by Chris Sherwood
A friend of mine recently told me about a meeting he attended at work wherein he was chastised for “being negative” after pointing out things have gone from bad to worse at their workplace.
Now, myself and many former employees can place personal bias aside and confirm, the place has most definitely gone downhill over the past ten to fifteen years. Look up the “Peter Principle” ( which states in most organizational hierarchies, such as that of a corporation, every employee will rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of their respective incompetence ) and this place could be Exhibit A. Countless outstanding and caring employees have left out of frustration, which has hastened the downward spiral.
You get the picture, I’m sure.
Anyhow, my buddy having kept me in the loop, I was frustrated to hear that someone with the stones to point out organizational issues would be brushed off as being negative. Smarter people would recognize honesty and listen.
The company has frequently been referred to as a “sinking ship” by many who have gone on to better things, an apt description for sure. Coincidentally, this meeting took place on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Can you imagine if some of the people running the corporate world today were captain on that ill fated night?
“Excuse me Captain, we have a problem.”
“It’s Evans right? What is it, Evans?”
“You know that iceberg we hit a little while ago?”
“The officers and I were just discussing that. We think it’ll be fine.”
“Well sir, that’s just the thing. We’ve uh, taken on water.”
“Poppycock. It’s just a small leak, the officers tell me we should be fine.”
“With all due respect sir, the passengers in steerage have already drowned.”
“On their own vomit, likely. Those Irish love their drink, har har.”
“Sir, the ship is going to sink.”
“Don’t be so negative Evans, look around you. Why, look, the band is playing for the passeng-“
“Sir, the band is also crying.”
“Sigh… okay Evans, tell you what. We’ll form a committee and discuss the issue further at a later date. In the meantime I’d like you, Frye, and Payne to re-arrange the deck chairs. There’s a lot of passengers up here this evening.”
“Aye aye sir, just as soon as we move that lifeboat over there.”
Can you imagine?!? Yet the same thing happens all the time in the corporate world.
I’ve long believed a large part of the problem is middle management, having achieved their own Peter Principle induced level of incompetence, have one priority above all others. Saving their own ass.
They do this by keeping upper management and the board from knowing there’s serious problems in the trenches. So long as their bosses stay in the dark, middle management stays on the payroll. And it isn’t until the Captain and other officers are up to their balls in ice water that they take notice. Of course by then, it’s too late. Everyone is dead or jumped ship.
“Th-th-th-they told me th-this sh-sh-ship w-w-as unsinkable!”