Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Best of Barry: Bureaucracy can kill

Derek used to work at a huge conglomerate. He hated it. He was the George Costanza of the place, hiding under his desk and sleeping during work hours, and in general just didn't care. Sure enough, Derek knew he was screwing off and while he knew that he could try harder, he didn't because it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Then Derek was given a choice by management, retire (with a fair package) or take his chances that they don't lay him off. I urged him to take the package and run, because any company that offers you a package is telling you they would like you to leave. He took the package.

A year later, Derek got back into the job market and hired in at a fast-paced entrepreneurial firm. I told him it would be the most difficult job he ever will have and also very possibly the most rewarding. It has been both. It's tough. The boss knows what's going on. It's internally competitive. They take chances and try to tackle assignments they've never tackled before (they almost always succeed).

And Derek is now viewed as a star--an old one, but a star nonetheless. Why? Because he matters, he counts, he has a value. There's a purpose at that company--doing great work for the customer. At the old place the bureaucracy was boss.

In large corporations, we must fight to make sure bureaucracy isn't boss, that it's kept in the background. Otherwise, we kill the great performances and the people's self-worth along with it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

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