Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Work Integrity

Ever watch the HBO series "The Newsroom"? I just started watching season 1. I know that I am a year behind, but I don't care. I like watching a show when I can view episodes in rapid fashion. No waiting a week for the next episode. Just click on the next one in HBO On Demand and no waiting.

I mention this show because I love how truthful each character is with each other. Sure it is a TV show and people don't talk like that in real life. I feel that is a shame. One thing I appreciate about a person is knowing where I stand with them. I have had only one supervisor in my career in which I knew exactly where I stood with him. No wondering if I was doing a good job. He would tell you. Good or bad he let me know, and I loved it.

I have worked in many team settings in which the truth was rarely told. Sure someone was told the truth about their abilities if it was good news or bad news on an easy target (low on the totem pole), but never if it will be uncomfortable for both parties. So, what ends up happening is poor performers that are not easy targets go on not knowing that they are not living up to standard and many times promoted.

Who suffers? Mostly the high performer who is really low on the totem pole. High performers who are not seen as promotable often carry the team. At least in my experience. I have witnessed time after time someone get a promotion because the team performed well and that person is either good at selling themselves or has the right credentials. Many times the promoted person was the dead weight the team had to carry and still go a good job, but gets all the credit because no one shared the truth of the situation.

I would love to work for a company in which honesty and integrity were not buzz words, but actual values. A place in which an honest exchange does not end up with hurt feelings and a trip to HR. The only place I have seen this happen has been on sports teams I was a member. If my performance was not good enough to be a starter, I rode the bench. I didn't whine and complain to the equivalent of amateur sports HR - my parents. Instead I worked to improve my technique or conditioning or whatever shortcoming I was told I had in hopes of improving enough to get on the field.

Why can't working in an office be the same? "Sorry, Jimmy you don't get a raise because you cannot perform tasks a and b that are critical to your job." Then Jimmy goes and works on tasks a and b to get better at them and improve his skill set. Instead we hide behind a 1 to 5 rating system and give a 2 or 3 in hopes Jimmy gets the picture. It doesn't matter anyway because corporate is giving everyone the same raise dictated by budget constraints. Boy I bet Jimmy really learned his lesson.

Maybe you view this post as someone just bitching. Maybe you are right, but think about it. How many times have you seen someone getting ahead and you know in your heart that they are below average and maybe even terrible at their job? Don't you wish someone was honest with someone up the ladder and the truth was well received? Instead the company will unknowingly suffer from the poor performance. Employees become disenfranchised, moral lowers and productivity falls. That seems so much better that facing the truth. Right?

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