Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to avoid your organization’s muppet manifesto

Beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar, Act I, scene i.

2,056 years ago, Julius Caesar was assassinated. To mark that occasion two years ago, I wrote that employers should be wary of the types of problem employees within their organizations. That lesson rings as true today as it did then: certain archetypes of employees bear a knife in the form of a potential lawsuit, or worse.

Yesterday, Greg Smith offered his resignation to Goldman Sachs by way of a scathing op-ed in the New York Times. The banking giant thought enough of Smith to include him in its college recruiting video and promote him from summer intern all the way to executive director. Yet, I’m certain it had no idea that he harbored a level of unparalleled disenchantment and dissatisfaction that led him to a very public (and embarrassing) resignation. Smith objected to a corporate culture of greed that included his colleagues privately referring to clients as “muppets” (hence, the press labeling Smith’s op-ed the “muppet manifesto”). I’m not here to defend Smith. In fact, his very public bridge burning should cause any prospective employer great pause before hiring him.

In my piece, Beware these types of problem employees, Smith is archetype number 10: the unhappy employee. You must know what’s going on with your employees. Be aware and tackle these problems head-on. Do not provide your employees the opportunity to stab you in the back.