The “Double Secret” Handbook for bad Executives goes over the top

I couldn’t believe this chapter when I read it! It was inserted between the pages of an employee policy manual. Someone had really gone through the book with a red marker, crossing out paragraph after paragraph and inserting notes galore. Scrawled in large print on the last page were the words, “Stop me before I change policies again!”

Chapter 8 Changing the Attitude of Ingratitude

Whoever said that high turnover isn’t good for a corporation? It’s good to be rid of those ingrates. Sure you’ve cut back on hiring and salary increases, trimmed benefits, outsourced and off-shored everything one could to increase profits (and executive bonuses). So what if the traitors have left in droves for greener pastures. You never needed those selfish malcontents anyway. Let the organization pare itself down. Now you can selectively restock the shelves with employees who are true believers in the brilliance of the decisions made by you and the other anointed leaders. Perhaps you don’t even need to replace them at all. You can easily get by with a reduced staff of hard working company patriots. If threats and fear no longer seem to be working, you just need to make those remaining loyalists feel secure, necessary and important – at least until you’re finished with them anyway. Let’s face it. Someone has to do the work

There are a few neat and relatively low-cost gimmicks that can work wonders by convincing your core workers that they work for a great company and actually have a voice and a stake in its success. Psychology works wonders with your kids. It will work with your employees as well. Help them help you turn them into committed zealots.

Solicit Unsolicited Testimonials
If you have a company newsletter or website, it’s time to showcase those employees who really appreciate all that the company has done for them. Take Terry for example. He’s the executive administrative assistant for the new Senior VP of Marketing. Terry’s been on board for six months and has followed his boss around to four companies during the last eight years. There’s an example of pure loyalty. Terry’s been involved in the color-coding of the office staplers project and even headed the “Name the CEO’s new goldfish” contest. He’s a real “go getter”. He always gets the deli order correct for the executive staff luncheons and never forgets that you like your tuna fish sandfish on whole-wheat instead of rye.

Have HR write some human-interest stories about Terry complete with a testimonial about how wonderful a place this is and what a great boss Terry has. Maybe even arrange for Terry’s daughter to be awarded a company paid scholarship to the college of her choice. Magnificent! This is a great teaching tool that will encourage the rest of the rabble to stay focused and loyal.

Use Selective Propaganda
Your company needs to state that it is committed to keeping its employees informed about the travails of the marketplace. There’s a world of useful information out there just for the taking. Salary and benefits surveys are always available for use in comparing your company to others. A little good-hearted and careful massaging of the statistics here and there can result in your company scoring in the top percentiles for employee friendliness when compared to industry or geographic data. We all know how poorly the workers are paid in Taiwan and how bad the health benefits are in Bangladesh. Don’t use Europe. Those employees get too much vacation and too many days off! Publish your findings frequently. Your employees need to be bombarded with how good they actually have it – even if there are only a few of them left. Hell, most of them don’t know the difference between the mean, median and mode anyway. It’s all well intended. They’ll feel better.

Conduct Employee Attitude Surveys
Now! Now! Don’t be afraid. We don’t really mean what the heading implies. There are attitude surveys and there are attitude surveys. We’re certain that you have a pal or two in the consulting business. Just explain to them that you’re convinced that your employees have a great attitude about the firm and you want to validate that fact. Good consultants might not be able to arrange for the survey results to tell you what you want to hear but wealthy ones will. Shop carefully as you would for a trial lawyer or PR firm. Publish the flattering results and voice your pleasant surprise and appreciation. Employees will eat this up!

Form Employee Values Teams
Here’s a gimmick that’s currently in vogue with a lot of companies in the same shoes as yours. The trick here is to form teams of employees to define the “values” of your corporation. Sure, you already know what the values are – but they don’t. You’ll need one of your most loyal, naive and starry-eyed minions to head up the program, someone who’s both charming and convincing. Make certain that the focus of the values teams is always centered on the “customer”. Your employees need to concentrate on the customer and forget about their own paltry needs and desires. Charter each team to come up with a list of values that they can identify with and affect through their behaviors. They need to be steered into defining those values in terms of providing “world class” service and ‘competitive” prices.

It’s perfect! Publicize those values and stress the fact that the employees themselves have defined them. What better way to gain everyone’s buy-in! Better customer care means harder work. Better prices means lower costs. (Heh, Heh, we all know what that means!) Hey, it’s the employees’ own ideas after all!

You see it’s not at all disingenuous, sneaky or underhanded. You’re a great leader in a dynamic organization. The remaining employees just need to understand that and not leave until you’re ready to cut them loose.

Hold on a minute! Your old frat brother Chad is on the phone. He still owes you one for trimming a few strokes off of his scorecard at the last business school alumni golf outing. He’s got an opening for you at his company. He’s offering nearly one and a half times your salary and almost twice the bonus. Get packing. You’re out of this low class dump. It’s a sinking ship and an unappreciative sweatshop. The sooner the better!

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2 Responses to “The “Double Secret” Handbook for bad Executives goes over the top”

  1. Kevin Carson Says:

    “If threats and fear no longer seem to be working, you just need to make those remaining loyalists feel secure, necessary and important – at least until you’re finished with them anyway.”

    I believe it’s called Fish! Phlosophy.

    It speaks volumes about the respective motivation of senior management and production workers (as seen by senior management, anyway), that multi-million dollar compensation packages are regarded as necessary to elicit genuine effort from a CEO; but the only thing needed to squeeze more effort out of fewer production workers with stagant pay, is some kind of demeaning, manipulative “motivational” program. Apparently they think we’re stupid enough to be taken in by the smarmy Hallmark Cards bullshit in the mission, vision, and values statements, but CEOs are smart enough to need bribes to keep them from screwing over the shareholders.

  2. thecorporatecynic Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Kevin. Here’s a link to a great post concerning the subjects of fish (not the philososphy or book) and organizations that I find very appropriate: http://www.thepracticeofleadership.net/2006/12/03/fish-rot-from-the-head-down-as-do-organisations

    Come back anytime. You’re always welcome.

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