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… Employment becomes a spectator sport.

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Badconsultant is paid to observe.

[and clarify, and diagnose, and treat, and re-observe, and re-clarify, and re-diagnose, and re-treat. A separate statement of work can be requested for each stage – or if you’d care to purchase the bundle, very special rates can be negotiated]

We love observing.

Modern corporations are good to observe. Funny. Hilarious. And, if we were a windswept victorian heroine, we would also add the words desperately, crushingly, horribly, horribly sad. But, as we mentioned earlier, there is money to be made in the observation, clarification, diagnosis and treatment of WhateverCo Inc.

So, for us, corporations and the ants therein are an endless stream of high-paying, productivity-enhancing spectator sport moments.

And that’s fine.

For us.

But when it’s your employees that begin to feel that way, you’re already on the slippery slope to financial ruin.

Stop. Listen to that sound. It’s your conceit running out the door.

See, many executives truly believe that as soon as a paycheck is in the mail, their work in engaging employees is done. People who are getting $$$ just love to come through the door each morning and put up with every piece of s*** that’s thrown at them.

[Compensation frameworks that never fail to motivate are a noted speciality of]

And when they suddenly hear that some colleagues may actually be skeptical about the corporation, the division, department, work-group, team, etc. it often can be a sudden, and rude, awakening. Because they truly did NOT see it coming. Ah, the blindness of the C-suite.

Yet many, many employees have turned employment into a spectator sport – despite the constant media hype about unemployment and the risks of being “ALONE IN AMERICA WITHOUT HEALTHCARE” (®) – many employees are simply turning up, drawing a paycheck and watching the shenanigans like it was bad TV.

In most corporations, executive maneuvering is like The Golden Girls… on acid.

[Only there wouldn’t be any girls involved – that would assume diversity in the C-Suite and, no matter how much we may bill to show how that could be achieved, the likelihood of finding a senior female – who isn’t in HR – remains abysmal]

Conservative estimates put the ‘spectators’ at anywhere between 20% and 80% of the organization.

Pause. Watch that conceit run down the road.

Here are three facts that, unless you truly are remarkable, are true in your organization:

  1. You are paying people to be pissed off at you
  2. They do the minimum work necessary to avoid getting fired
  3. They piss off everyone around them
  4. And its not their fault… It’s yours

It’s that last one that’s the kicker, isn’t it?

You see, if you hadn’t noticed, despite the media hype, despite the prevailing myths, despite the pages of business press

[and gifted consultants]

persuading you otherwise, the days are gone where employees were expected to feel lucky to have you, lucky to be considered worthy to draw a paycheck with regularity. If you hadn’t noticed, you lost the war for talent. It happened a long time ago, you’ve just been finding it hard to retrieve your head from the sand. Were we needing to press home the point, we would make many further ostrichian metaphors.

[inventing words like ostrichian is fun]

What we’re about to suggest is a little scary. It may shift you from your comfort zone. For some of you it may even be a paradigm shift.

Walk the shop floor of your corporation. Do not announce your visit. Do not make a big deal of it. Walk the floor. And talk with people. And listen to people. Take their suggestions. Encourage them to be honest. Listen, listen, listen. But all the time, keep your peripheral vision open to the people who aren’t talking with you. Those who don’t walk up and say ‘Hi!’ Don’t watch them. Just be aware of them. And later, when you’re in your office. Pause. Close your eyes. Breathe. Think about your time on the shop floor. Forget the people you spoke with. You will always be able to recall what they said.

[And, if not, we would be more than happy to provide a statement of work, covering the setup and delivery of focus groups aimed at gathering that data into a nice powerpoint slide deck that you can claim is very important and then proceed to ignore]

Instead, focus on your intuition. If your gut is screaming that you felt like a show camel being paraded in front of a visiting bedouin tribe, if it’s yelling that you felt like a reality tv star dropping by to say hello to your fan club convention, if it’s traumatized because you felt like a bottle of vodka dropping into the 12th step of an AA program, you’ll know that your employees have turned employment into a spectator sport.

And the moment that’s happened, you know your productivity, profitability and future success are in significant jeopardy.

So that’s Step One: Observation. In the next installment, we will cover Step Two: Clarification.

As a primer, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who do you watch in your company?
  2. What are you waiting for them to do?
  3. Why is it what they do next so important?

These, and other critical questions, will be our subject matter when we return after this commercial break.