“Corporations are benevolent dictatorships, not democracies.”
A good friend of mine recalls hearing this quote some years ago. An important staff meeting had just ended and employees were venting at the water cooler. The meeting was apparently one of those invited gatherings where ‘the welfare of stakeholders’ and ‘the breaking down of silos’ blah blah both had top billing.
Alas, it can be a rude awakening to realize that teams, divisions and the corporate entity itself are often NOT big happy families where decisions are made by ’empowered’ employees and then implemented by mutual consent.
One of the reasons I’m writing a book on self-coaching for (IT) people in career transition, is to offer tools for surviving, and maybe even thriving, in these types of organizational environments during their ‘escape from wage slavery.’
(Note that this does NOT mean handing in your notice and then living hand-to-mouth for the rest of your life. I prefer to see career change as a spectrum of possibilities and timeframes at which you take aim.)
With the ‘benevolent dictatorship’ imagery in mind, I would encourage you to read David Brady’s post on “Loyalty and Layoffs“, and especially the comments. (He wrote a number of followup posts to clarify his thinking about loyalty and trust towards an employer/corporation. Start with the post I linked to.)
Once you’ve read it, try this:
For employees: to what degree are you loyal to your employer? To your manager? To your coworkers? To your firm’s products and customers? And where does trust fit into these relationships?
Early in my career path I found it easier to be loyal (in the sense of duty and honour), than to trust.
Subsequent events vindicated that approach for me and morphed into a career affirmation that goes:
“Your career is your own and you form it.”
More about that approach in the book.