Sometimes when I write about the corporate quagmire, people say, “You are describing my particular department at Hell, Inc.!
Others like my wife Gretchen, who is sometimes too goodhearted to believe, will say, “You are unfairly categorizing Human Resources people as minions of the Devil!”
Still others say, This job is killing me, but I think it’s my fault for not being more proactive!”
All of the above statements are true. If you are interested, I will fill in the background for you and describe a test you can do to see if you are a victim, a minion, or a survivor.
Let me continue the thread that I started in the last post about corporate fables. I have worked at twenty-five companies over a period of 47 years. The education I received and the friendships I formed were priceless. Every single decision I made, even the ones that turned out disastrously, were based on the information I had at the time.
I can not look back and see a single bad decision I would have made differently…unless I had the hard-won knowledge that I am passing on to you. If there had been an internet and business blogs when I was struggling to make career decisions, I know that my business life would have been quite different.
I can say that with certainty, because after I began reading books like The Peter Principle and Crossing the Chasm, my ability to spot corporate insanity shot up immediately. I was suddenly able to recognise that I was missing essential data about corporate behavior.
I think that blogs can have an enormous effect in making people successful in their careers, by creating and maintaining a body of anecdotal information on how businesses actually make decisions about employees. We can’t work long enough to make all of the possible mistakes as an employee, but we can learn from the mistakes of others. If every blogger wrote a few posts about their work experiences, we would have a searchable database of career disasters and triumphs that could change the future of employment.
Now back to the litmus test for your job. If you don’t feel good about what you are doing, you are probably doing something unethical. If you are doing this unethical activity because you are following orders…you are compromising your integrity and no amount of money will make up for that. You are a minion, and that’s what it feels like.
The HR people I spoke of earlier get put in that situation, and they hate it! I have spoken privately to HR people in several companies and the major complaint was about having to stonewall in order to conceal management misbehavior. Why do you think there is so much turnover in HR departments? On the face of it, a career in HR sounds like a cushy job.
Let’s talk about Hell, Inc. You, of course, do not work for Hell, Inc. because your company is one of the leaders in its field. Competence and a high standard of corporate responsibility are a requirement for success in your company. Of course, there is the fact that you are made to feel guilty a lot of the time for things over which you have little control. That, and the fact that you’ve had heartburn for the past year makes you wonder if you are cut out to be a succcessful sales/marketing/project manager.
So here is the test:
If you are concientiously doing your job, taking losses occasionally, but coming back to push things through to a done and you are still being made wrong, being made guilty, and are not part of the group that laughs loudly behind the closed doors of the director’s office – you are in a dwindling spiral. You are in an insane environment and no amount of discussion is going to change it. If you do not muster up your courage and find another job soon, management is going to push you out of Hell, Inc when you least expect it.
The key factors are:
1. Are you really doing everything possible to make things go right for customers and for the company and you are being made guilty for it?
2. Are you getting no acknowledgement or worse, being continually criticised?
3. Have you managed to improve your performance after being warned or reprimanded and are still getting criticised or being given suicide missions?
If you are hitting three out of three, you are working in a destructive and suppressive environment. The longer you stay there the sicker you will become, unless you change your spots and become like the managers you loathe. Don’t laugh, that has happened. When you are surrounded by the insane, it is hard not to become like them.
If you have done all you can to improve your performance and you are still being made guilty or you feel guilty, you need to make a career change. I would like you to be a survivor. If you can avoid repeating some of my experiences, you will have a much easier time of it. It is entirely up to you.