The Company You Keep

calvinandhobbes

“Company.”

The dictionary defines the word as “a commercial business.”

Wikipedia, as usual, is a bit more verbose:

“A company is an association or collection of individuals, people or “warm-bodies” or else contrived “legal persons” (or a mixture of both). Company members share a common purpose and unite in order to focus their various talents and organize their collectively available skills or resources to achieve specific, declared goals. Companies take various forms such as [a] … [b]usiness entity with an aim of gaining a profit.”

Source: Wikipedia – Company

“Warm bodies?” Holy shit. Wikipedia nails it. Again!

The business manager stormed into the meeting and saw a lot of empty chairs. “God damn it,” he bellowed. “Get me more warm bodies in here!”

Most of us born and bred in the United States wholly swallow – hook, line and sinker – the premise that a company is an organization comprised of human beings with the shared goal of making money, i.e., acquiring profit.

My purpose here today is debate the other point of view, that this concept we’ve so fully accepted is complete and utter horseshit.

To sway you to my argument, I’m merely going to ask you to consider empirical evidence. It’s a simple point I’m going to attempt to make.

Look around you. Look at the things your company does. Really look at them. Study them. Ponder them. Then ask yourself this question: Based on the actions and decisions this company makes, what can we logically conclude is the true objective?

Is it “profit” as we’ve been led to believe?

  • An employee reports wrongdoing within the company and is disciplined and shunned.
  • An incompetent peer is promoted and becomes your supervisor based for reasons other than performance.
  • Management refuses to solicit and consider input from front line employees. Their edicts are rammed through even though they harm the company’s bottom line. The employees who tried in vain to warn against the course of action are forced to clean up the mess.
  • Management plays individuals and departments against each other.
  • Employee suggestions are ignored for the proper period of time then implemented as boss ideas.
  • Employee opinions are solicited for the sole purpose of the company doing the exact opposite.
  • H.R. rolls out a “contest” where employees have the chance to earn random prizes but the game is rigged based on company politics. Prizes are funneled to favorites while outsiders are left in the cold.
  • Productive employees are terminated on the thinnest of ginned-up charges by higher ups.
  • Managers ignore low-hanging fruit in spite of urging by front line employees, choosing instead to go on personal quests of high-hanging fruit so above the trees it has a higher orbit than the International Space Station.
  • Bosses and supervisors take energetic delight in putting unethical activities on full display to subordinates.

My hypothesis is simple:

The #1 objective of companies is to feed the egos of power hungry assholes. Persons higher up the ladder exist solely at the expense of those underneath. Profit, if and when it rises to the level of becoming an actual goal, is always a second (or lower) priority.

Based on what I have witnessed in my career this is the only possible explanation that fits the facts. The good news is that since there is no profit sharing plan, you really don’t have to give a shit. If someone you hate wants to slit their own throat, you get to sit back and enjoy the show.

77% of workers don’t trust the CEO and 61% don’t trust any senior manager.
–Something I Saw On The Internet

Look around your company and ask yourself, “Is management good for the company? Are they helping the best way that they can for the company?” Are the actions and decisions of owners, bosses and supervisors supporting the goal of profit? Or something else?

I’m willing to bet my paycheck the data you collect will surprise you.

Action Item

What empirical evidence have you collected? Please document it in the comments section below.

10 responses

  1. I actually have worked for companies that did pay attention to their employees, and to reality instead of ego.
    Too few companies, but still…

    Like

    1. Don’t tell anyone, but yeah, me too. But these outlier pieces of data do not preclude the truth of my hypothesis.

      Like

      1. No, it doesn’t. And it makes returning to the larger fold of corporate jack-assity that much harder.

        Like

  2. Well, I was going to say the same thing as El Handsome — I’ve been the “higher ups” and the “Executive” and a “Partner” — and I’ve worked for GREAT companies and bad ones. And the good companies take care of their commodity (their workers). It’s also an industry thing too. Working in California for “creative” companies seem to differ from let’s say an insurance company. Eeeh, but I’m preaching to the choir. Clearly…. you already admitted this with El Handsome…so….I guess I’m just checking in and saying “Shalom”….

    🙂

    Like

    1. As a scientist, if you conduct research and experiments and 90% of results support your hypothesis, you get to use words like “overwhelming” and “preponderance.” Those are good times.

      The crown jewel in my career is the time I was also selected and promoted to “management.” Gee, I hope I wasn’t the “incompetent peer” as mentioned in the bullet point above. 🙂

      My employer back then had their share of problems, but still they sent me to a two-week training course to at least teach me the theory of being a good boss. Even if the company culture didn’t actually support the practice of what they preached. I like to think I was the kind of guy most people would like to have for a boss. But I quit that job. 🙂

      I don’t think most bad bosses do it on purpose, but some do. For most, I think, it’s simply the path of laziness and least resistance. Why expend actual effort to do anything beyond the bare minimum?

      In my case, the boss thinks of himself as a good guy. The problem is that his actions are inconsistent with his mouth. He was born without an empathy gene. He then offers platitudes like he’ll never be able to change, he is too set in his ways, etc. What a cop out for treating other human beings like shit. But when you’re the boss you have the right and the power for your idiosyncrasies to hurt people.

      Yes, I have known some good bosses in my time. Just not the last 12 years.

      Like

  3. Well, I don’t work outside the home. TH

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    1. Stupid computer….
      ANYWAY I WAS SAYING BEFORE THE COMPUTER DECIDED TO DO WHAT IT PLEASED……I don’t work outside the home, so the only company I have is my 21 and 25 year old. They are “warm bodied” and “legal”.
      Company bureaucracy is all about that all mighty dollar. They don’t care if it means eliminating jobs, paying China or some other third world country to make or produce, or moving the whole shebang over seas, as long as the upper echelon is still employed, paying the $6000+ a month mortgage on the $1.5 million dollar home, driving the Mercedes or Audio or better, limo, and taking the 3 week vacation to the Caribbean. That’s how I’ve been seeing it. We scream and shout to keep business in the USA. I don’t know how these CEO’s can sleep at night knowing they, too, are contributing to the downfall of this country. And they’re loyal Americans?

      Like

      1. Like I said, I think an amazing number of actions by leadership in companies are diametrically opposed to the stated goal of profitability of the company. Frankly the extend of it amazes me.

        A special meeting of higher ups was held. It was explained that they had two options. One was give themselves a huge bonus that would be extremely detrimental to the long term health of the company. The other option was to take no bonus and shore up the company for the long haul. They then took a vote. It was unanimous. Fuck the company and plan to look for new jobs in about 18 months.

        Breathtaking.

        I think most bosses are just like that.

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  4. This is why the Mister and I do contract work now. I work for myself. I don’t think I’m an asshole.

    I’m also not rich.

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    1. “Rich” is what a young person wants. The beaten down just want a little happiness and a few crumbs from the king’s table.

      Once I traded 40 percent of my compensation for work I thought would be more enjoyable and the opportunity to live in a small town. It turned out I got absolutely nothing in the deal. That hurt. Now I make a wage that’s less than I had in the 1980’s and I’m miserable in my work. That’s a playa making the big moves! 🙂

      I have to agree. You’ve got a great boss. 🙂

      Like

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