5 things corporations completely misunderstand

I’ve been out of the corporate world for almost a year now and this has allowed me time to look back into what exactly goes wrong in certain corporations with regards to their relationships with their employees. And while there are a great many things former employees might tell you is wrong with the corporation they won’t leave, I’m going to try to nail it down to 5 meta-things. By meta I mean ideas and terms that have a domino effect if implemented/understood wrong. So here it goes:

1. The definition of proactivity

Proactivity in its ACTUAL definition means to be aware of the fact that you are in charge of how a certain stimulus affects you. Proactive thinking is the opposite of reactive thinking, which basically means that you have no control over how a certain event influences you. A proactive thinker will think a traffic jam means more time to reflect on his goals or alternate routes for the future (or he realizes there is enough time for Bohemian Rhapsody to end without him having to sit in the car for a good 5 minutes). A reactive thinker will simply get annoyed at the traffic jam, because that is the normal reaction to a traffic jam.

So what in the name of dictionaries and self-development books do corporations think being proactive means? Even they are not sure. But from what I can gather, it involves a lot of “pick me for this task, boss” attitude, which is NOT a proactive attitude. This kind of attitude shows a whole host of other traits such as eagerness, ass-kissing for that raise or lack of experience because you’re a junior and want to get noticed, without a second thought as to what you’re getting yourself into.

2. The importance and use of a company culture

Corporations fall into 3 categories, 2 enormous ones and an outlier. The 2 enormous ones contain corporations that either have a company culture in place but hire people which represent the opposite of their values and the ones that have a cult, rather than a culture, in which you actually expect to be fired (or worse), for not adhering to any and all values and creeds and beliefs and so on. The outliers of course are the companies which have decent values, which are explained in detail and the management actually hires people who fit into the company culture.

As for the use, well…let’s just say I’ve seen corporations who only have the values because they’ve read it in a book. Company values are useful because they help you as a company decide what you stand for and what you want the people you hire to stand for and believe in…in normal amounts.

3. The importance of putting employees first

It’s like Richard Branson said. If you take good care of your employees, they will take good care of your customers. But if you treat your employees like what you wipe of your shoe, you really have to have a highway long amount of nerve to actually ask them to be nice to your customers. They don’t care about your customers and they will certainly not care about the image they project to them about your company if they are treated badly.

4. The importance of having an answer to WHY the company exists

Simon Sinek has a book called Start With Why. And while it’s way too Apple oriented for my taste, the ideas in it are genuinely good. If a company doesn’t have a purpose in this world (other than money), it will only attract people who have no direction and are only in it for the money. Results are important, but you always have to remember WHY you exist as a company. Having that answer will attract people who believe in the same goal as you and will yield greater results since the people who are working in your company believe in the same thing as you do, and motivation will always be there.

5. The values of employee input and transparency

Ever been to one of those All Employee Meetings where the CEO always tells you that everything is fine, even though the project you’re working on sucks the life out of you and people around you are fleeing the sinking ship faster than people claim they’ll leave their country because of who is leading it? I have, and it’s pathetic. Corporations who don’t allow employees to have a say and who don’t listen to them will end up losing them. I’m not saying to give every detail to everyone, but always claiming everything is fine when it clearly isn’t is bad for business, because it won’t motivate anyone to improve the things which are actually damaging the company.

While these aren’t necessarily all the things that go wrong in corporations, I feel that a basic understanding of human interactions (and overused terms) is vital to the success of any and all relationships and businesses. Sadly though, this will probably always get lost in translation between all of those managers telling you how good their business is going while you’re handing in your resignation.

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