Monday, August 30, 2010

I vote for Hurley

I recently learned that a former colleague, X was terminated. I was unhappy to hear that his organization's Upper Management had taken that step and I was further unhappy to hear that X may fight this.

I knew They had been unhappy with X for some time. A long time. I knew X had been unhappy, too.

But here's the thing in an organization that claims to be able to terminate at will: the reams of documentation you need, the support from the Stratosphere (it's chilly up there too) can be daunting. And to get that documentation you need clients and staff to be able to say with certainty: X was doing a lousy job on a specific date. And you have to use specific language: X did not fulfill his duties as a Whatever when he arrived late for meetings 5 times this year. X did not contribute to the Newsletter in a timely way. X does not give or accept feedback to his colleagues in a constructive way.

Ultimately X looks like a blot on the organization.

But what if these complaints have been slightly engineered? What if the meeting times were changed at the last minute and X was in no position to check his Outlook calendar? What if the guidelines and deadlines for the Newsletter were not clear?

What if this had been happening in such a way so that X was completely discouraged from asking questions about how things should happen, so that he could not get honest feedback? What if X had been put in progressively more uncomfortable situations at work, afraid to ask for help and with no one in his corner? What if X had been set up to fail?

What would you think of an organization that operated that way? I wish X had left on his own steam. I am not sure fighting Them and the Stratosphere is going to help. I think this economy is leading more and more organizations to shuck off the employees they think will be a liability, a drag, a drain on precious resources. The shucking process never seems fair to the one who was terminated, and often to onlookers.

Okay, what does this have to do with the title of my post? I have been watching Lost for a while, catching up intensely with the show thanks to Netflix. With interest, I've watched the power struggles between the doctor, Jack--who immediately takes command at the start--and Locke, who by virtue of his wilderness savvy gets some leadership props too. They sort of share command at times.

Anyway, and I don't think there are any spoilers here: it all depends upon who you believe in. Do you believe in Jack's rational and scientific approach? Do you trust his judgment? Do you believe in just letting go and letting Locke do his thing? Who do you follow?

If you believe X's organization is doing what's best for everyone, then X has to go. If you don't, maybe your solution would be to encourage X to find another organization or to start his own. But what makes you make that decision?

If you're Hurley, however, you do your own thing and you just want to be happy and make sure everyone else is okay with it. That's me right now. X, you and me dude, we'll just hang out together, catch some fish, enjoy the sunset.

Later I'll muse more on organizations and what to look for when deciding for whom to work.

Just sayin', dude.

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