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Workplace democracy, no elections here

Election Hoopla

With all of the election Hoopla in the air, I can’t help but relate the current political themes back to corporate life 

Don’t worry folks, this post isn’t going to get political and you won’t hear any pitching for a party or bitching about another.  I have worked in HR for long enough to know better.  Religion and politics are the elephants in the room, I mean, ass in the workplace. 

What I want to talk about this week is my observation of employees carrying personal habits into their professional lives.   Some personal habits, like common courtesy and washing your hands are good. Some personal habits, BAAADDDD and need to stay at home.  Loud talkers, chewing with your mouth open and bitching about a decision made, BAAADDDD.      

The United States is a democracy

Which brings me to the political theme so prominent this week.  The United States is a democracy, which means the people vote and the majority wins.  It’s pretty straightforward.  After the election, the losing party doesn’t get to ask the question “Uhhh, OK, how about 2 out of 3?” This is a one-shot deal and a verdict is called, the gavel is dropped.  This is the way it has been for a couple of hundred years and until there is a coup, I see this happening for at least our lifetime.  I like this system and although I may not appreciate the outcome of all votes, I appreciate the choice to live within the system.  Yes, it is a choice, and yes, I appreciate democracy.    

What happens in the United States after the vote is where it gets interesting.  Let’s say the vote consists of two choices.  One is a Fuji Apple and the other is a Satsuma Orange.  Fuji Apple wins and there really isn’t much I can do about it short of moving out of the country. I need to live with Fuji Apple.   I don’t need to love it, but I need to live with it.   If I were smart, I would make apple pie.   

Elections and Personal life

In my everyday life, if I voted for Fuji Apple and Satsuma Orange wins, I can bitch all I want about the outcome.  I can rant, rave, blog, or write, about my feelings and the outcome.  I can even post on YouTube.  I can then go and piss everyone off at the local watering hole.  

It isn’t going to change anything, but depending on how vocal I am and how many beers I have had, I may or may not get kicked out of the local hangout.  For the most part, patrons and the waitress will look at me like the drunken ass I am.    

Side note: While I am ranting and raving at the hangout, I should hope and pray that the leaders of my company, HR, or management aren’t there.  Hopefully, my buddies didn’t take any pictures of me face down in a bowl of Ranch dressing and post pics to Twitter or Facebook.  

Elections and Professional Life

It’s a little different in professional corporate America.  For most of us, company decisions are made without our input.  It usually isn’t a vote.  There is one CEO, one commander and chief, one boss, manager, or leader and decisions aren’t decided via Rock Paper Scissors or a Vote.  Decisions are made by folks that probably have more information than I do.  After a company decision is made, I live with it. 

The difference is that after that company decision is made, I CANNOT be as vocal as I may want to be in my disregard for that decision.  I cannot go to the company lunchroom and bitch vocally about the recent decision (well I can, but I think it is painfully obvious that this would be a CLM aka ‘Career-Limiting Move’).  

The difference between my Democratic country and corporate America is that this is a FREE country and the company is PAYING me.  Yes, nothing is stopping me from being negatively vocal about a company decision but trust me, eyebrows are being raised, names are being crossed off lists, and Santa just decided to skip your house this year. 

Too many people think that Freedom of Speech extends to the workplace.  It does not.  It not only does NOT extend to the workplace, this mythical unicorn could not be further from the truth.  You PAY TAXES for the Freedom of Speech, you are PAID A SALARY for your support of company decisions. 

Am I asking you to bend to the Man, kiss his hand, and bow with a flourish?  No, what I am asking for is some diplomacy, tact, and courtesy.  It is OK to disagree with an idea or a decision.  Most leaders want disagreement because it helps solidify the stance where there is a healthy discussion.  For the sake of your reputation, disagree productively.

After the election results came in, Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade.  He can do this.  The United States is a free country and he has F.U. money.  But could you imagine that happening in corporate America after a company decision is made and announced?  

If he had tweeted the above about a company decision, his career would have been shuttered, his reputation tainted, and it would probably be tough to get another job anywhere in the free world.  This is the difference between a Free country and being Paid at work.   

I don’t know for sure, but I would like to think that a guy with Trumps connections and stature could make a positive difference on a decision that is already made.  I can only imagine how much influence he would have if he went after results differently. 

EG:  When an All Company meeting is called and an announcement is made, that is not the time to go ballistic and question the company direction.  When an all company email goes out announcing a new benefits plan with higher rates, that is not the time to publicly question the benefits.  THE TIME is after the meeting and behind closed doors.  THE WAY is with diplomacy.   You attract bees with honey and asking questions is honey.  Accusing decision is the hungry bear.         

Consensus:  When I am in a negotiation with a room full of execs, and we are looking to find agreement on a tough topic, I often times ask for “consensus”.  I clarify what consensus means to the group very clearly.  

I am not looking for you to Love the idea, I am not looking for you to Like the idea.  My question to the people in the room is “can you LIVE with the idea, can you not torpedo this idea?” 

So remember, in the working environment you are being paid a salary and you are not being asked to love all ideas.  The company wants you to live with the idea.  The company would appreciate your support on these ideas.  In the very least, the company asks that you do not torpedo their ideas.  The corporate world is not a democracy.  If it were a democracy, there would have been an election for your manager and CEO.  When was the last time you saw an election in the workplace? 

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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