Bob MacDonald on Business

Sage Advice for Superior Business Management

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Is Corporate Culture Putting Your Job at Risk?

May 13th, 2013 · 2 Comments · Building Better Business Managers, Business Management

Identifying the Malady of Management Malfeasance and put Your Career on a Successful Path

For those who have jobs and are in the midst of building a career, there are usually two issues that are front and center in their thinking: Is my job secure and does the company I work for provide an opportunity for personal growth?

These are good questions and the only way to really find the answers is to constantly asses the cultural environment, viability and potential of the company for which you work. Unfortunately, the answers will not be found in the past or even current performance and reputation of the company, but only by exploring and understanding the very fundamentals of how the company you work for is managed and led. Even if the company has achieved success in the past, if the company now seems to be going down the wrong path, then you should consider seeking your own path.

The good news is that employees themselves are in the best position to determine the future direction of the company and the potential opportunity for their own career growth. The key is to be observant and brutally honest about what is seen and experienced in the workplace.

It all starts and ends with the attitude and philosophy of management. What type of organizational culture is management seeking to build? Do they even care about creating a positive organizational culture? Or is it something to which only lip service is given? The answers to these questions will go a long way toward helping you determine the security of your employment and the potential for your future.

Obviously, the place to start is to determine if the management of a company is ethical. The use of the term “ethical” in this case is not about lying, cheating and stealing. If that is the modus operandi of management then the answer is simple. For the purposes of this piece, ethics refers to the attitude and operating philosophy of management. Do they speak with forked-tongue? Do they talk the talk of good culture, but operate in a closed, self-serving fashion?

A good example of management lacking sound ethics is a management group that incessantly talks about how important the employees are to the success of the company, but when black clouds are sighted on the horizon, the first actions of management are to “downsize” and “outsource.” When challenges arise, managers lacking true ethics quickly herd unsuspecting employees to the twin alters of downsizing and outsourcing, where they are sacrificed to the pagan gods of illusory profits.

If you work for a company where management holds the belief that costs will be reduced and profits increased when important functions (and the people doing them) are outsourced to those with no knowledge of the company and with no concern for its future or the future of its people, then it is reasonable to question your job security and opportunity. And, you should do something about it.

Let’s be honest and acknowledge that there are no requirements for management to be open and all-inclusive in their actions. In fact, in most organizations this type of attitude is accepted and typical. But, that does not make it right or, for that matter, the way to develop long-term success. And, such an attitude does not bode well for job security and opportunity.

Those who build business cultures that generate employee job security and opportunity are those who do the right things that are not required to be done; this is the essence of ethical leadership. They rise above average, commonplace leadership because they know that building healthy organizational culture is crucial to the success of the company and to their own future. That is the type of company that people not only feel comfortable working for, but more importantly one they can be their career futures on.

Of course, it is possible climb the corporate ladder working for a company that does not practice ethical management – many do – but to do so, an individual must be willing to sell their soul to this type of soul-less leadership. That may be okay for awhile, but you really have to ask yourself if you want to live your life that way. And, in all likelihood, your future and that of your company will be put at risk.

Here are a few tips and telltale signs an individual can use to determine if their job is secure and an opportunity for career development present.

Communication – Is the management of the organization open and honest in their communication with all employees? Is information about the company considered the exclusive purview of management? Is information provided on a regular and reliable basis? Are employees constantly caught off guard by the actions of management? Is the dreaded rumor mill the primary source of information for employees?

Trust – Do management actions build an atmosphere of trust? Are management actions – especially as it applies to employees – honest, constant and consistent? Can management pronouncements be taken at face value or do employees feel they have to question and read between the lines to determine what they really mean? Are employees comfortable trusting their future to the actions and interests of management?

Parallel Interests – Do employees believe that management makes an honest effort to align the interests of the company with those of its employees? If the company is successful, do the employees believe they will share in the success their efforts helped to create? Is the success of the organization the success of all or is it management that takes both the credit and the spoils for any success?

Power Sharing – Is power concentrated rather than shared? Is the management group so insecure and controlling that they must actually define themselves as the “leadership team?” Are employees given the responsibility for tasks, but not the tools or authority to achieve them? Do employees come to feel that what they do – unless they fail – is not recognized by management and that they are really powerless to make a difference?

Employee Value – Does management constantly talk about how important employees are but treat them only as pawns? Are employees the last to know and the first to be blamed, downsized or outsourced? Does management speak of respect, but take actions that often denigrate the value and importance of the employee?

And The Moral of the Story …

If you are serious about your job security and your future career, it is incumbent upon you to take control of your future. There is no security in allowing others to control your future. Taking control of your future starts by putting yourself in a place that gives you a future. And that means making a choice about the roads before you.

If you find yourself working for a company infected with the malady of unethical management malfeasance, you know you are in the wrong place. You have two choices. You can give up and give in and place your job security and future in the hands of leaders you neither trust nor respect. Or, you can take control of your own future by finding a place where your efforts are respected and offers the opportunity for you to be what you can be. It may not be easy, but it is always better to fail trying than to fail to try.

(Bob MacDonald is transitioning from his winter hideout in Key West, Fla. to his warm weather enclave (is it spring, yet?) in Minnesota. Hence, a repeat of this blog originally published March 15, 2010.)
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