Last night I click-clicked on a twitter link and jumped into a tiny rabbit hole. It started with a tweet that twitter promoted to a notification in its infinite algorithmic wisdom. It was a tweet by my ex. Of course I clicked on it because I am only human and he “hasn’t tweeted in a while”. Thanks little birdie. The tweet was a brief comment and a link to an article. The article just happened to be a retort to a different article which was about a company firing a person who they found to be toxic for their company because of their knowledge, expertise, and propensity to solve all problems and take on everything themselves.
I read the target article first to gain a good understanding of the scenario. In short, the employee in question was a “rockstar” who tried to take on too much and eventually got fired because of it. The person writing the article heaved this human being under a very big ugly bus and tried to make a solid case for why letting him go was the best decision the company ever made. After reading this, I was like, “huh, well that sucks for everyone involved there”.
Then I read the article that was a direct response to the first written by some other person who was not at all involved with the situation, presumably. This person dissected the first article and made very good counter arguments that at every turn what was happening or had happened was a direct result of some fault by the management of the company and I could not agree more.
This struck a sensitive nerve with me. I found myself being on the side of the person who was knowledgeable and dedicated and took on too much. I was upset with the company for letting it go as far as it did. Maybe he was an ass and things went down as they often do.. something goes wrong and somebody has to take the blame. After a person is gone, it is easy for those left to point fingers and not take responsibility for what has happened. The truth is, no one person can be at fault for some big failure in a company or project.
I think this is pretty common but I also think that what is at the heart of this story is also unfortunately all too common and that is that companies will use you and use you and use you until you break and can’t function anymore. Especially if you are very good and dedicated and a go-to person for the organization.
Yesterday I wrote about sleep deprivation and how it is detrimental to ones health. One of the causes of this is too much stress. Working 10 or 12 hour days or 20 days in a row wears heavily on a person and can be devastating to the balance of things. It gets even worse when you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. This is probably why this set of articles really made me think. I WAS that person.
I’m certainly not a self proclaimed genius in my field but I was becoming more and more retreated into my own world so I could get done what was being asked of me. I was trying to do everything that was asked of me and while doing so maintaining a level of quality that was above and beyond what peoples expectations were. I pride myself in the work that I do and when the quality started to become compromised just so I could get everything done, it was a big issue for me.
I attempted to point out workload issues to management and they sort of danced around it and just pushed those concerns aside saying that it would all balance out soon. I wanted that to be true and believed in it for quite a while. I gave it a year and it only got worse. Eventually, I had to force the issue and ask for some time off, which as you know, ended in me quitting my job.
In the articles I read, the person got fired and in my case, I just quit. In both cases, the company lost a good person because failures in management and poor decision making over an extended period of time. People are human beings who are flawed and make mistakes. They need leadership and guidance and mentors and someone to recognize when there is a problem and actually try to do something about it. You have to acknowledge what people need and sometimes put that ahead of the needs of the company.
Sure, you have a project that’s in a downward spiral, but if the culture of your company is to turn a blind eye to the root causes or dismiss warning signs or shrug at the notion of doing things in the name of employee satisfaction, it could mean more than just that project at stake.. It could be the entire company.
One might think it’s OK to use, use, use. Which is all fine and good until they day they lose, lose lose. I know I will never again allow myself to be subject to that kind of culture. Life is too short and I want to be at a place that values their employees and takes an interest in their health and well being.
If you put a dedicated, hard-working person in a positive, supportive atmosphere, the results will be amazing. People will be more engaged and productive and the outcomes will reflect that. A good culture is not only good for the employees but ultimately the company and the customers they serve as well. It’s a win-win-win! And who doesn’t like winning?