Let Them Eat Their Just Dessert

Let Them Eat Their Just Dessert

Honest, I’m not normally in the habit, but Saturday was a slow day … so yes, I did take a peek at the Miss Manners column while I was reading the newspaper. And, I was absolutely astonished by the first letter she discussed. In case you didn’t see it, I’ve quoted a part of it below.

“I work at a rather large corporate office. This year, we’ve had several top executives leave, and our human resources manager, who has organized going-away parties for them, directly solicits money from the staff.

She makes public lists of who has donated and how much. More importantly, she keeps a list of who doesn’t donate….

There is no going-away gift, just cash or gift credit cards. There are going-away cards, but only certain people in the office are allowed to sign them, regardless of donation.”

Can you believe that? Assuming the letter is accurate, there are so many problems with the company in question, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Let’s start at the top. This is a textbook case of clueless corporate leadership. If the CEO knows what’s going on and hasn’t done anything about it, he or she should be fired. If they don’t know what has been going on, they should also be fired. And so should every executive between the CEO and the HR manager.

Now, I know some of you will think that’s way too severe. But consider this: if leaders are responsible for organizational success—which is the rationale they use for the obscene pay packages they’ve been bringing home—then they are also responsible for organizational failure. And this seemingly small failure has potentially huge consequences. Most “A” level talent won’t tolerate such inept leadership or show the patience of this letter writer. They’d be out of the organization in nanoseconds, which is why the CEO and his or her direct reports have to go.

Then, of course, there is the moronic HR manager. What century is she living in? Such toadying behavior would be laughable if it weren’t so harmful to morale. She should also be fired before she can do any more damage. She’s not a strategic partner; she’s a strategic liability.

And finally, there are all those executives who left. The letter notes that they departed not for retirement, but to take better opportunities. Thank goodness they did (although I feel sorry for the companies they joined). They obviously support the kind of corporate culture that’s been much in the news lately. As many of us have experienced, it’s defined by a miasma of executive entitlement and “me first and only me” management. It is corporate America’s version of Marie Antoinette’s infamous dismissal, “Let Them Eat Cake.”

Not surprisingly, such boorishness undermines both the commitment and the performance of those of us these corporate grandees are supposed to lead. And until the Boards of Directors in America’s companies root them out, employee detachment and “do just enough to get by” attitude will be their companies’ just dessert.

Thanks for reading,
Visit me on Career Fitness.com