vineri, 31 mai 2013

When the emperor has no clothes

Once upon a time, two weavers (or maybe a consultant) promised an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their position, stupid or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession…

In many small or medium-sized companies (SMEs with under 250 employees), offices, teams, projects, plans, strategy, company values, true roots, integrity, promises, trust, performance, clarity, engagement, and mainly the people, the sense of family and the respect for individual are all just like Emperor's new clothes. In such companies, many of us could see that the Emperor has no clothes, but rarely someone has the courage to tell the truth, or at least trying to suggest some parts of it. And when doing so, it is almost always a bad thing to do because then they will call you at some private discussion, explaining that you are wrong and that the new clothes looks great. SMEs 'leaders' usually try to inspire from the way of working in large enterprises (or sometimes from different books), which is not a bad thing, but many times they will just pretend to do it, while in practice they will just do the opposite (e.g. they will say the company is set for growth and success and one day later they will stealthily fire some skilled people - why? because they can!). So, if we are working for such a SME company, it seems we have no choice but to read the books, then pretend or really set our minds to believe we see and admire the new clothes, so that we will increase the chances of not being noticed as unfit for our position (non-employable).

Having experience working for all types of company sizes, and in the latest 5 years working only for SMEs, these being a Finish company, a Romanian company and the latest one an UK company, it seems for some different reasons all three disappointed me at the end. In some of these companies it doesn't matter if you want to see the Emperor's new clothes all the time, if you are exceeding expectations doing a perfect job, sending emails or having business meetings in the evenings, wearing a pig red nose or some fancy dress in some occasions, or pressing Like button on all bosses messages, you will always be nothing else than a removable at-will resource. Although sometimes the gained experience while working for such companies could be valuable, it would be wise not to stay with them for too long, unless of course you have no other choice.

Fortunately, the large companies have a totally different approach towards employees. Even when there were difficult times, always the employees were truly respected. And they were respected around the world, no matter where the office was, in Finland, Romania, UK, whatever. Even if the local legislation is more permissive for the employer, a large company will not take advantage of local legislation disfavoring the employees, but will always try to use their global policy everywhere. Several thousand employees knows this and that's why they are joining and staying with large enterprises, since there work is humanized and relationship is valued (even if from outside you might think is not). And what's for sure, in a large enterprise you don't have to pretend you see the new clothes, ever! It might be that in a large enterprise you might feel as a small piece in a big puzzle, and in a SME you might feel as a big piece in a small puzzle. But at the end, what matters is to be part of and contribute to something bigger than you, and you really can decide (if you want!) how big that something to be.

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