Article 51: Sometimes the Game is Rigged!

I know this may not be a news flash to everyone who reads this article but I know a few who just have a hard time accepting the fact that sometimes no matter how much effort you exude, time devoted, or talent given you just cannot win the corporate game. 

We all know the standard corporate “player” game rules:

  1. Work hard
  2. Be diligent
  3. Come early/Stay late
  4. Sacrifice personal time (lunches, breaks, family)
  5. Go the extra mile
  6. Do more than others
  7. Be a team player
  8. Remain productive
  9. Create solutions
  10. Maintain a strong sense of loyalty/dedication

The payoff for abiding by the above 10 commandments are supposed to be:

  1. High value
  2. Outstanding “Far Exceeds” appraisals
  3. Home office backing
  4. Above average increases (Salary/Bonuses)
  5. Praise (Superiors)
  6. Acknowledgment of accomplishments
  7. Voice within area of expertise
  8. Empowerment
  9. Leadership role
  10. Gratitude

Now here is the rub with the above rules and payoff schedule.  The corporate world is feeling the economic crunch just like many of us and they have decided to pull a fast one and alter the rules.  Oh they still want you to play by the above 10 player rules with your loyalty, diligence, sacrifice, etc. but they no longer want to be accountable for their payoff pieces.  The problem is they have kept this change, by and large, to themselves and created a game where now if you do work hard and perform the player top 10 requirements than, at best, what you can expect is not any of the above payoffs but rather a corporate response of contempt, low salary increase and a performance rating of “average”.

Here is what is going on behind the scenes.  Corporate America has been spinning out of control.  Sure there have been budgets, policies and procedures but when the economy takes a longer than average “hit” the cracks in the corporate armor begin to not only show but widen.  So what do corporations do?  Well, first they figure out the highest cost area, which is usually payroll, and then figure out a plan to decrease, at any cost. 

Corporations know that the news media organizations are their best friend. Why?  Because the news feeds and focuses on negativity, down turns and fear.  These media outlets are doing the corporations work for them by keeping the employees on edge and grateful to be employed.  Now all the company has to do is alter their reward/support structure while encouraging those in positions of authority to creatively develop reasons to put employees on warnings or “plan” programs.  These disciplinary files are an extra bonus to the game and can then be used as grounds for termination, when needed.  Nice, huh!

If it wasn’t such a short sided way of thinking I would say the plan was ingenious.  However, this is a classic example of being penny wise and pound foolish because once the economy takes an upward swing these unappreciated, over worked and barely compensated pieces of talent are going to jump ship.  True there are times when streamlining needs to take place but creating a dysfunctional corporate system will never benefit the company, employees or stockholders.  What it will do is create a very deep chasm between the corporate agenda and their work force.  One which will take more money and time than was ever saved in order to recover to a point of true functionality.

The company has the element of surprise or “Ace up their sleeve”, if you will, because you won’t know for sure that the old rules no longer apply until it is annual appraisal time.  Then it will hit you like a ton of bricks.  Many will get angry, some will question their own work ethic, while others will try to figure out ways to do better and have a strong annual review the following year.  The sad truth is most will find out that the card game is still rigged the following year and reap the same low increase, hear unsubstantiated falsehoods and be reminded how they need to do better. 

Like any good card player you must know when to go all in, when to hold tight and ultimately when to move on to another game.  It can seem like a difficult decision to move on, especially if you have a pension, 401K, longevity, or a decent salary.  However, know this if you don’t make decisions which will benefit you and your family than it is just a matter of time before the company will push you to the breaking point and cause you to loose your health, wealth and hope.  Once you begin this downward slide it will take more effort to regain your self esteem, drive and ability to get back on top.

I’m not encouraging anyone to move on too early but once the signs become visible that no matter how hard you work, effort you give or sacrifices you make isn’t enough than you need to realize that you have entered a rigged game and the longer you stay the more you will loose.  The lose will come in the form of potential earnings, peace of mind, self esteem and a positive outlook.  The rigged game is run on the belief of a divide and conquer strategy. Do what you have to, today, and count the casualties tomorrow. 

Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of by those who want you to pay for their past shortfalls, poor management and lack of fiscal responsibility.  There are many companies which run a clean game and welcome those who have the right spirit, work ethic and determination to become more than just a statistic on the hidden corporate agenda sheet!

Jeffrey A. Mohr – Founder
Rdestiny, LLC – Business Consultants