Employee Appreciation, Or: Happy Peasantry Day!

by hulk

So I got appreciated today. I wish it never happened. We were all sat down in the conference room to listen to a six minute taped message from my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. The main points of his message?

1. We need to save money
2. We need to get new customers
3. You all need to appreciate each other more
4. We can only accomplish our goals if you all work together
5. This company is really about you

I would’ve burst out laughing if my boss weren’t right there. Ironically, earlier in the day I had mentioned the movie “In Good Company” to some co-workers because of the scene where Dennis Quaid questions the CEO on the nonsensical phrases and buzzwords and meaningless entreaties in his speech. Something about synergy, I don’t remember the CEO’s speech exactly. My boss sidled right up to my side and I didn’t want to be obvious so I finished what I was saying about the movie. Then I get a pretty similar speech from the boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. Now you might be thinking, “Yes, but you’re just a cynical employee. You’d never be happy.”

You may be right. I could name a few things that would make me happy. Perhaps a speech with this message:

1. Here are my major priorities
2. Here is how I will find solutions to these priorities
3. Here is where you fit in to that (followed by some division-wide examples)
4. No meaningless slogans!

W. Edwards Deming devotes quite a bit of attention in his book “Out of the Crisis” to meaningless slogans. If you’re a manager, take heed, because Deming was part of the team that taught Japan all it knew. Deming was a genius of industry who could solve all sorts of industrial problems on a high level. He knew that meaningless slogans simply made the worker more frustrated. They would feel that they should attain the goal referred to by the slogan but would find it impossible to do so from their level and would thus feel frustrated. Examples? “You make a safe workplace” or “We drive customer quality” or “Aspire to improve revenue” or “Only you can prevent forest fires”.

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