Thursday, 18 July 2013

Inside The Complicated Mind Of The Employee

The Employee speaks:

As I sit down for yet another pointless meeting to discuss issues of 'great importance' headed by your 'messengers', I look around the room and recognise the same bemused expressions etched on the faces of my colleagues. Others have the distinct air of bored indifference. A minuscule percentage - and really about 2% of those present, even in purely statistical terms - look hopeful that perhaps this time the problems would be resolved.

From experience, I know that nothing would be achieved and that this meeting, pushed on by you, the Management, to give a semblance of actually wanting our grievances solved, would end the same way. We would first be told that our suggestions would be taken 'under advisement'. (Who even talks that way anymore?). Then the minutes of the meeting would be emailed to us, (which might only be read by that 2%), and the issues of 'great importance' would be shelved until the next inconsequential  meeting.

Much ado about nothing.

And I for one have stopped caring about, or believing, what you, the Management state or promise that you would do.

Never mind that I work in sales. Co-workers in other departments have similar problems and behind closed doors, during lunches and other 'breaks', we have discussed our issues and have realised that there are several things Management is doing wrong, and has been, for a long time. But we cannot be bothered any more.

I too have stopped caring and here's why:

1) You have shown us that you are incapable of listening


And I mean really listening and understanding our concerns. Not trying to manipulate, coerce or mandate. Not appearing to listen in meetings, such as this one, and then taking no action afterwards. Or worse still: not even pretending to listen. 


I understand that your company is in the business to make money, otherwise it would be bankrupt and I would have no job. I also understand that realistically, not every suggestion or demand we make could be implemented. But credit us with some common sense: we make job-related suggestions in order to become more effective in our roles, so as to increase productivity for you.

You really should keep your ego aside and acknowledge that you do not know it all. You refuse to listen to sound advice that would take your company to greater heights, so frankly why should I care? It's not my family business!

Let's not even talk about my inter-personal complaints, below-industry-average compensation and lack of any organisational support. No, let's not go there...


2) You deliberately deceive and give false hopes

Initially you had said that if my performance reviews were consistently excellent for two consecutive years, that I would be promoted to X position and be given additional perks. That did not happen.

Next, you promised cash incentives to my entire sales unit based on record-breaking sales figures for last quarter, (for which you the Management cannot take the credit as I have been fortunate to work with extraordinary and self-motivated team members). That did not happen either and you have conveniently forgotten the declaration.


Then you convened several meetings to discuss the details for doling out mortgage plans with very low interest rates for select achievers. I would not hold my breath for that as well.



So I cannot trust anything you say and I would now desist from going the extra mile to get the results you desire. In fact, I think I can speak for virtually everyone in sales: we would henceforth do the absolute minimum so as not to be fired. You go do the grunt work yourselves. Good luck with that by the way.


You are not credible so I cannot trust you, defend you or boost your reputation. In fact, I do not wish to be associated with you, beyond the corridors of your company.

Maybe you would learn from the insight of famous playwright/poet/historical novelist, Sir Walter Scott:

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive".

3) You have refused to get rid of bad, ineffective and egocentric managers; supervisors or unit heads

Now I know that you, the powers that be, would prefer to feign ignorance about the numerous complaints made about some of your managers.

You  have  received  official  and unofficial complaints. You have  heard 'whispers' about how Mr. Q  delays re-imbursements of our allowances; how he cuts corners and how he orders some of the sales staff to adopt unethical measures to increase sales, (amid effective threats). You are aware of the fact that when such unethical measures are  unsuccessful, Mr. Q refuses to take responsibility and even denies his involvement.

I know for a fact that because Mr. Q is in your 'inner circle', he is shielded from serious repercussions. And there are other managers in the technical and customer service units, who at best, are incompetent. You run this company like the Mafia!

We have all  understood—and not just my sales unit—that those weak managers, supervisors and unit heads, would not be removed, regardless of the fact that it makes practical business sense to get rid of them. But why should I care? At the rate your company is being run, I'd give it six months, before it begins to haemorrhage vital staff. I can guarantee you that by then, you would lose, at the very least, your brilliant talents in the sales and  technical units. You really do not realise or appreciate their worth, do you? They are all being secretly recruited, interviewed and offered jobs by your competitors; I included.

I know you had once stated, with the confidence of the cat guaranteed its daily cream, that we could all be replaced. But good luck with trying to attract, (and retain), top talents when word gets out about how you treat your employees.

And I would of course sing like a canary when I get out.

4) You are invisible, inaccessible  and completely out of touch with reality


Apart from seeing your picture in the newspapers or reading about your achievements as a business mogul or being 'educated' about your generous donations to different causes, you as the CEO, are inaccessible, invisible and completely clueless about the daily reality of your employees. (By the way, these charitable endeavours are championed at the same time our salaries are slashed or perks cut, to recoup the 'losses' suffered by your company because we did not meet your unrealistic targets).

You listen only to those in your 'inner circle' who have vested interests and who really do not care about your company but enjoy riding the tide of your favour. If you wanted puppets, surely you could afford many inexpensive ones? It amuses me that you think in the long-term, your company would evolve with such well-fed parasites on your payroll.

You also forget something very important: money may buy you people, but only for a season, and not the calibre which would transform your company from the average to the admirable. Perhaps you should get off your high horse and read Jim Collins' eye-opener of a bestseller "Good to Great" and maybe you would get it - without good people, you are finished. Your company is on a downward slope. It may not be evident now but soon, even you—the founder/CEO/visionary or whatever title you have selected for yourself—would wake up from your slumber.

Good luck to you when you do wake up to face the repercussions. I won't be here anyway so that won't be my problem.

In the final analysis...

The voices of your 'messengers', as they reel out detailed nothings about their plans for improvement, jolt me out of my musings, signalling the end of the meeting.

I look around the room once again. Excluding that 2%, who we humourously term the 'eternal optimists' in our lunch-breaks, we are going through the routines. Some, who had been conducting full conversations on their smartphones and other devices since the beginning of the meeting, reluctantly turn their attention back to your 'messengers'. 

So in the final analysis, I am just marking time in your company. In fact, I have 'checked out' mentally.


Until you, the founder/CEO/visionary, become more open to suggestions from your employees, until you change your company culture and replace ineffective and unethical managers, your company will fail to re-invent itself and would soon become irrelevant in the industry.


But you are clueless about that as well. And that is why you'd lose us all...

Blow off steam below. Feel free to vent

So what do you think about  this article? Kindly share your views.

If you are a disgruntled employee, we would love to hear your thoughts, so please post your comments. We promise - you won't get in trouble :-)

Recommended reading



N.B- Images courtesy of First animation courtesy of Second animation courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Vinod Srivastava (via LinkedIn)18 July 2013 at 18:29

    Thanks for nice posting. I like this article.

  2. Many thanks Vinod. Glad you found it interesting.

    Feel free to share your experiences directly on the blog.

  3. Royston Maybery (via Linkedin: University Of Leicester Alumni Group)20 July 2013 at 17:03

    I am an employee. So I am already in 'so to speak' the mind of an employee namely my own. I don't really think it is particularly complicated.

  4. Talal Sabih (Via LinkedIn: University Of Leicester Alumni Group)20 July 2013 at 17:05

    Even though some of the issues described are real in some instances, I have some comments:

    1- Promises from management should be in writing and through a system that is managed by HR/Admin. If the company does not have any of those governance rules, then I fail to see why someone might complain, just resign or be the big boss friend!!

    2- Trust is reciprocal in nature, we might need to look the other way as well and see why the management is not listening, mainly when this is in their favor. Maybe the employee needs to understand how his company works and contribute positively.

    3- I do believe that such companies exist and they are led by individuals and not a system. We need to decide if this is a company we should work for or not.

    Finally, the mind of the employee is complicated only when he he is in the wrong company and fails to see that he should either change his mind-set or the company.

  5. Leif Langley (Via LinkedIn: University Of Leicester Alumni Group)20 July 2013 at 17:08

    Great article!

    You may of heard of it, but in the software world there is something called "The Dead Sea Effect", which you've perfectly described in several of your points. If you Google it you can read about it in more detail, but basically it's all the best and brightest employees eventually leave a poor software company, which leaves behind the very worst who are incapable of finding a job elsewhere, or "salt" if you like.

    The paradox is, as those people leave, the "salt" tend to rise up into management, which leads to point 3 of your article. And although it may take a long time, again as you've mentioned in the article, the company falls into a death spiral, unless somebody like Steve Jobs comes along.

    A recent example of a once innovative company, that once had hundreds of thousands of the best and brightest minds employed was Kodak. No doubt there were many meetings like the ones you've described, where the lowly employee was ignored. No doubt vast bureaucracies formed and chains of command implemented. The CEO picked up a nice fat paycheck every year, thinking all is going well. Now the company is going through chapter 11 bankruptcy.

  6. Hi Royston - Thanks for your comment.

    Depending on the work environment and prevailing culture of the land, not every employee will actually admit what he really thinks of Management for fear of losing his job.

    While as you have stated, your thoughts as an employee are not 'complicated', you might be surprised that some employees prefer to discuss their issues only with colleagues they trust or with others outside the organisation.

    So in that sense, it may be that such musings from a disgruntled employee might come as a surprise to others. This is similar to the situation whereby some employees do not really state their reasons for exiting the company during the 'exit interview'.

    Based on the above, Management may thus find the employee's mind 'complicated' :)

    @ Talal - Thanks for reading. As regards to employees who are disgruntled to simply quit - well it does make sense but some people actually don't have that option, in view to the economic downturn and rise in employment.

    So while the musings of the employee might point to the 'exit' route, he may be conflicted, thereby complicating his thoughts.

    @ Leif - Many thanks for your very interesting comment which I enjoyed reading and the very useful tips about the 'Dead Sea Effect". I shall look it up. Cheers!

  7. Royston Maybery (via Linkedin: University Of Leicester Alumni Group)20 July 2013 at 17:21

    I have been working 42 years now. In almost every interview I have attended claims have been made about how we are a company different to the rest, how we are a family, a team, how we listen, nurture talent, reward performance and the whole train of nonsense. However, I remain polite. I smile and look convinced and accept or decline the offer purely on known wages, conditions and benefits. Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.

    1. It seems Royston, that the strategy you described has worked for you in your long career :-)


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