August 19, 2014 Global Leadership

The Arbitrary Nature of Corporate Decisions

By Raj Donald
Fitness Trainer, Individual Leadership Strategist

choiceDecisions…we make them everyday. From miniscule choices of what shoes to wear or what to cook for dinner, to what’s my next car. As humans we make thousands of decisions everyday.  Most of the decisions we make are done unconsciously out of habit and/or routine.  There’s an expression out there that says, “When a butterfly flaps its wings…” Well you get the idea, the Butterfly Effect.  All decisions and actions can yield major consequences for you, family, friends and all those connected to you in one way or another.  The funny thing is all decisions don’t carry the same weight to all people.  What is seemingly catastrophic for one person is absolutely nothing to the next person.  Herein lies a bit of a dilemma in the corporate world. Namely, how leaders and managers make major decisions that involve the lives of many people without so much as blinking an eye…

Case in point, 1999, while transitioning from driving a tractor-trailer and going to school to earn a bachelor’s in Business Management, I decided to pursue a career in IT.  Internet boom was in full swing so it seemed like a great place to pitch a tent.  Enrolled in a certification school, picked up a few pieces of paper and was quickly off and running.  Within a few months, I left the tractor behind to work full-time as an Network Admin and IT Mentor at the school. Within 6 months I’d transitioned into a sales role and quickly became #1/#2 nationally!  #boom!  I quickly helped run the office and took lead anytime the GM was out.  The team worked well together (at least I thought)

Things were great and an opportunity came up to look at another office in need of help.  Management role, yes I’m in! Even though this was stressful to the former wife, I thought it best to continue climbing the corporate ladder.  In short, sold the house, pack the bags and relocated in no time flat! Things were looking up and the sky was the only limiting factor in front of me…or so I thought.

#@$#%$!! Did you hear those breaks and the sound of crashing glass? You know that feeling when you hear an accident off in the distance? Well I just got hit by a truck…head on.  No less than 2 weeks in to the migration down to my new role as GM of the struggling facility I get an EMAIL from my “former” GM saying there’s been a change.  The President’s son wants that office and he’s going to take it for now. #boom! on me this time…  “We’re going to open an office on the north side of town in 6 months or so and you’ll have that one.” Hmmmm. Let’s run down the list.

1. Sold the house
2. Angry wife at relocation
3. In the new city already looking for a place to stay
4. No new GM position…you know, the one I’d worked for

What’s worse…Remember the former GM? Well, I had an agreement that I could keep all the deals I had closing prior to relocating for a period of 3 months.  Not an unheard of arrangement by any means.  Well, most of the business came in within 2 months, but THEY KEPT IT ALL!!! I took this all the way up to the President with NO favorable resolution.  Brakes!!! Wait a minute… we were all good friends. Dinners, excursions together and, making great money building a company… How could they? Did they just? What the hell is going on here?

I have to pause and mention the fact this former GM was a PASTOR and in Seminary to finish his Masters in Theology “DAFUQ”?!?!?!?  Excuse me Lord that one slipped…

I decided to take the high road coupled with a few lumps, and try to stick this out. We (me responsible for retraining the sales force and setting metrics since the President’s son didn’t know “SHYTE”) increase this under-performing office’s position by 11 making it #2 in less than a year. Lemonade out of lemons… Sadly, I received little to no credit for my efforts and that new office…wasn’t happening.  It simply was no longer in budget.  What?!?!?!

Okay, okay, okay… so back to the arbitrary nature of decisions… How could they DECIDE to take my promotion away like that?  How could the guys I fought in the trenches with take over 60k in commissions from me? Professed Christians at that… How could they let this kid who knew nothing, take all the credit when they KNEW I had done all the work?  These, my friends, are all decisions made by corporate America that effect the lives of so many.  Everyday, decisions like these are made by people who sit around a table and for reasons that may even be unknown to them, decide the future and inflict damage to so many.

So let’s take inventory again…

1. They Lied…
2. They Stole…
3. They Broke an agreement…
4. They allowed immense “group think” to completely justify unacceptable behavior…

I could go on but I won’t, you get the picture.

Now, I’d bet they would have an issue if the shoe were on the other foot… What do you think?  We have to be more responsible for the people we bring in to our organizations.  The fact it is a cultural norm these types of things take place is saddening at best.  Women are treated as objects for favors, racial discrimination, the “good ol’ boy network”, folks are promoted purely based on whom they know rather than their qualifications for the role and some folks are placed in roles just because they need a “token” minority in a higher role.  This is one of the worse things that can happen.  Typical outcome?  I’m glad you asked…If the person can’t perform the functions of this role they aren’t qualified for, the firm usually will keep them on to avoid racial conflicts for firing the only “token” in leadership.

Stockholder equity is the cause of many layoffs.  #1 way to increase year-end profitability=reduce headcount! Works every time.  But these are lives, the ones who have mismanaged the company into the red, with the power of the pen, can erase their mistakes by relieving others of their jobs. Ouch! That’s Just Business and it’s Not Personal, right?  We’ll my contention is that since it involved people; you can bet it was personal for somebody!

The unfortunate thing is all the weight is CARRIED by those who lose the game! Now get this…The GM, Pastor, seminary do-hicky-thing-a-ma-bob guy who took all my commissions actually called me about 10 years later.  He said, “I need to apologize to you.  What we did to you was just wrong on so many fronts.”  I’d like to ask for your forgiveness.  So I’m staring at the phone…”DAHELL?!?!”

My response was simply…don’t worry about…what’s done is done, later dude! I guess I could have been more professional, but I was simply speechless.  Pay me the money you stole…that’s the right response!

Management, Leadership and the employees.  You know, the ones who actually do the work…

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