When the Dream Job Turns into a Nightmare
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
A recruiter dies and stands before the "Pearly Gates." St Peter checks the records and says, "Based on your work and experience you are equally qualified for both Heaven and hell. Where would you like to go?"
The recruiter thinks for a minute and replies, "Would it be possible for me to interview for both positions? Then I would have a better understanding of both and be able to decide which offer is a better fit."
St. Peter thinks for a minute and replies, "Sure, I can arrange for you to interview in Heaven first and next hell." Within a few minutes he escorts the recruiter to an elevator that goes directly to heaven. Heaven appears to be a pretty nice place; it is quiet and tranquil, with angels flying around singing soft church-type music. The people appear happy, smiling and everyone is getting along very well.
Once that interview is completed, the recruiter is escorted back to the elevator and taken to hell. Hell, it turns out, is not anything like the recruiter expected. There is a large conference center at a golf course/beach resort. Inside is an open-bar, buffet tables with a large assortment of different kinds of foods along with casinos, night clubs, rock bands, etc. The recruiter recognizes several people who are playing golf who wave and say, "Good to see you! Come on, join us!"
The recruiter returns to St. Peter who asks, "Have you decided which offer you would like to accept?" Well," the recruiter responded, "Heaven looked pretty nice, but I thought it seemed somewhat boring. I think the position in hell is a better fit for me."
St. Peter nods and within a split second the recruiter is in a vat of boiling oil. The recruiter screams out to the devil who is standing nearby, "What's going on? Five minutes ago, I was here and I am supposed to join my old friends on the golf course." To which the devil replied, "That was when you were a candidate. Now you are an employee."
So many times, a person accepts a new job with high hopes and dreams for the future. They are motivated and excited about this new career path. However, like what happened to our recruiter friend, things can change. Sometimes quickly... sometimes slowly; those dreams often disappear and the person is left wondering how they ended up in this situation. Sound familiar. What happens? How can something that starts out appearing like a dream job turn into a nightmare?
Why does an organization go through such a thorough recruiting process; screening candidates with numerous interviews, discussions, pre-employment tests and assessments, etc., in an effort to select the candidate who is a perfect fit; and then, after the candidate becomes an employee, it is as if their 'halo 'slips' and becomes a 'noose.'" Suddenly this 'perfect' candidate cannot do anything right. What happened?
Never Work for a Jerk
Years ago, I read a book entitled 'Never Work for a Jerk' by Patricia King who is a management consultant and trainer in which she talks about various kinds of 'jerk' behaviors some bosses may use and provides tools for proactively taking control of one's career. In this book, she explains that entire organizations can assume these kinds of characteristics and become what she calls a 'jerk corporation.'
One indicator of a 'jerk corporation,' is when employees consistently gripe and complain negatively about the organization. Other indicators can be destructive behaviors everyone does but nobody thinks are smart. This kind of 'organizational bullying' can permeate any organization. For example, in one organization people were expected to remain at work for hours after quitting time in case 'someone' might have a question or 'need' something. Employees were criticized for leaving work at quitting time and in some instances, it was noted in employees' performance appraisals.
It can be difficult to decide how to handle it if you find yourself in a situation such as this. Quite frankly, only you can decide if you want to 'go' or 'stay.' If, however, you see people you respect and admire leaving the organization it might be a sign that the time has come for you to consider leaving as well. I think Patricia King states it best when she says, "If everyone who cares leaves the organization, the company will lose its viability. In some cases, all the competent people go and you wind up with nothing but deadwood. Every organization has a few people who have outstayed their usefulness, but if you look around and see a lumberyard, you may be looking at an organization about to go under."
To Stay or to Go
If you do decide to stay with the organization you need to understand that the chances are that the situation probably is not going to change for the better. You can do your best to improve things, however, quite possibly it could get worse and you have to accept the situation as a tradeoff. It is a good idea to set goals for yourself and find satisfaction where you can.
The Time has Come to Part Ways
I always tell people the day you start your new job is the day you begin looking for the next one. Throughout your work life, you should be keeping your resume updated and continuing to build your network and cultivating those relationships. If you decide the time has come to leave, do your research to insure you do not fall into a similar situation again. Ask the right questions in the interview and find out if the company is the right place for you.
The reality is that nobody wants to work for a bully or a jerk. If you are a manager and you want to be successful, you do not want to be a bully or a jerk.
Organizational leaders need to look at his or her own behaviors as well as those of their team members. If there is high turnover, it is a sign that employees are leaving because of poor management; it has been proven that employees do not leave jobs; they leave bosses. Are 'jerk' and bullying behaviors tolerated in the organization?
If they are a great deal of work needs to be done, including training and coaching for the managers and employees to learn the skills needed to develop winning behaviors in the workplace. The first steps to begin are to communicate honestly and treat people with respect. Nobody wants to work for a 'jerk' or a 'jerk corporation.
Ref., King, Patricia, Never Work for a Jerk!, Franklin Watts, New York, NY, 1987