By Carrillo Pinto
1) The existence of a company culture
Every boss in order to give weight to his position and be above his subordinates will always insist on the existence of a corporate culture, which of course, everyone should adhere to. The big question is, what is corporate culture? Which of course, the boss does not have a precise answer, but rather a vague “We are not accustomed to doing these things” … “Here things are different” … “The Policy of the company is not doing this in such a manner ” … However, just around the corner, something bad happens that is similar to what had recently occurred and it is worse. It is clear that “There are always exceptions”…
Here, the objective of the boss is to make it clear that he is above his subordinate and that he also has confidential information that he cannot share with the employee; he will lie, as he is only trying to have his subordinate follow his orders.
2) This is the man
In every organization there has always existed an elite group that the majority of the time has emerged not so much because of talent but for mutually agreed upon self protection. Every private club tries to stress its existence and its indispensability in a particular person. This individual is very popular in the company and even approves or disapproves the decisions that the elite take within a company. He does not have to be the CEO or CFO, and he could be the general manager or even a human resources executive. This individual with a cultic aura that everyone worships is very clear on the destiny of the company. In his hands lies the fate of the company when it comes to future decisions regarding management, marketing, advertising and above all, downsizing in coming months. This individual does not have the capacity to hire or fire at will but represents the fear or the incapacity of the rest of upper management to take the company forward. The elite see him as their only salvation, not so much for the future of the company but to protect their positions.
This individual is protected and whoever opposes him does not have the vision of the company or is shaped by the company’s goals. In other words, the person defying him is seen as being in opposition within the company, and in not accepting this individual’s extraordinary influence and authority, he must be eliminated.
3) We go by the book
Every boss with a poor and empty imagination, will always try to underestimate his subordinate on certain topics or corporate areas, and one of the most common ways is by the knowledge of the game rules, or to say, “I know all the corporate rules and regulations and you do not” and the first thing he will state is that “I go by the book”. But, as time goes by, one sees that this boss not only does not go by the book but only the rules that are in his favor. He is confident that someone has his back when he states he goes by the book. He has the luxury of humiliating the rest of the employees because he is certain that someone will protect him if he is threatened.
The problem is that the employee needs the work. For a period of time, he thinks that his managers are right and must to do as they say. They must know the corporate rules and regulations and he doesn’t. The question is what are the rules?
4) I am a passionate person
Every company aims to make their employees think that one of the essential requirements to survive in the company is to have lots of passion for everything one does. That is how upper management presents itself, it tries to make the rest of the personnel think that what led them to such positions of power was their passion for the company, but that is nothing further from the truth. There is a huge gap between upper management and the rest of the personnel. To even reach upper management, “You would need a chromosomal composition similar to mine, with incredible passion and you will never be able to reach it”. “Don’t even try it”.
All these silent dictums are tacitly supported by human resources with the objective to make it clear that they are there to only serve their bosses who are a privileged and talented few and are completely separate from the rest of the company personnel. Their talents and abilities make a difference and justify their positions and salaries. I deserve what I make because you are not me, I’m better than you, I belong here, you belong over there, we are not the same.
5) Human resources defends the rights of the company
Once one is hired, upper management makes sure that one understands that the human resources department’s objective is to protect and defend the company’s interests. In the beginning, this seems very logical but once time has passed, one realizes that what the human resources department pursues is nothing more than to obey the ruling elite club’s directives starting with the CEO and ultimately, “God”, the company’s Messiah.
The message is always sweetened, not in a memo, nor from the company bulletin board, nor in a newsletter, but in a tacit and implicit mandate from the CEO to the head of human resources. The rights of the employees are of little value when it comes to personal interests of the boss. To them, the head of human resources violates all the company rules with the objective of gratifying his boss and just to keep and secure his job. This is another way that shows how the company principles are broken and that the mission statement is just something that hangs in a picture frame in the company hallway.
6) The company sponsors vacation
Rest is essential for every employee. One should rest and recuperate so that one can return to work and produce according to expectations. Nonetheless, upper management does not see it this way when it comes to their vacations. They see themselves as exempt from company policy and take their vacations when they want them and when they are most needed by the company. How can this occur? Very easily, human resources aid them. Human resources does not work for the company but for this elite club that has power of the company and is there not to serve the rest of the employees but to satisfy the whims of its bosses.
Irresponsible vacations are one of the first signs that appear in a runaway management. Not only are they doing this but also going on company paid lunches, happy hours, and other unnecessary costs paid for by the company. Ultimately, the employees end up paying for these costs in one way or another. Upper management never pays for the abuses committed by their peers but the employees always pay for the consequences caused by their irresponsible bosses. Layoffs are followed in order to compensate the outcomes of these decisions.
7) We are the owners
As time passes, employees become accustomed to the company culture and its policies. They grow to believe that the elite club that manages upper management are the company owners and not employees like the rest of them. They make decisions with the confidence and arrogance of company owners rather than company executives.
The problem is not so much the abuse of power by upper management but that they believe their own lie, effectively, that they are the owners of the company. It could be that one of them is very closely connected to the true owners of the company and this makes them think that they are one of the owners. But, in reality, they are just one more employee even though they may have been part of the founding of the company.
8) Someone has to pay for the broken dishes
Every boss makes sure that is clear that will always be consequences for an error made or a corporate loss. They are always looking for a scapegoat or someone that will be made responsible. They begin with a succession of warnings to the employee and they make sure they cover their backs rather than find a solution.
As soon as a problem detonates, the boss will make sure someone is held responsible for the problem and makes sure they are aware of it. He is aided by human resources and this is where the vicious circle becomes more complicated. Bad decisions made by the executives of the company are supported by the human resources in order to protect their own jobs. The question is what about the objectives of the company? It does not matter; the executives are the first to cover their necessities at the expense of the real necessities of the company. Clearly, someone has to pay for the error made. The employee is terminated, the boss appears to be the savior of the company, and he is nothing other than someone who strictly follows the rules of the company, in this case, the company’s culture.
9) We are eternal
Upper management, with the support of human resources will be tasked to make it clear that they belong to a superior group, not so much because of capacity or knowledge, but for the ability of remaining eternally in the company. With the passage of time, the message is clear, “I have seen many come and go, if you do not do as I say, you will be next”. The elite leadership is responsible for emphasizing how special they are and how much the company needs them.
This small group is prepared to face all sorts of obstacles that may get in its path. To pass a bad bargain, they are ready to hold responsible the weakest, someone that does not have the capacity to remain at the company eternally, one who is not part of the secret pact with human resources, someone who is not part of the gospel that they preach.
The idea is to make it clear that the privileges that employees enjoy respond to real elements and they have “earned them” due to lots of work and dedication; the club will always try to justify its superiority by running over the 99% who have no oxygen to breathe and therefore fight back, the idea is to drown them slowly with the objective being that they cannot respond.
10) We are an organization. The progression of the corporate culture…
In the beginning, everyone are employees of a company, with the exception of the company founders. It is clear that with time as with all companies, the founders start to have a relationship with their company associates and this is when cohesion starts.
a.- Labor fellowship
Every company supports friendship amongst its employees, the idea is to generate a good working environment, but like all social circles, some are always better friends than others.
b.- Formation of a family
Sadly, a misused cliché can generate consequences that will be explained later; the idea of associating a company like a family is not bad, if the family is “functional”. But, that is not the idea in this case, the idea is to form a family to protect itself and to the detriment of the rest of the employees.
c.- Recruitment of representatives
A dysfunctional family cannot act without obstacles in its path if it doesn’t have a back up entity that allows it to act as one pleases and without having to account to anyone. The family tries to influence and sway its most enthusiastic supporters in other departments of the company with the objective of having logistical support for an internal subversion.
This recruitment is provided with two factors, the promise of automatic protection and with the threat of expulsion if they do not stick together. Then they would be considered enemies. This is where the human resources office begins to receive the first allegations. They receive them with deaf ears, as they need to defend the company culture and the executives but not the company. In a few words, they need to protect their jobs.
The family does not grow; it always maintains its aura of exclusivity. But, it generates sufficient ties to be able to face any internal dissent. At this stage, the club that manages the company begins to make more awkward mistakes. This is when they start to listen to their “God”, the one who justifies their hegemony in power.
d.- The advent of the mafia
At the disappearance of the original objectives of the company and mission statement, the company starts to exist in total chaos, not only for irrational expenses that have occurred but also for the decisions made by upper management and its chosen “God”. The same people who are taking the company to the brink of bankruptcy.
In this phase, many representatives of different departments start to take distance from the club even though their jobs are at risk of being eliminated. The club gets closer and they only meet in one office at a determined hour. They speak softly and they are only concerned with their own necessities. Human resources balance decisions to be made in order to protect this exclusive group.
In order to save their positions and not the company, upper management begins to terminate people irrationally with the support of human resources and without any justification; the explanations are vague and always come with a threat. They continue to speak softly and upper management transforms itself into a sect within the company. In a few words, it has become a “mafia” that is nothing more than the new culture of the company, the threat.