“I don’t know why I’m so mad about this.”
That’s what I told a friend. Deep inside, I knew why. It was May. And our team had finally received goals for our annual review. I can still remember those metrics used to measure us:
– Achieve sales goal
– Submit daily plan
– Complete cost analyses (within 48 hours of request)
– Keep database current
– Come from a place of ‘Yes’
Our manager had sloppily pasted our job description onto our reviews. That way, he could cross another item off his To-Do list. And we wouldn’t hear about these goals again until next year.
It was just more of the same for us. The next review wouldn’t be treated seriously, no different than the others. But I knew how the game was played. When HR requested evaluations, he’d cobble together some vague observations from the past 90 days – or just re-write my self-assessment. Then, I’d get my token half hour, where I’d score high and earn a 4% raise so I wouldn’t complain.
And my boss would always finish with the same advice: “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
In his defense, my boss treated everyone the same way. We were part of the same herd. And we had all hit the ceiling. To our superiors, we were simply plug-and-play commodities who performed a series of tasks. They ignored our ideas, so we quit sharing them. Instead of immersing ourselves in the company, we fueled our creative and professional aspirations outside work. We realized that this was just a job, a means to another end. So we battled each day to pump ourselves up, imagining the day when we’d find an employer who’d unleash our talents.
We were great at our jobs. But we got the message: Our leaders didn’t take the review process seriously…so they didn’t take us seriously. Personally, it hurt knowing I wasn’t among the Hi-Po’s who’d get all the personal attention and coaching. My bosses weren’t writing a development plan for me. I wouldn’t receive the training or travel to gain more skills, experience, and connections. There were no stretch assignments or high profile projects in my future. I’d have to do it all myself – and do it on my own time.
Our reviews revealed more than an employer who didn’t recognize our abilities. It showed us what they truly valued: Cash and conformity. They weren’t worried about tomorrow. They just wanted to keep the money train rolling without interruption. They couldn’t be bothered with what we thought. And anyone who questioned them received the same response: “You can always leave if you’re unhappy.”
We were like 21st century Oliver Twists, poised to be kicked out of the workhouse if we asked for more gruel.
And we all heard that same internal voice: ‘You’re so lucky to still have a job.’ But people want more than to just keep their jobs. The best employees believe they are destined for something bigger. Every day, these employees ask themselves, ‘Will this role help me reach my potential?’ Every day, they evaluate if the trade-off – the effort for the reward – is really worth it. Too often, they come to this conclusion: They don’t see potential in us. They don’t even bother to look for it.
That’s the silent company killer: The failure to bring out the best in employees. They focus on executing tasks and fitting people into boxes, always on guard to stifle anything that might disrupt the status quo. And it’s this mentality that slowly chokes many companies. In their race to get the job done, they forget that the most productive employees are those who are learning, growing, and seeing themselves progress. Their voices are valued. They have a path. As a result, they are force multipliers who give their all.
Read the rest here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffschmitt/2013/05/19/the-silent-company-killer/