As I was leaving the building in which I had spent the morning engaged in several meetings with clients I was approached by a person who I recognized as being one of the client company employees.
He asked me if I had a few minutes to speak with him and we set off in pursuit of a bench in the parking lot where we could sit and chat.
He told me that he just wanted to share with me why he thought my efforts in introducing a few new ideas to this company would prove to be futile.
He wanted to make sure that I knew how bad things really are and how the only predictable thing about this company was the steady deterioration of morale caused by daily mismanagement.
According to my new source, management:
– Don’t know what they’re doing.
– Have no idea about what’s going on.
– Wouldn’t be able to run a hot dog stand.
– Treat people like garbage.
– Promote only their favourites.
– Never tell the truth.
– Collectively have the IQ of a doorknob.
Each point of explanation was delivered with a serious confirming head nod and presented as if it was a laboratory certified statement of fact that was undeniable, irrefutable and absolute.
I believe it was Spinoza who said that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.
Apparently he was wrong. There is no other side. This is exactly how it is.
Everyone knows that.
Coming to work each day was like being thrown into the fires of hell.
And every one of the twenty-two years he had toiled there had been worse than the previous.
And he needed me to know this because management would never tell me the truth.
Over the years I have heard these horror stories from people in many different organizations and I have no doubt that some of what they tell me is accurate. I also have no doubt that they believe that all of what they tell me is scientifically provable fact and not just an opinion.
And I always find this confusing.
You see, every one of these folk volunteered to work in those organizations.
Not one of them appeared before a judge, having committed some unspeakable crime against humanity, and was sentenced to a lifetime of torture at the hands of evil managers.
They are always free to leave anytime they wish.
But people like my parking lot companion seldom do.
Instead, having convinced themselves (and as many co-workers as they can) of the evils of the organization, they disengage from their jobs.
They do less than stellar work.
They quit bringing forth their ideas and suggestions.
They expend huge amounts of energy on criticising the organization, management, co-workers and everything else that garners their attention.
They practice what I call the “Maximum/Minimum Rule. This is a rule which states that the Maximum effort I will expend is the Minimum required to ensure that no-one will bother me. On others words, I will do the very least I can get away with.
And I have a real problem with this.
I believe it is OK to be disenchanted. We all experience that from time to time.
But it is not OK to be disengaged.
Being disengaged is character revealing. It speaks volumes about a person.
And not in a flattering way.
I believe that being completely engaged is also character revealing. It shows pride in who you are and professionalism in how you commit.
Recently a manager retired from an organization where I have been doing work for some time.
This man modelled excellence in everything he did. There were times when he felt extremely disenchanted and never once did he allow that to adversely influence his commitment to his job and his level of engagement to the organization.
He had far too much pride to allow that to happen.
His performance did not let up for one second right up until the end of his very last day.
So feeling disenchanted is a great time to examine our choices.
Can we remedy the situation? Are we willing to live with it? Should we develop an exit strategy?
Regardless of the choice we make, the right thing to do is to always remain engaged until the very end.
If you go home every day exhausted from giving your all, from doing your very best, then you are a person whose self pride will know no bounds.
That makes you rare and very, very special.
Something we should all aspire to.
Till we read again.
P.S. I have received many emails commenting on the very flattering review of my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours. Check it out for yourself.
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