Write Mill : slowly grinding off the burrs!

Culture vs. Cruft

In the run up to the GLTW voting for 2014, an interesting development arose within the hallowed halls of the enterprise I work for.
Coinciding with the GLTW survey period, our leadership stumbled upon a new banner to run with and informed us that we would be embarking upon another corporate transformation. Apparently, this was to keep up from being slain by the overwhelming success of the last transformation.

This new transformation would catapult us onto the last rail car of a train which left the station 2 years ago , a train named ITaaS. We needed to deliver our resources as a service.. It promised all things the business must have.. Speed, efficiency, reduced cost, self-service, and a couple frosted unicorns tossed in to boot. Overnight the halls swell with associates from consultancies and org charts fly like life boats off the side of a sinking cruise ship. As the mad scramble begins to devolve into committees, the first slide decks emerge and emblazoned across the top of the ‘pros’ list, in justification of this land grab dressed in business casual are the words … “Great Locations to Work”.

Within a few days I’m invited to a round table discussion on the steering of said transformation , where a director, by birth right I guess, exclaimed among other riot inciting comments designed to mitigate our hesitation at the prospect of more continuous tail chasing, that .. “We need to be listed in the top tier on the Great Locations to Work survey ratings!”
I had a sinking feeling as I listened to this drool spill out onto the conference room table, I was repulsed watching it pool up into a rancid bit of a puddle of corporate DNA.. A potent sample of matter which carried all the worst attributes of a behemoth mother-ship.. As this follower in leaders clothing prattled on about the benefit to the organization, and the business value of the transformation, our retention of the best and brightest and a few other HR school jingles .. I plotted my exit.

I’m sure the founders of ‘Great Locations to Work’ did plan for the use of their baby as a scheme to attract unwary potential employees, and it could double as a club to beat thine enemy companies about the head in a very public way. I believe they must have seen the broader PR potential value as a flattering light shone by a communities media version of authoritative sources.

What I wonder is, did they envision that the ranking on a list, which they were being paid to consult about, would become in some organizations, an internal program foisted up as a goal to be achieved on a timeline and budget.. a marketing program undertaken with the same fervor as ongoing projects to migrate human capitol each quarter, closer to the work.. and further from compensation. Who knows .. but I will give the benefit of highest intention to the creators.

A truly great culture, where we are doing valuable work, where we have a sense of community and pride ,an employer who challenges us to grow, one who encourages and values our contributions. This would be a good start towards getting our enterprise on the list. Running a campaign to convince your teams that you should be on the list .. pressuring folks too vote you onto the list..will only get you on the list briefly and off the list in the end..

There are some organisations who rise to the top of these lists organically and they deserve to be held up for accolades, rightly so they continue attracting the best and the brightest , and they are always looking for a few more good people.. So Run! Forest! Run!

If an org feels it needs to set goals targeting any position in a “Great Locations to Work” or similar lists,
I’d say you should be looking for a new employer, one which isn’t cratering.

later .. paul



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