When Pigs Fly
Pigs will fly before corporate America regains the loyalty of the majority of workers. After years of layoffs, benefit cuts, and shifting jobs overseas it will take more than empty promises to engender a greater sense of loyalty.
I can recall at just about every position an instance where responses were crafted to mislead employees on some upcoming event – an office move, loss of a contract that resulted in layoffs, company being acquired, or a shift in corporate policy which affected employees. Of course, the justification was to prevent employees from being confused or misinterpreting events. Think about it, is there any more pompous condescending attitude?? In essence, it is the impression of senior management that the majority of employees are incapable of analytical thought and/or are too stupid to understand corporate strategy.
- Due to an ownership transition the corporate office was rumored that it might be relocated. Instead of being honest and upfront with the inevitability of this event management followed a course of outright lies. I would support any decision that was openly communicated but was told repeatedly that a move was not in the cards. I became an unwitting accomplice as I believed what I was being told, relayed that to staff in meetings, and in the end looked like a player in the string of lies to keep everyone working happily while their jobs were phased out.
- Landscape architecture firm senior staff meeting there was a discussion regarding moving offices around. A simple enough innocuous event, or so I thought. Not knowing that the COO was a closet spy freak I announced the possibility at the weekly accounting meeting. Big mistake, here comes Mr. COO all red in the face, huffing and puffing, and says, “How dare you communicate private confidential information discussed in a senior staff meeting!”. Excusssse me, but moving several people around in offices did not rise to the level of top secret information in my mind but it did show the same asinine attitude amongst some in senior management that employees are incapable of sane rational thought when confronted with this “high level” strategic information. Puhleeze. Then the CFO comes into my office with her usual politically correct head up ass attitude and wants to know, “what were you thinking?”. My response, “I don’t care what the CEO or COO thought on this subject as this was much ado about nothing.”. Her response was very telling, “You HAVE to care what they think.”. Wrongo, unlike the CFO at this company I did not sign away my right to have an opinion, believe in open disclosure, and have rational thought processes. Told her I still did not care and that just shattered her world since someone who has sold their soul has a very hard time in understanding those who retain some sense of dignity and independent thought.
- Last example, same landscape architecture firm was being acquired by a much larger company. Meeting after meeting at the senior level discussed ways to spin this to staff in the most positive way. Your jobs will not be in danger (but we will eliminate redundant positions), the company will remain independent (but we will be merged over time), benefits will not change (not at first but we will adopt the larger companies plans), trust us we will retain our unique culture and operating style (only until everyone in senior management has feathered their nests and then adios suckers). Today this landscape architecture firm no longer exists as it did, many positions were eliminated, and senior management has been absorbed into the larger entity.
Lesson learned: trust your instincts. If what you are being told flies in the face of conventional wisdom and rational thought then adjust your strategy accordingly. Don’t take anyones statements at face value when the facts indicate otherwise, no matter what level they occupy in the organization.