-workers.

Isn’t that the same outfit you wore yesterday?

We don’t need to worry about backing up our data – hard drives hardly ever fail.

Mentioning your rank in our discussion impressed me.

I don’t mind you canceling the meeting I prepared for at the last possible moment.  My time has little value.

There’s no need for us to meet, I read all of the material you sent in advance.

I was going to have a meeting, but sent an email instead.

The time you spent busting my balls was very helpful and will resolve all of the problems you were complaining about.

I’m going to update my passwords now, before I get those useful and courteous reminder messages.

I feel safe and secure because our building security folks are top notch experts in their field.  They are practically ninjas.

I think the best time for us to get the team together to work through this is after hours on Friday.

Your inability to follow an agenda is respectful of everyone on the call.

No, my significant other doesn’t mind at all if we cancel our personal plans so I can attend this meeting.

You are correctly using the word, “crisis” to describe this situation.

We could get more done if you weren’t a maniacal egotistical douchebag.

Being on a technology pilot is how I define a good time.

This place can’t function without you and your keen insights and swift decision making.

What will solve this problem is a good graphic image.

I don’t mind moving my personal vacation plans to accommodate your pseudo-crisis.  It would be my pleasure.

I love our password policy.  Keeping the same password for more than two weeks is boring.

I think it’s great you joined the call late.  It reminds us all of how important you are.

I can’t believe your former employer let you go.  You’re a keeper!

Because it worked at your last company I’m sure it will work here too.

Our organizational chart is sleek.

I LIVE to take another company survey because they always take swift, positive and noticeable action based on the results.

I can hear you too clearly on Skype.

By all means, tell me how to do my job more efficiently

I would never say that about you to your face.

I don’t mind not getting lunch all week so that I can work.

I’m checking my emails on vacation because I want to.

I don’t need to write my name on my lunch…my coworkers would never steal it.

My bonus was too large.

You have a bizarre definition of the word, “Winning.”

No, we’re not top-heavy with senior management.

I don’t know how this organization functioned without your brilliant leadership.

I’ve found outsourcing the work improves the quality, speed, and saves money almost every time.

I like the way you panic.

Don’t worry about what charge code to use.

I have saved every one of the t-shirts I’ve ever received from the company.

Renaming a project/product always solves all of its problems.

When I’m on a business trip I always eat at the cheapest place I can find.

My spreadsheet printed right the first time.

I believe filling out a status report every week is some of my most productive time I spend at work.

I get depressed when my manager calls in sick or goes on vacation.

I can’t talk now, the new issue of the company newsletter just arrived in my inbox and I can’t wait to read it.

I’m eligible to retire but I think I’ll stay on because I love working here so much.

Look – someone left me extra office supplies on my desk.

If we had more senior leaders working on this issue we’d solve it faster.

Enjoy my little snarky attempt at humor?  Check out my book: Business Rules

Annual Performance Reviews – A Snarky Fix to an Age-Old Problem

Dwight
Over-preparing for an annual review…

Note: None of this is related to my current employer where everything is sunshine, roses, rainbows, Prozac, and unicorns.   I’m just offering perspective about organizations as a whole and my disdain for annual performance reviews in general.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

To say I loathe the annual performance review process used by most organizations would be a gross understatement.  Personally, I don’t like to talk about my career choices or reflect on my last year, even if that year was outstanding. My “career” (and I use that word loosely) is my business.  I have an Evil Plan and I’m not inclined to share it. Last year I critiqued the infamous bell curve The Dreaded Performance Review Season

Reviews have a sense of hopelessness about them.  They force you to take stock of the last 12 months and to obtain feedback on the last four weeks (which is usually the basis of the core of your rating).  In some organizations reviews are a burdensome administrative task that can fail to accomplish the intended goal of improving performance.  Instead they become exercises in statistic mathematics (fitting people to a bell curve) and focusing on the three things that an employee did wrong in a year, rather than the 300 things they did well.  I have yet to emerge from a review energized, inspired, and enthusiastic – and I get good ratings over the years.

Office2

So I started thinking about ways to make the process go by faster.  (Hey, if it can’t be motivating, at least we can get it over with – right?)  I thought a multiple choice/survey format that the employee could check off would expedite things in the discussion.  Now, I’m still tweaking this prototype – but I thought you’d enjoy my current working copy.  Feel free to share.

 

Annual Review Multiple Choice

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

___Prison – for that whole, “Lone sniper on the roof of his place of employment” incident I’ve been covertly planning.

___Getting my hands on some fissionable material to finish a DYI project I have going in my basement.

___Wearing a “special” white coat with long sleeves that lace together in the back.

___Kicking back and retired on the income from my Nigerian Prince scam.

___Still waiting for Skype to connect my call from earlier today.

___Waiting in line for Star Wars XVI – The Last Sith

___Still searching for my long lost marbles.

___Trying to explain to my family why I wasn’t with them because I needed this job to pay the damned bills.

___In a shack in the forest, writing that manifesto I have been meaning to get to.

___In line at CVS to up my antidepressants.

___I see myself in a room, doing an annual review, making up another bullshit answer so that I can end this ordeal.

 

What are your career goals?

___Making sure someone else is framed for the crime or at least the guilty parties are identified.

___I’d like to be CEO.  Can you help make that happen?  If not, leave me alone.

___I’d settle for some cheesy title if you can’t actually promote me.  I’m quite fond of the title “Emperor” but you can call me ‘Sire.”

___To make the voices in my head go away or at least get down to a reasonable number.

___Four words:  Hand of the King.

___What is this “career” thing you are referring to?

___I am counting on the lottery or getting my own reality TV series about a guy working in a dysfunctional office.

___I don’t suppose “survival” is an option?  If so, I choose it.

 

How well do you work with your peers/colleagues?

___The fact they are still alive should tell you something.

___I like them.  When we are on a call together they make me look like the smartest person in the meeting.

___I strongly believe at least one of them will be featured on the news with one of their neighbors saying, “He was quiet – a loner…he seemed normal to me.”

___They are the best trained group of clowns to ever emerge from the same tiny car.

___Most seem stressed – but then again, underachievers usually are.

___Without them you wouldn’t need me.  (Think about it – you’ll eventually get it)

___I think enough of them to secretly post their resume’s on several leading job recruitment sites.

 

What do you think of your teammates?

___You will never meet a finer group of team members – outside of a prison basketball court.

___Great group of people…the kind you of team you see in Goodfellas or The Godfather.

___They can be counted on – for lunch and for making most of my meetings pointless.

___We are unified and cohesive on one thing, a common enemy, our manager. Oops!  Awkward…

___They can be consistently relied upon, to shuffle their workload to me.

___You will not meet a finer group of people outside of a chain gang.

___What I think my teammates says less about them and more about you and your interviewing standards and approaches.

___I hope at least two of them marry Cersi Lannister.

 

What kind of experiences can we give you to help your stretch and advance your career aspirations?

___Put my on a project that was not hopelessly doomed, horribly sponsored, technically impossible, or led by an escaped lunatic.

___How about putting me in charge of the whole shooting match?  I figure it will take three weeks…four tops, to straighten this all out.

___Please stop trying to help me by giving me more work.  If you stretch me more, I may snap.

___Something that is near completion, competently run, that I can claim credit for “leading.”

___I’ve been working with all of the responsibility and none of the power – how about we flip that for next year?

___Preferably something that requires travel to Hawaii, Europe, of Polynesia.

___I have been a patient in this asylum long enough, I’d like to be a guard for a while.

___None.  I just watch you as my manager and mentally note to do the opposite of what you do.

 

How do you feel about the feedback you received this year from your peers?

___I got feedback?  I thought we were still on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?”

___Apparently the bribe money was well spent.

___I’m sorry, we were supposed to read that before the review session?  I assure you I give that feedback all of the attention it is due.

___It is good to know that the people that gave me feedback are taking medication and drinking still.

___Those negative comments are totally deserved.  I was being a dick and want to assure you I will be a dick again in the future.

___There would have been more positive feedback if the system had allowed people to submit what they wrote in crayon.

___My response to the feedback begins with, “Those assholes started it!”  It goes downhill from there.

___I think the constructive (negative) feedback I received was because those people couldn’t find their ass with a flashlight and both hands.

___I am ashamed that these people who gave me feedback have that kind of time on their hands.  Makes you wonder about them, doesn’t it?

 

What kind of learning should we put in your annual plan?

___I was thinking of taking the Web Based Learning course, “Giving a damn – you can do it!”

___I don’t suppose I can convince you that basket-weaving is related to my job?

___Why bother, you will never give me the time to attend the course anyway?

___I believe a course in advanced cursing would be in order.

___I’ve tracked down an industry tradeshow for a week in Vegas.  Send me and I promise to make an effort to attend one of the sessions.

___Using Advanced PowerPoint Techniques, Graphics and Animations to Bedazzle Leaders 101

___Is there anything we have on substance abuse – a “how-to” kind of class?

___Really?  You’re going to give me the time to go to learning or the money to travel to it?  Don’t make me laugh.

___I don’t know – what did you take to get your job?  I’m sure only a short course will suffice to fill that gap.

 

What could you have done to have been more successful last year?

___”More successful?”  It sounds like you aren’t thankful for what you got there buddy.  You might want to work on that.

___Less leadership “support” and more common sense would have helped.

___While a bonus will not make me more successful, it can’t hurt matters.

___Suppressed my sense of humor and my snarky remarks during meetings.

___How about the ability to pick and choose the work I am assigned?

___I could have constructed a functional time machine to reverse your bad decisions.

___I have everything I need to be successful, at another company.  Thanks.

 

What can I do to make your job easier?

___Nothing.  Just keep those checks coming.

___Please, sweet Jesus, stop trying to help me.

___A limit of three random/psychotic changes of direction per month would be great.

___Tequila!

___Have you considered an extended vacation or taking a sabbatical? I recommend it.

___I have a list of people who need to “disappear,” if you catch my drift.  (Wink, wink)

___You can stop assigning me the workload of three full time staff.

___Before you make up deadlines, could you please purchase a calendar?

___Please have your boss remove their head from their ass.

 

What kind of feedback to you have for me as your manager?

___Keep on going – oblivious seems to work for you as well as me.

___I am impressed with you – well, that you find the office daily.  That I’m impressed with.

___What you don’t know won’t hurt you.

___Whatever you do, don’t look in the box under my desk.

___It’s adorable that you pretend to care.

___I don’t supposed you’d be willing to take a job with our competitors?

___You are PURE.  A Previously Undetected Recruiting Error.

___You don’t have stress but you ARE a carrier.

___I’m sorry, do I work for you?

___Like you care…

 

I think my multiple-choice approach streamlines the process – don’t you agree?

Hey, I wrote a pretty good book on cynicism at the office – Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords  It is chocked full of bitterness about work…and extra vitamin goodness.

Office Humor: If IT People Wrote Recipes

I was working on a quick reference card for a new IT project and had an exchange with a colleague on the level of instruction needed.  Me – I like to believe end-users have some basic awareness of technology.  We don’t live in 1994 any longer.  I have confidence in our end-users.  Far too often, IT operations concentrate on not generating help desk calls as opposed to writing things that are basically end user friendly.  This person disagreed (incorrectly) with my thinking.  I used a metaphor of a baking a cake and he seemed to understand my perspective – and hence, this spoof was born.

I pick on IT departments because I work in one.  This is not generally reflective of the company I currently work in – I’ve heard this complaint from a lot of end-users in the Federal Government and private sectors.  Time has come for those of us in the industry to remember that we need to prepare our documentation for the end-users, not in spite of them.

So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I give you: If IT people wrote recipes

Baking a Chocolate Cake – A simple four step process

Before you begin this baking process:  Make sure you have all of the ingredients and that they are still fresh.  Please check all expiration dates.  Also you need to confirm your oven is in good working order (you can use self-help to troubleshoot any hardware issues you may have.)  Reminder:  Ovens of any type are unsupported hardware and repaired only on a best-effort basis.  You will also need to know the altitude that you are cooking at and refer to Quick Reference Guide #427 – Baking Temperatures Conversions Card by Altitude).   Please note that the Help Desk cannot determine your altitude above sea-level – that is your own responsibility.

All utensils and bowls must be clean prior to starting the Mixing Process.  IMPORTANT:  If you have lactose or gluten allergies please check with the help desk before you initiate this recipe to obtain a list of approved substitutes.

Further, the company is not held responsible for any cross-contamination that may occur as a result of improperly cleaned utensils.  Please refer to the self-help portal for proper utensil cleaning processes.  Should you have any allergic reactions, please do not contact local office support – but contact your own personal health care provider.  Note: Support staff do not stock EpiPens, these are personal expense health-care items subject to Company Policy 34-556-HC for reimbursement.

The process flow:

Baking a cake follows this basic flow (Diagram 1A):

cake-flow

Step 1

Refer to the table below for the items necessary to complete the baking (and decorating) of a cake.

 

Table A – Required Ingredients

Item Unit of Measurement or Notes: Software Hardware
Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate 10 ounces (used for both the cake and for the optional frosting) X
Miracle Whip Dressing 1.5 cups X
Packed brown sugar 2.25 cups X
Vanilla (liquid form – not a bean itself) 1 Tablespoon X
Eggs (Grade A), Source: Chicken (Hen) 3 individual eggs, classified as Grade A, un-cracked, white. X
Baking Soda (Processed sodium bicarbonate) 1.5 Teaspoons X
Salt (Processed sodium chloride) .25 Teaspoons X
Powdered Sugar 3 cups X
Water (boiling – i.e. elevated to the temperature of 100 °C or 212 °F for a sustained period of time) 1 cup X
One conventional non-convection or microwave oven Note:  May be electric or gas powered.  If you are unsure as to the source of heat please refer to the Oven Operations Manual provided by the manufacturer X
A bowls or other sturdy watertight container Two bowls are required.  Three-quarters or more capacity for the entire suite of ingredients above.  Note:  Mixing bowls do not have to be identical (i.e. the same hardware configuration or color pattern.) X
Measuring utensil 1 cup capacity X
Measuring utensil .5 cup capacity X
Measuring utensil .25 cup capacity X
Measuring utensil A teaspoon X
Measuring utensil A tablespoon X
Measuring utensil A whisk or other approved mixing utensil X
Measuring utensil .666 cup capacity X
Apron (for safety) Size varies to the size of the user.  Please exercise caution when selecting the appropriate apron. X
Metallic Cake pans Two – Nine inches in diameter X
Non-flammable Oven mitts Two.  Note: These are not to be confused with flammable oven mitts which are not recommended for this procedure. X
Two toothpicks One is required, the second toothpick is a packup.  Note:  These must be wooden toothpicks, pine preferably. X
Parchment Paper Two-nine inch disks of parchment paper.  Note:  The paper comes in a container where the paper is rectangular and the end-user is responsible for cutting the paper to fit the cake pans.
Knife Butter, non-edged, metallic X
Spoon Metallic (optional) X
OPTIONAL INGRIDIENTS  
Butter or margarine (end-user choice) .25 Cups X
Powdered sugar 3 Cups X
Milk, Source: Cow, Pasteurized .666 Cups X

Once all ingredients have been properly inventoried they should be laid out on a flat clean surface with easy access for the end-user to utilize them.  A good lighting source should be available as well.  “Clean surface” as defined as one that has been fully disinfected and cleansed with company approved cleaning products (full list available on the self-help portal).

 

Step 2

2.1  Stand before the fully operational oven.  Utilizing the oven heating controls, activate the heating element for your oven to a temperature of 350°F.  Make sure oven door is fully closed before beginning this step.  Overheating or under-heating the hardware can result in a failed cake deployment.

2.2 Melt six ounces of the chocolate as directed on the rear of the package.  Note:  These are outsourced vendor steps provided with the software and the company is not responsible for their changes.  Chocolate, depending on the vendor, may have break-away sections for ounces.  Please select your chocolate vendor with this in mind.   Warning:  Do not attempt to taste unsweetened chocolate – it is not like eating a candy bar in this uninstalled state.

2.3 Carefully measure and pour the dressing, brown sugar, and two tablespoons of vanilla into the bowl.  For those unfamiliar with how to measure using the utensils please consult the Quick Reference Guide to “Measurement – you can do it!” on the self-help portal.  Utilizing the whisk or power mixer, intermix these ingredients until they are of a consistent texture, color, and fluidity.  Slowly rotate the bowl during this process to ensure a consistency with that material which may cling to the edges.  NOTE:  Do not taste the contents of the bowl during this stage of the implementation.

2.4  Take the eggs and gently tap them along the long edge of the egg on the lip or edge of the bowl, one at a time, until a fine crack forms on the outer shell.  Using both hands opposite of the crack, hyperextend the surface of the egg shell and pull apart, forming an apex opposite of the crack.  This should separate the shell into two distinct halves with the contents of the eggs falling out.  Note:  This should be done over the bowl so as to capture the contents into the mixture.

cracking-eggs-01
Correctly
wrong-way-egg
An unsupported and not recommended approach

2.5  Add in the flour, baking soda and salt in the measurements defined the Table A above.

2.6  As per previous instructions above, utilizing the whisk or power mixer, blend these contents together – again aiming for a consistency in color and texture.

2.7  Slowly introduce the melted chocolate into the mixture and continue to mix until the point where the chocolate has been fully drained into the bowl and intermixed with the remaining ingredients.  The approximate pour rate of one ounce of melted chocolate per 45 seconds of stirring.  Estimated overall time for this mixing is 6.25 minutes assuming a whip-rate of 46 beats per minute using a hand-whisk.  If end-users are utilizing a power mixer for this stage of the intermix, please consult the power mixing time ratio conversion chart in the self-help portal.

The final solution of mixed materials is referred to as “batter” and should have a color close to this sample:

Batter Sample Color Comparison Illustration 1:

brown

2.8  Place the cut parchment paper in the bottom of the metallic cake pans.  Please unsure that the paper is placed in the bottom and not the sides or top of the pans as this will prove less-than-effective and may cause a crash of your implementation.

2.9  Pour the contents of the mixing bowl into the two nine-inch metallic cake pans.  It is important that the amount of the mixed contents going into each pan should be nearly the same – or as close as possible.  Failure to get the amounts correctly balanced volume-wise between the two pans can result in inconsistent cooking of the contents and may impact the taste of the final product.

Step 3

3.1  Open the oven door carefully, so as to avoid touching any of the interior metallic surfaces as they are hot.  Reminder:  Heat can damage skin tissue and appropriate caution is recommended during this entire stage of the baking process.  Also items placed in the oven become hot and can damage tissue as well.  If you are unsure of how heat works, please consult the self-help portal.

3.2  Take the two pans and place them on the centermost rack of the oven.  The centermost rack is that rack which is positioned close to the virtual vertical center of the available cooking space; or on the rack on the center setting given the rack guides along the interior sides of the oven.  The pans must be slid in far enough so that the door can be closed without making contact with them.  The pans should not be stacked on top of each other but placed side-by-side horizontally on the rack, allowing for easier access.  Note:  When placing the pans do so in a manner that they are upright, holding the mixed contents, as opposed to upside down where the contents flow out of them and onto the cooking elements or the bottom of the cooking space.

3.3  Close the oven door carefully.

3.4  Set a timer for 30 minutes.  Some ovens come installed with an in-built application and control surface that has a hardware-based timer as part of their configuration.  The use of this timer is recommended for experienced users.  Otherwise another timer (including your smart mobile device) can be used.  It is important to set the timer immediately after the oven pans have been properly placed inside the oven and the door is closed.  If you wait several minutes before starting the timing processes, the cake end-product could be overcooked and inedible.  Note:  It may be easier to set the timer by removing your non-flammable oven mitts.  It is safe to do so at this time.  Please do not discard these reusable assets; retain your oven mitts for use in Step 4 however.  Warning: jarring action on your floor may upset the baking batter and cause the cake to “fall.”  This is deemed to be operator error.  During the baking stage (three) it is recommended that you do not use this time for jarring activities such as jumping jacks, working with a hydraulic lift, slamming doors in the kitchen, bouncing a basketball, etc.  IT cannot be held responsible for fallen cakes due to operator error.

3.5  When the timer goes off, after thirty minutes per step 3.4 above, disengage or disable it using the appropriate keystroke combination.

3.6  Take one of the toothpicks and hold it near one end so that the pick is vertical with the majority of the toothpick pointing downward.  Carefully open the oven door.  Note:  The door and everything in the oven is hot and can harm you if contact is made.  Using one of the nonflammable oven mitts, slide the rack with the cake pans out eight inches.  Using the toothpick as a spear, thrust it gentling into the approximate center of the cake for no more than one second, then extract it (carefully avoiding contact with any metallic surfaces inside of the oven.  Visually inspect the toothpick.  It should come out with none of the mixed batter on it.

3.7  If any quasi-liquid batter is on the toothpick, slide the oven rack back into place and set the timer for two minutes per step 3.4.  Then repeat Steps 3.5 and 3.6 until the toothpick comes out free of batter residue.

3.8  Once the toothpick is removed and is free of residual batter, the toothpick may be discarded.

3.9  Immediately shut off the oven using the power toggle switch or turn the appropriate control.  Please consult your appropriate oven owner’s manual for controls for your specific hardware.

Step 4

4.1  Put on your nonflammable oven mitts and carefully open the oven.  Firmly grasp the sides of one of the cake pans and side it off of the rack, putting it on a nonflammable surface or on top of the stove portion of your oven.  Keep the cakes upright, do not rotate the pans during this stage of the process.  Note:  There should be no more than a one minute time lag between steps 3.9 and 4.1. A timer is not required as this is considered a general guideline.

4.2  Repeat process 4.1 with the second cake pan, putting it near or next to the first pan.  Note:  Proximity between the two pans is not vital during this stage of the process.

4.3  Carefully close the oven door and remove the nonflammable oven mitts.

4.4.  In the second, unused mixing bowl, add the remaining chocolate to the butter.  Place the bowl in a microwave oven.  Close the door.  Set the timer to 1.5 minutes.  When the heating is completed, open the door, remove the bowl, and then close the door to the microwave oven.

4.5  Mix the material in the mixing bowl.  As it cools (3.25 minutes later) add in three cups of powdered sugar from the optional ingredients list along with .666 cups of milk.  Using a spoon or a clean whisk, stir the contents vigorously.  The contents of this bowl are henceforth referred to as the frosting – an optional ingredient for the cake.

4.6  One at time, take the cake pans and gently rotate them on an axis where they are upside down.  Note:  This should be done at a low altitude over a clean surface.  The cakes should come out of the pan.  Important:  Remove the parchment paper.  Then, carefully and gently rotate the cakes back to their original position identical to how they would have been placed in the metallic cake pans.

4.7  Using the knife, you should begin to take small quantities of the frosting and apply it to one of the cakes.  This cake will serve as a the bottom layer of the cake, using accepted nomenclature.  The frosting should be applied to the top and sides so as to prove a film completely and smoothly surrounding the lower cake layer on the top and sides (not on the bottom).

4.8  Take the remaining cake layer and gently place it on top of the frosted cake layer, aligning the edges so that it is vertically symmetrical with the lower layer.

4.9  Repeat step 4.7 on the top layer of the cake.  Extra time should be spent to smooth the sides of the two layers so they appear as a cohesive and merged combination, with the frosting material used to hide any defects or crevasses between the two layers.

4.10  Place the cake in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2.5 hours or more.

Photograph 3:  A cake

your-results-may-differ
A fully installed and deployed cake.  Your results may vary

Post Cooking Activities

5.1  Discard the toothpicks and parchment paper.  While we are a Green company these elements are generally considered non-reusable expendables during this process.

5.2  Any unused hardware should be inventoried and returned the appropriate storage space.  Note:  Placing the hardware in non-traditional or inaccurate space can result in possible fines, levies, and even a modicum of verbal abuse on the part of your spouse or significant other…all fully justified.

5.3  Any unused frosting may be consumed using the applicator-knife.  Note:  If you have blood sugar issues please consult with your physician before consumption of the remains.

5.4  Clean all used hardware utilizing the approved Quick Reference Guide – Maintenance and Cleaning of Household Kitchen Hardware.

 

At this stage your cake should be fully installed and the frosting implemented. Congratulations.

 

Important:  The company is not responsible for any weight gains or changes to your BMI as a result of you eating the cake you have created.   Also, any allergies related to food products – i.e. gluten, diary, chocolate, etc. are the responsibility of the end-user to manage and may be contradictory to the materials included in this recipe. Please see the appropriate legal disclaimer on the self-help portal.

The War on Employee Loyalty

Eyes
Beware the Corporate Overlords are watching!

Labor Day seems appropriate for my latest observation about corporate culture.  The Corporate Overlords, the mysterious demigod (in their mind) leaders have been fighting a titanic global war in the last few years – one that has hit thousands of organizations.  This is a comprehensive all-out war on employee loyalty.  This undeclared war, while somewhat unintended, is still being waged and will have long-term implications on the workforce, productivity, and the very survival of some organizations.

At a time when businesses increasingly demand more from their people, they actively take steps to drive them away.  Organizations expect long working hours, demand their staff stay connected 24×7 (even on their private mobile devices), and set output expectations that often require extended working hours and weekends just to tread water.  The war on employee loyalty would be comical if it wasn’t so funny.

Loyalty is a fickle thing.  In this context it is the commitment of the employee to the organization.  That can reflect itself in several ways; an employee’s willingness to work more hours, their ability to handle more workload, a desire by the employee to provide exceptional service or quality, the drive to do better, etc.  At its most basic level, it can be defined as employees simply remaining at the organization.  Above and beyond that, it is the employees taking extra measure, working harder or longer, or exercising exceptional effort to improve quality, productivity, and workplace culture.  These are all things that any leader or organization should value.  It’s all about commitment.

You would think organizations would place a value on loyalty…that there would be Directors of Loyalty or Loyalty Czars (or my suggestion “Lord of Loyalty.”)  You would also be delusional.  While organizations want (or outright demand) loyalty, they believe it should be unconditional.  In other words you have it and the company doesn’t want to invest in getting it. It’s as if your paycheck alone should garner your unswerving and undying support…as mere thanks for the opportunity to perform above-and-beyond.

Just typing this last sentence I threw up a little in the back of my mouth – no joke folks.

One reason that many organizations don’t place any importance on employee loyalty is they cannot tangibly measure it or its benefits.  It’s a lame excuse at best.  Oh sure, you can look at staff turnover rates, but most managers scoff at such numbers with the whine, “well, that’s not uncommon for our industry.”  This leads to employee satisfaction surveys.  These surveys don’t directly reflect the bottom-line profits, so leaders feel free to disregard the findings of such surveys.  The mentality is “if I can’t measure it, it must not be important.”  Even more entertaining is when results of such surveys are presented, leadership can twist the results to fit their own agenda.  “Oh, they rated us low there because they were confused by the question?” or “That only was rated low because the week before the survey we did X.”  Rather than own the results, leadership blames the results on the suspected ignorance of their staff.  Winning!

Jim
Survey results obviously are the staff’s fault…

There is also the misguided belief that an employee’s level of satisfaction/loyalty is their problem. “I can’t make my people more loyal or happy,” is the war-cry of the insipid and incompetent leader.  That is true. At the same time what leaders can do is create an environment where employees have the opportunity to be satisfied – thus generating loyalty.  To take the stand of, “there’s nothing I can do,” is a cop-out.

Another factor that comes into play is an assumption that staff are content and thus loyal.  Complacency and organizational “quiet” is considered by leadership as the byproduct of a happy and loyal workforce.  In reality, some organizations have little employee noise and friction because the free will and souls of the employees have already been crushed.  Those that speak out are often publicly punished.  Teams that stagnate or show signs of resistance are reorganized, merged, or disbanded.  Leadership takes on a Michael Vick role with the employees being their dogs.

Also chiseling away at loyalty is easy when you take away personal space in an office, going to free-roaming office space or open office spaces.  People used to have a place at work, even if it was a mauve burlap padded cubicle.  Companies have opted to strip that away with hotelling of office space to save real-estate costs.

Employees struggle to build meaningful relationships with each other as well. With more workers being virtual, their physical ties to their organization or their colleagues are stretched thin.  You can work with someone for years and never meet them face-to-face.  Same with your leaders.  Virtual teams need to connect physically from time-to-time to help establish stronger interpersonal relationships.  Many companies have deliberately assumed that because people are working virtually that they don’t need to get together live occasionally.

Another factor chipping away at employee loyalty is the abundant use of antiquated performance review systems/approaches.  The majority of organizations still rely on performance review systems dating back to the 1980’s.  These backwards looking systems based on numeric ratings, bell curves, and often spotty feedback are more of an administrative burden than performance growth process.  Many organizations have tried to divorce salary increases from performance discussions, despite the fact they are intertwined.  For experienced employees, performance reviews have become more of an ordeal than a true chance to talk about careers.

The sourcing of labor; or rather that out-sourcing of labor, also contributes to a dip in employee loyalty.  With organizations seeking low-cost labor solutions, employees can often feel their jobs are constantly at risk.  Some companies generate a culture where segments of their staff are forced to deal with the threat of outsourcing as a daily occurrence.  While this career-equivalent of the Sword of Damocles hangs over their head, ready to sever it from their bodies, they are expected to work longer hours and be more committed to the organization that is threatening them.

Technology also plays a role.  Companies, attempting to curb costs, have flirted with BYOD – bring your own device.  So now the company expects you to bring your own computer or pad rather than provide you one.  They invade employees phones with apps that the employee doesn’t want, but is required for work.  The icing on the cake is that they set rules and policies about the use of your own personal mobile device because they require you to use it to connect to work.  Imagine your organization telling you what features you had to have on your private car simply because you use it to go to work.  That is exactly what is happening in many organizations when it comes to the mobile device you bought and paid for.

One might argue that this is not a war against employee loyalty…that these are merely cases of unintended consequences.  Oops – did we jump up and down on your loyalty – our bad! I understand that and I’m not implying that leaders are huddle off somewhere plotting to take down morale by coordinating these various initiatives and directions.  Let’s be honest, most leaders aren’t capable of this level of coordination or even devious thinking (wink).

Milton
You’re talking about my office – aren’t you?  How did you know? 

My counter to that is that all of these are based on leadership decisions; right, wrong or moronic.  The fact that leadership did not factor in the impacts on employee loyalty, or that they simply don’t care, essentially places the blame at the top levels of organizations. All of these strategies and impacts were chosen directions on the part of upper management.  They simply did not care about the impact on employee loyalty – or worse, presumed that the staff were so enamored with their leadership that it didn’t matter.

Uh oh, I threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth again.

Some organizations deal with poor loyalty as if it were a cancer to be cut out.  Their solution is to drive out the long-term employees and replace them with new staff from the outside.  Rather than cure the problem, they opt for amputation and limb replacement.  In such organizations staff is a commodity that one purchases like office supplies.  Ironically, the result is more reduced loyalty (duh!).

Where can workers turn to mount a defense in the war on loyalty?  If they are US workers – nowhere.  Many HR departments over the year have been effectively neutered; reduced to the role of mitigating lawsuits rather than defending the staff from the mindless onslaughts of senior leadership.  The war against loyalty is a lonely one, fought in stark mauve-colored cubicles under bland florescent lights and in dreary battered conference rooms in glass-windowed hells all across the globe.

I fully understand that companies have to manage costs and address shareholders profit worries, blah, blah, blah.  At the same time leadership has to look at the impacts on its workforce of strategic decisions and plays some weight and value on their people.  Loyalty is a precious commodity.  Without it you have less commitment – a feeling that individual contributions are unappreciated or disrespected.  Whittling away at employee loyalty destabilizes the staff and kills productivity – and even causes them to begin to question the legitimacy of their leaders Sacrilege!  You kick morale hard enough and you get staff that won’t spring in the air the next time you yell, “jump.”  They will simply glare at you with a glazed expression of remorse, emptiness, and only having fond memories of why they used to care about their jobs in the first place.

The war is being waged out there…and many of us were drafted without even our knowledge. To you, out there in the trenches, all I can say is you are not alone!  I’m not with you – my company is great – but I hear your cries from the trenches.  Soldier on!

For more on my twisted views of the workplace, check out my books – Business Rules and Cubicle Warfare.