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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Lives are a Dilbert Cartoon

Sent from a cranky co-worker.

My life is a Dilbert cartoon ~ Eccentri City
So, Cranky and I work at the same place and I forwarded this for “collaborative analysis”.

15 Signs Your Workplace Is Dysfunctional

We were surprised to find out that, there is not ONE of the 15 signs that does not apply. We thought we could cratch off at least a few. Surely it isn’t that egregious. But alas, each of the 15 signs is prevalent. Here’s how it goes down with each in our workplace:

Sign No. 1: Conspicuously posted vision or value statements are filled with vague but important-sounding words like "excellence" and "quality."

Here’s out team’s mission statement:
“We lead and execute programs to ensure [our business’] sales, service and support teams are “business ready” for products and services by:
· Seeing the road ahead
· Role call
· Manage Whales and Fish
· Build our strengths”
“Business ready”? Sounds nice and vague. I know for a fact we can hardly see an inch in front of us let alone the “road ahead”. And you know there is a problem when including sea life in your mission statement. Anybody hungry for some Ivar’s?

Sign No. 2: Bringing up a problem is considered as evidence of a personality defect rather than as an observation of reality.

Cranky and I can’t iterate how many times we’ve heard “oh, that information isn’t published yet barring this and that”. Moreover, if you talk real and bring up big problems and ways to fix them besides the “ignore it and it will go away” technique, you are a major douche bag for rocking the boat.

Sign No. 3: If by chance there are problems, the usual solution is a motivational seminar.

We just had another team “onsite offsite” (codename for “too cheap to have a real offsite) full of motivational crap. We have a team mascot and loads of coffee mugs, cheesy awards and other trinkets galore to make up for the fact that there is little to no true leadership or direction. Sorry guys, overuse of symbols in a crappy environment only make us feel like Nazis.

Sign No. 4: Double messages are delivered with a straight face.

Here’s a great philosophy where we work. Let’s take on every program that is shoved to us. Then reduce our remit after over-performing and piss everyone off. Then let’s hire vendors to do, well, sit around and look like vendors. Hey, they can work a little bit though and help us work on projects that track projects that are projects for tracking projects. Leadership + true motivation = results. We have neither inputs, so not surprisingly, no results.

Sign No. 5: History is regularly edited to make executive decisions more correct, and correct decisions more executive than they actually were.

Sweet! Our last scorecard measured us as a 4 out of 5! Never mind our recent first iteration of a scorecard is a lame survey to internal partners. And never mind only a tiny fraction of our projects were actually surveyed. Oh, and ask Cranky about fudging numbers for his reports to make his boss seem completely overworked and in need of more empire.

Sign No. 6: People are discouraged from putting things in writing.

I’m not even mentioning who I am or where in the company I work. And this is a private blog. Still, I’m a little freaked. Imagine how I feel at work trying to write genuine and honest emails.

Sign No. 7: Directions are ambiguous and often vaguely threatening.

Director paraphrase: “Okay everyone, we have a new remit that reduces the scope of your already ambiguous role. However, the new remit is just as ambiguous. So now, instead of an open-ended ambiguity that allowed you to add value were it was needed, we now are restricting that so you can be confused and not add appropriate value at the same time. I am also not going to adequately communicate this out to our partners. Oh, and I am also very passive so I am expecting you to plow the road from the bottom up because I don’t want to deal with it.”

Sign No. 8: Internal competition is encouraged and rewarded.

“Encouraged” is an understatement. Internal competition is built into the system. Moreover, depending on your luck, you can be an apple compared to a basket of other fruit. Ultimately, those unable to thrive in a nepotistic, dishonest environment don’t get a good grade.

Sign No. 9: Decisions are made at the highest level possible.

I spend more to reviewing, approving, obtaining sponsorship, re-reviewing, re-approving, etc. than I do actually getting any work done.

Sign No. 10: Delegating means telling somebody to do something, not giving them the power to do it.

Cranky has this problem especially. You may have seen his posts about Dash-Trash. Increasingly, due to disorganization and mismanagement, Dash-Trash folks are increasingly being asked to drive things they should not be driving, and given no authority to do so. Good luck with that.

Sign No. 11: Management approaches from the latest best-seller are regularly misunderstood to mean what we're doing already is right on the mark.

Yeah, I am sure that all of our projects to track projects that track projects would really impress a bad adjunct MBA professor, but the folks who write good management material would be mortified to see their matter miss-used in such way. But it’s okay, because these projects have really cool names in all caps like FOCUS and FORWARD. I feel like we are raising the bar with those alone!

Sign No. 12: Resources are tightly controlled.

I would say this is the sickest dysfunction where we work, because they will actually hire vendor people then assign them little or no work just to build an empire, but we can’t even get webcams for remote meetings.
· Paying a group of vendors a lot of money to misguide to augment the disorganization of our hectic, mismanaged environment so we can justify our jobs and build empires – APPROVED
· Cheap webcam to increase meeting productivity with a plethora of remote partners – DENIED.

Sign No. 13: You are expected to feel lucky to have a job and know you could lose it if you don't toe the line.

Surprisingly, our team has lost few during the last four rounds of layoffs. Management has done a great job of keeping everything so ambiguous as to what we do, executives are afraid. We may be a core cog, or not (we’re actually not), but they just don’t know. Yet, with all the lay-offs, we are meant to feel lucky we are even here. No matter. We are reducing through attrition anyway with at least one person a month either transferring or quitting for a start-up.

Sign No. 14: Rules are enforced based on who you are rather than what you do.

Here, you are either in the nepotistic clique, or you are not. Moreover, if you build the rules, you can break them if you get emotional or wound up, or feel the need to screw everything up to make you job look more important i.e. Cranky’s boss.

Sign No. 15: The company fails the Dilbert Test.

At the lower levels, we can laugh about all of this. But we are very secretive with our humor.

When management can’t laugh at themselves, you are in a bad org.

There are a number of Dilbert cartoons online that really nail the dysfunctional organization. Check these out:

Dilbert: Steaming Pile of Failure
We work on steaming piles of failure for a living. But come management 1:1 time – everything is FANTASTIC! Discomfort with honesty and truth is a huge sign of dysfunction.

Dilbert: Bold New Strategy
Our organization has had so many major “restructures” that we don’t even pay attention any more. If you asked me, I could not actually tell you where I was in an org chart past the functional level. But every time it happens, we get an email about how strategic and good for the company it is. I have a special email rule for these – divert to Junk folder.

Dilbert: Impossible Goal
Hey, presenting really well with PowerPoint pomp about goals that are impossible is how you get ahead here. By the time it all fails you have either been promoted, or at least made a lateral move.

Dilbert: Bungee Boss
I’m on my third boss in less than a year. It’s all good though, because I am still “dotted line” to my previous bosses. My org structure feels more like a funnel than a pyramid.


Hope all of you Cranky readers feel just a little better now knowing you don’t work where we do.

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