“Why Christmas is Destroying Corporate America.” That’s right. A well-known blogger really tried to make that argument on a very popular website three years ago. Unfortunately, my blog was also on that site at the time. I remember thinking: Crap, there goes the neighborhood … and my credibility.
Then again, the woman was infamous for gems like “Why Your Career Needs Plastic Surgery – Literally,” where she gave this advice to new grads: “Tell your parents you want plastic surgery as a graduation gift. Hate those thin lips? Fatten them up. It'll help you land the job.”
You just can’t make this stuff up.
I eventually followed the age-old axiom and changed the channel, but wouldn’t you know it, the dopey arguments that blogger tried to make keep coming up again and again in workplaces all across the western world.
So I thought I’d turn the tables and explain what really is destroying corporate America: Political correctness.
To be specific, I’m referring to selfish, whiny, thin-skinned, entitled employees who take themselves too seriously, find the littlest things offensive, create all sorts of drama that has nothing to do with their jobs or the business their companies are in, and think the workplace should be a pure democracy where they have a say in every little decision.
To make matters worse, spineless executives, managers, and business leaders everywhere are kowtowing to this nonsense because they lack the moral compass to do the right thing and the courage to stand up to it.
To combat the plague of political correctness that’s invading our companies, here are my 5 Non-PC Rules of Workplace Diversity. Feel free to send it to your boss or post it in the break room where everyone can see it. If your co-workers whine about it, tell them I said they should shut up and get back to work – you know, what they’re actually paid to do.
1. Business is about business … period. Every employee serves the company, its customers and its shareholders. That goes for everyone from the CEO and board of directors on down. Work isn’t about you, your personal drama, your generation, how you feel about a federal holiday, or your access to Facebook and Twitter. If everything offends you and you’re not a happy camper, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
2. Motivate employees where it counts: their jobs. Want to know what motivates good employees – you know, the kind you actually want to keep around? A challenging work environment in a successful company where their efforts are recognized, appreciated, respected, and fairly rewarded with growth opportunities and a piece of the action. That and free food. Don’t ask me why; employees love free food.
3. Make people decisions with a blindfold. Whenever I suggest we judge each other blindly (in terms of race, gender, and age), the affirmative action and diversity crowd goes wild. To me, it’s the highest form of civilization we can aspire to. Isn’t that what the nice lady with the blindfold and the scales in every court of justice in what’s supposed to be a nation of laws is supposed to be about, or did I miss something somewhere?
4. Try to please all and you please none. I don’t know when I first heard that, but I was very young, it made a big impact, I’ve never forgotten it, and it’s served me well over the years. Make smart decisions that serve the company’s stakeholders. Maintain a strong moral compass. Have the courage to do the right thing. And don’t try to please individuals. Save that for your friends and family. At work, it never works.
5. Stand up to frivolous litigation – you won’t go to jail. Don’t kowtow to or negotiate with people who threaten you or your company. They’re just weak-minded, selfish bullies with low self-esteem trying to extort you. Dot your ‘I’s, cross your ‘T’s, document everything, and call their bluff. If you need encouragement, remember, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Lastly, never give in to the status quo, the fads of the day, popular wisdom, or the most annoying and obnoxious voices, just to make them go away and make your life easier. Your stakeholders depend on you to be wise, make smart decisions, and do the right thing. So do it.
Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive and author of "Real Leaders Don't Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur." Learn more, contact Tobak or follow his new blog at stevetobak.com. Any opinions expressed are those of the columnist.