“Most of us don’t have the freedom to complain at work…Our Protestant work ethic has blended with contemporary notions of self-actualization to create a situation in which we are all expected to whistle like Disney dwarfs.” – Paul Jaskunas, The Tyranny of the Forced Smile, New York Times, Feb. 14, 2015
An Open Letter to All Employees:
I heard a rumor recently that one of our employees is not happy. I have a hard time believing this is true – it would be the first time in my 19 years at the organization – but just in case I wanted to take a moment to address it. My request is a simple one:
If you’re not happy, please just fake it.
Our mission is so important to all of us that if we took the time to listen, much less respond, to a complaint about what goes on around here we might just derail the entire enterprise. We have proudly operated in line with our values – trust, integrity, collaboration, performance – for as long as I can remember and not one person has said otherwise. That speaks for itself.
If I believed for one minute that someone who works here was unhappy I would have no choice but to encourage that person to find employment elsewhere. Life is too short and your leadership team has worked too hard to create this culture with very little support from the rest of you. I look out and see an empty parking lot at 5:15 every night and I wonder aloud, “Don’t they care? Don’t they care at all?” And when I get home at 9:30, my kids asleep and my spouse well on the way, I am thankful for the opportunity to provide for them. Whatever it takes.
Most importantly, the thought of one of you complaining just makes me uncomfortable, as if we’re doing a bad job. Honestly, it just doesn’t feel good at all! Your leadership team is trained to execute the functions of this business as outlined by the demands of our board, our auditors and our shareholders, in support of which you play a small but essential part. To expect more from us than that is just unrealistic and more than a little selfish.
Lastly, please remember that whenever you point a finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at you.
With appreciation for all you do,