Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stupid Corporate Tricks - #1

People in corporate America take themselves way too seriously. Greedy and inept CEOs drive their companies into the ground while raking in gazillions of dollars in pay, perks, stocks, and bonuses. Clueless managers mindlessly bob their heads in agreement with whatever ridiculous idea or business fad du jour is being touted by their bosses as the next great idea. Of course, the people actually doing the work have nothing to do with how well the companies perform. If the firm does well, it is the executives' doing. If not, well it must be the workers.

In the forty-plus years I have been in the workforce, I probably have enough material to write a book. Perhaps I will. Still, it seems appropriate to share a few stories from the front lines of life in the corporate world here. While I have adapted myself to conform to the culture of offices akin to Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip, I remain free spirited enough to see through the bullshit and recognize that the emperor indeed has no clothes.

So let's talk about a situation that happened when I worked at a telecommunications firm back in the late 1980s. I was in major account sales, and was doing rather well at it. During our annual meeting for the entire sales organization, it was announced that our “President's Club” for that year would be held at a resort in Hawaii. The top sales people in the company would be sent on an all expenses paid trip for two with awards and activities to reward overachievers. They showed us video of the resort, and all the terrific things that would be part of the trip for those whose sales qualified them to go.

During the course of the year, there was a change of plans announced. Instead of Hawaii, the trip was to be moved to Dana Point, California. Just as nice as Hawaii, we were told. Right! Well, as it turns out, when the time came for the President's Club trip, it was definitely not to Hawaii. Actually, it wasn't to Dana Point either. They ended up having the event at a resort in Scottsdale, Arizona on the outskirts of Phoenix. Nice, but definitely not Hawaii or Dana Point.

Now they did have some enjoyable activities lined up for us while in Scottsdale, but the highlight of the trip was an awards banquet to Pinnacle Peak Patio, a western themed steakhouse on top of a mountain. They put all of us top sales people and our spouses on buses to make the trip to Pinnacle Peak. Along the way, a staged hijacking by cowboy bad men occurred. They pulled the bus over, and a bunch of western hooligans came on board and “kidnapped” the executives. They went on ahead, and by the time we reached the venue, the execs all had on aprons and were serving up the chow. Nice enough.

However, once we were into enjoying the meal, the real reason we were there became readily apparent. The awards presentations began. Since all of us present were the top sales people in the entire company, assembled from all over the country, surely they were going to present some awards to us for exceeding our quotas and making money for the company. You might think that, but you'd be wrong.

The executives began giving speeches about each other, and what a wonderful job they did to motivate all of us to overachieve the goals set for us. They would then present each other with nice fat bonus checks for doing such a fine job. Then we were expected to applaud each of them as they received their checks and made their acceptance speeches. Obviously, they needed an audience to react to their awards ceremony. Once that was complete, it was back on the buses for the trip back to the hotel. Makes you really proud to work for a company with such motivating management! Well, maybe not.

No comments: