If You Wouldn’t Work for the Evil Empire, Why Do You Work at Reorg Inc.?
Part 3 in the Chronicles of Reorg Inc.
Imagine you’re a Star Wars extra who works for the Empire. Scene-by-scene, you stand in the background, pushing buttons and sliding levers whenever somebody yells “fire!” It’s a thankless job. You don’t ever get a “Hey, thanks for helping us destroy that planet,” or “Supreme Leader Snoke wishes you a happy birthday.” Your manager is the maniacal and genocidal Darth Vader, who never has a bright word to say. You literally work every day at the most depressing place in the universe … a floating, cement ball called the Death Star. Your CEO is a guy named Darth Sidious — Darth Sidious! — and at the company Christmas party, he hands out coupons for a free Wendy’s Frosty instead of those much-deserved bonuses.
This was my life at Reorg Inc. (minus the free Frostys). Working for Reorg Inc. was literally a Death Star job … dark, depressing, hopeless. And while the company’s dark lords didn’t destroy planets, they constantly destroyed lives with their nonstop, profit-driven reorganizations.
Eventually and thankfully, I escaped the Death Star on my own terms. And I want to help you escape too. If you’ve grown comfortable in a known hell, I’m here to tell you that things are better and brighter in an unknown heaven. As Yoda once said, “In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” Let me light the way by showing you my better life since leaving Reorg Inc.
Whoa! Hold It! I Have a Future?
At Reorg Inc., your future’s a weed, and the company doesn’t want it to take root. There’s no future — none — when you constantly worry about the next notification, the one filled with a whole lotta “unfortunatelys.” At Reorg Inc., you cling to today because your tomorrow’s soaked in company-sanctioned weed killer.
But not every company survives by nuking the future. At the university I work for, the future is an asset and an opportunity. We have a 5-year adaptive plan and (gasp!) a developing plan for 2030. And I nearly passed out when I was told that I’d need my passport for trips in 2019 and 2020.
Goodbye Reorg Inc. Hello tomorrow!
“Travel”: It’s a Swearword at Reorg Inc.
Travel (that is, travel with reimbursement) is “he who shall not be named” at Reorg Inc. Reorg Inc. places all travel expenses in a lock box, inside a safe, encased in concrete, and then lowered into the darkest depths of the Marianas Trench. You … as a member of the rank-and-file … can’t pry a single travel penny out of Reorg Inc. (of course, when an executive wants to fly himself and a client to The Masters, the coffers magically open).
But on the side of good and light, where darkness is afraid to go, travel is an asset. Recently, my university ponied up for a communications conference in Milwaukee, all expenses paid. And in the last 365 days, we’ve flown (plus lodging and food) multiple teams to Johannesburg, Nashville, Dallas, and Jakarta (and that’s just within my department).
Not every employee needs to travel, but if your company’s travel policy is a scorched-earth policy, then things are grim. This is especially true at Reorg Inc., where every decision — from travel to layoffs to culture — promotes collateral damage (i.e., employees) for the benefit of profits and those in power.
There’s No “I” In Team (Some Companies (not you Reorg Inc.) Actually Mean It)
Reorg Inc. constantly trots out set pieces to stage a moment of “team” fiction. One of these set pieces is the infamous “town hall,” where the team gets together to watch Zeus descend from the mountain. At metaphorical gunpoint, the team cheers for Zeus, and Zeus rewards everyone with false hope. “We’re growing,” Zeus promises, “and we can’t do it without you.” An hour later, your email dings, and there’s a reorg announcement in your inbox.
I now work for a true “team” organization, a place that values relationships, shared ideas, and the power of community. There are “launch” events, where everyone comes together to welcome something new. There are holiday parties, where everyone comes together to eat, laugh, and celebrate. There are goals attained and milestones surpassed, and everyone comes together to applaud each other’s contributions.
To all the people working for a Reorg Inc., heed my warning. There is only one team under the reorg umbrella … the all-powerful team that decides who lives and who dies. Everyone else sits on their own personal island, waiting for their own personal demise.
2% Growth: The Big (Unattainable) Vision of Reorg Inc.
Reorg Inc. sets goals that are unrealistic for a shoddy company. Rah, rah, rah … let’s shoot for 2% growth!!! That’s Mt. Everest for Reorg Inc., but what the heck, let’s aim high. To inspire this growth, I imagine a boardroom decorated with framed motivators, like this one from General George S. Patton: “Accept the [2%] challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” Ahhh, Patton would be proud to see leaders busting their humps to move profits a mere two percentage points. But maybe not so proud to see them doing it with pink slips and payroll reductions.
But there are companies out there with a vision for real growth, not the head-chopping kind. I work for one of those companies (actually a university). At my university, we’re guided by a unifying vision … a huge vision … one that binds us, motivates us, and guides us beyond short-term growth. When we speak of growth, it’s not as 2% points. When we speak of growth, we’re talking about a “big, hairy, audacious goal.” The “big, hairy, audacious goal” is Jim Collins’ term from Good to Great. I don’t think the leaders at Reorg Inc. have ever read Good to Great. But it’s a safe to say that their management style is loosely based on that business classic The Enron Story.
It All Boils Down To Corporate Suckiness
I could go on all day about the detriments of Reorg Inc. (and the better/brighter world beyond the walls). But I don’t need to. Everyone knows that these companies suck. Don’t put up with it anymore! If you’re afraid to make the leap to a better company, at least plant the seed — start looking! Take that first step. You’ll gain a little power. You’ll feel a little better.
There are better companies out there — I promise — companies that’ll care about you, companies that’ll offer you a future, companies that’ll motivate you with a big, hairy, audacious goal.
Your time in this universe is too short.
Stop wasting it on the Evil Empire.