THINGS YOU NEVER HEAR AT WORK BUT SHOULD
Todd Dewett | April 15, 2014
I believe we need far more honesty and candor at work. When I share this idea, most people agree. It’s funny though – if you ask people to embrace the idea, they stumble. It’s like asking someone if eating healthy is smart. They say yes, and they mean it. Then they eat a box of Hot Pockets. So I thought I’d offer up a few good examples of things you never hear at work, but should. If self-delusion, entitlement, and BS were banned at the office, you just might hear one of these.
Our mission statement is complete crap.
Be honest. How often are you really moved by your organization’s mission statement? Have you ever been in a bind and looked to the mission statement for guidance? Not likely. Do you even think it’s accurate? The truth, sadly, is that the mission statement is often a simple aspiration that is meaningfully disconnected from the daily reality inside the organization (same with vision and values).
This policy makes no sense and should be ignored.
Bureaucracy is a tenacious foe. Once armed with too many policies it beats people into submission. They cease thinking for themselves and instead start asking what is acceptable in the eyes of the bureaucrats. What follows is a drop in the potential for innovation. Why take the risks of offending some system, committee, policy, or methodology? Unfortunately, few folks decide to speak up and say the obvious: a lot of rules hurt more than they help.
Boy did we screw up when we hired that guy.
Even the best companies and hiring managers sometimes get it wrong. It happens. The only thing worse is not getting rid of the person in a respectful and swift manner once the evidence becomes clear. Long-term, the best thing for the team and your reputation is to correct the mistake quickly. Instead, we happily ignore it and allow it to fester.
The leadership team is at fault and will pay for it.
Imagine the CEO walking into a huge employee meeting and announcing, “Everyone, the leadership team has met and decided that we have screwed up too much and we should pay for it. Thus, until profits return, we are eliminating all executive perks, suspending our bonus program, and announcing a freeze on all executive pay increases.” You’ll know you work for a firm with integrity when you see managers sacrificing even more than they ask of the employees.
Open talk like this might precipitate a few heart attacks. Most of us are simply not used to frank exchanges. This level of candor, however, is exactly what is required to break through the collective delusions that often dominate organizational life. Speaking honestly is of course not without risk. You can easily jeopardize your standing by speaking freely. So be frank, but also be positive and be helpful.
It’s your call. You can speak up and see if your team can handle a little reality, or you can continue to self-delude. Enjoy the Hot Pocket.