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The Absence of Thinking - The Corporate Sheep

Updated: Feb 11

The number of nonsensical elements organisations have hoarded up in the past decades is just mind-boggling to me and the reason is because people do not think! They believe everything they hear, especially that is comfortable to them, and they copy others regardless if it is suitable for their organisation. I gave a very clear example yesterday. 

This is why you must have critical and strategic thinkers on your teams!

Here are some of the examples that people do that have no evidence for what so ever but we are like a dog on the bone pushing it with full steam ahead:

  • Employee engagement: We have pumped billions of dollars into engagement programs in the past five decades yet global engagement scores remain the same at 15%. At what point do we stop and ask the question "What are we doing?"

  • Return to the office using the "culture" narrative: Dude, not only executives have already admitted that there is no data that supports returning to the office policy but "Employees are spending the equivalent of a month’s grocery bill on the return to the office–and growing more resentful than ever, a new survey finds." The evidence for flexible working is overwhelming yet, they come with a culture slogan which is also highly debated! Because there is no better foundation of your culture than your employees commuting hours a day and spending their hard-earned money to come and see you. Do we have abandonment issues at executive levels that we are so desperate to see everyone every day? 

  • Competency frameworks: There is no scientific proof that you must have certain competencies for you to be successful in a specific role and this applies to the silly "Characteristics for best leaders". Dude, I know leaders who don't have any of those and are killing it. On the other hand, I know leaders who are desperately trying to mimic or acquire the characteristics from these magical lists and are just suffering. If you look at the origins of these lists you realise they are the compilation of wishlists. They might end up in academic papers and HBR's articles but there is no probe into any of those in terms of performance. Have a look at this article. Just because Szilvia would love her leader to behave in certain ways that doesn't mean it will yield in performance. What a flawed logic that is! Using one's natural talent yields performance and not a wishlist combined with Debbie's competency. That is a guaranteed suffering to anyone. Leaders must listen to their employees' feedback and then find ways of meeting their needs but how does that translate to performance when your employees are simply asking don't be an ass and do the job you are paid for? If this is what we are doing the bar is low. In addition, you never read any data or research about the failure rate amongst those who acquired those competencies and adopted those leadership traits. Why not? Now if this doesn't ring the alarm bell in your head you really are not thinking. 

  • Fixing the employees as opposed to the system they operate in and respond to. Oxford University came out with a fantastic finding this year, saying that wellbeing initiatives don't work. Why do I call it fantastic? Because we already know that based on our experiences at work. We knew that organisationally prescribed yoga classes, wellbeing apps, stress management workshops, and monthly cheer-me-up events don't work because they do not address the stressors. Anyone with half a brain would have said it but no. If Siemens, Nike, or Google are doing it we must follow suit without thinking it through. You guys are blindly trusting companies that have been through hundreds of lawsuits:-)) Does it not make you question their ability? 

  • Mindfulness: This is the latest nonsense. Have you noticed that we were mindful until they put the bloody mobile phone, Nextflix, and social media in our hands? You were waiting for the bus, you were mindful. You sat on the toilet, you were mindful. You were waiting for your friends, you were mindful. You went home after work, you were mindful. But today, you direct your mind to be occupied by stupid things and you head to a meditation class. How does it make sense? It doesn't, all these things are about money making and we just go along like good sheep. 

  • Wellbeing: Am I the only one who doesn’t expect organisations to take care of my wellbeing all I want is them not to destroy it. I don’t think this requires action and money spent. However, now that we have “destroyed” the workers we have to invest in wellbeing strategies to restore order. Talking of not thinking of the consequences of our actions. It also implies that if your company is fully riding the wellbeing wave, please tell me about how you got here 😜😜😜. If you say, “No, we really don’t have problems” then you are wasting money. It is like a training budget; the level of incompetence indicates the money you should spend. If you have a competent workforce you need a tiny training budget. Also, if you are proudly shouting how much money you have spent on training my question is, “Did you hire so badly and onboarded a bunch of incompetent people who need extensive training to be able to carry out the job you hired them for? If the answer is no, you are wasting money. THINK!

Once a genius colleague of mine, a senior leader suggested that we adopt policies like Google, Netflix etc. so we have an open leave or expense policy. I just looked at him and asked, "Do you know what is the difference between their workforce and ours in the hotel industry especially in certain regions? IQ and sense of responsibility." I regret saying this because he had no idea what I was talking about and it invited a 30 minutes explanation. During that time I thought that even he was not qualified to handle such policies:-)))

The absence of thinking is striking and scary. We all have the ability to stop, think, and question everything we do and believe. We all do and say things that make no sense at times and when it is called out we get upset. Don't get upset, sit down and think, is that true? Sometimes an idea sounds really good in our head and the moment we express it verbally, in action, or on social media it gets torn apart. That's good because it gets your brain cells going and re-evaluates it. Maybe you are right but maybe you are wrong. As long as you can think that will always be the case. What you must not do is be a sheep and follow things presented to you without questions. 

We cannot perform well without thinking, period.

PS: I am a thinker and a slow one. Sometimes it means that when I hear new ideas in a meeting I look passive. I listen and absorb and I will have 100 questions in two days... Once I start calculating you are done. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:

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