The Fear Problem in Corporate America

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We have a fear problem in Corporate America.   Fear of failure, fear of losing, fear of reprisal, fear of negative press, fear of missed numbers, fear of lawsuits, fear, fear, fear, fear, is with out a doubt, the singular emotion eating away at Corporate America.

Charles Green over at Trusted Advisor had a great post today: Are Your Company Values Important Enough to Fire People Over? In it he shares a message he received from a client about the behaviors of some very successful sales people:

We have a group of VHPS (Very Highly Paid Salespeople). They’re mainly commission-paid and very successful. Problem is, they don’t pitch-in on corporate initiatives—recruiting, people development, internal sessions.  They prefer to focus just on making more money.

We want to incent and motivate them to be more participative. We’re looking for ideas from other commission structure industries that have figured out how to keep the high-pay but incent and motivate team behavior.

Really?  Incent values, or appropriate behaviors?   Can you imagine asking a child psychologist how to “incent” your children to keep from stealing or hitting their little brother or not swearing at you?  Trying to incent your employees to act right, is akin to incenting your children to do what their supposed to.

Green had a great response:

Here’s what that boss should be saying:

“It has come to my attention that y’all are not showing up to do some real basic stuff. Further, I understand this is because you’re not ‘motivated’ or ‘incented’ to do these things.

“Instead, y’all are getting rich at the corporate buffet by cutting in line. You’re eating scrambled golden eggs while you’re starving the goose that lays them. You’re suckling at the teats of the money-pig and refusing to clean up the pen. So I got some motivatin’ for you.

“First, TCSRN (This Crap Stops Right Now). Starting today, if I see any more of this, it’s LDHYWGLSY (Let the Doorknob Hit You Where the Good Lord Split You). Adios.

“And if that’s not incentive enough for you, I can OUCOWA (Open Up a Can of Whup Ass) and show you the door.

Green is absolutely right. You don’t and can’t incent values.  You expect them.  If they can be achieved, then clearly they are at the wrong company.  Not too tough, or is it?

The problem with enforcing values is they are difficult to measure.   As Green discusses in the post, today’s VSP’s (Very Smart People) know only the measurable and the tangible.  Although, I don’t completely agree, I do agree the measurable is all most companies will use to make decisions and if it can’t be measured it doesn’t exist and this is where the problem is.  Why?  FEAR!

Measuring, and tangible outcomes are great for covering your ass.  Data is the ultimate fox hole.  It’s the ultimate cover.   Without data, real tangible data, people are exposed, are easily second guessed and in today’s world where people are afraid, no one has the courage to take on the battle.  Holding people accountable to the companies values takes courage.  It takes strength and a willingness to make decisions on data that isn’t black or white, but gray.   Unfortunately, like this company, few have the courage to stand up for their values, they are just too scared.

I think fear rules in today’s corporate world and that is just too bad.  Why are we all so afraid?