Just like you, I was fed up with politics. I was in a job I loved that was being made much too difficult by people playing games.
I wanted to do a great job. Was that too much to ask?
Let’s find opportunities. Help me help you be awesome. Let’s create great things together. These were my wishes.
Put unnecessary roadblocks in my way. Take longer than needed. Make sure your back is covered. This was my reality.
Tired of it, I did something bold. And I was a bit scared.
I went to my computer opened up MSWord. And on a single page I typed out in big bold letters,
“This is my company and
I’m not going to let you screw it up.”
Then I made a bazillion copies and after work when most everyone had gone home, I plastered them all over the office.
In the hallways, near the printers, in the bathrooms – even the ones I shouldn’t have gone into – in well trafficked cube lanes, even near manager offices that I thought needed to see the message.
The next morning it was interesting to watch everyone’s reactions. Some were disgusted.
“How dare they! Who did this?”
But most reactions were very positive.
“It’s about time!” some would say.
And I just kept quiet for the first few days as people kind of settled in on their opinion and what it meant to them – were they for it or were they against it? What I found is that many people had a dual personality. If their boss didn’t like it, they would outwardly, mildly agree with their boss.
“Ya. That’s a bit over the top. That’s not necessary.”
But secretly they agreed. They would even copy it and post it other places and take it to other remote office locations – all undercover and after hours.
And then there was trying to guess who it was that did this hairy, audacious act. Everyone wanted to know for different reasons. Those who didn’t like it wanted that person to be shamed. They knew that this person hadn’t done anything wrong or broken any rules, but they wanted that person to feel their full weight of their displeasure.
After a few days I did admit that it was me. From some people I got some good scowls while walking down the hall. Others gave me high-fives.
Thankfully, the high-fives outweighed the shame and those shamers backed down.
Suddenly, people were talking about the elephants in the room. What was off limits before was now out in the open. And things started to improve.
But it would not have happened unless I was willing to be fired.
What I learned:
It is amazing the change you can make when you act is if you are willing to be fired.
If you want to engage your employees, create an environment where they can be bold. Where they can challenge the status quo. Where they can easily do the right thing without fear of political retaliation.
So now go, my friend…
Be bold (but not overbearing). Go do the right thing, even if it is unpopular. It will turn out right in the end. And almost always it will be much better.