Pretending to be asleep …

There is a saying in almost every culture that says “you can wake up the one who is sleeping, but never the one who is pretending to be asleep”… I find several examples of this in the corporate world and it’s actually a demotivating and disengaging behaviour.

An example of how this behaviour is displayed at work would be, that a colleague ensures there is one problem that is never solved, even if it has been fixed or is fixable because their job security depends on it. Let’s say a particular software has bugs, like most softwares (except Apple’s) do. This colleague will highlight one bug and the team that needs to fix it will fix that bug, then another bug will be highlighted and so on … Let’s say all bugs get fixed then the product’s features won’t be sufficient, something just won’t be right, a client will ask for a new feature that will be committed to without checking back with the software team and that will become the new problem. The basic thought is to keep everyone on tenterhooks so that this colleague’s job remains relevant :):).

All cards will never be laid open. When you ask why is this happening, you will be told its because of reason A. When you provide a solution for A, it won’t be implemented and then when you check back, you will be given the reason B. When you ask for all the reasons, you won’t get them ….hey it’s a great strategy to survive, as long as you have a boss who loves you inspite of everything. Won’t work when you have a boss who finds you out. Then what do you do ?

The reality is, finding such people is very difficult and dislodging them from the organization is even more difficult. The mistake most organizations that focus on “numbers” and “numbers” alone make is not weeding out such colleagues. They will bring in great results but some people parameter will giveaway their true colors – engagement scores, attrition, exit interviews after the attrited one has got his/her dues etc. There is another big parameter, the health of those who work with such colleagues – usually there will be high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue and general discomfort when you work with this kind of individual because they create enormous stress.

This is a deadlier variety of the kind that Jack Welch spoke of in his farewell address to GE – “find those who kiss up and kick down, and fire the ?!@**#”. Well, the “pretending to be asleep” type fall in the same category and need to be fired. They can be great subject matter experts, the best in their field, but removing their fist will keep the water in the bucket clean, otherwise the water (read rest of the organization/team) will dry up quickly. So don’t wake them up, just fire them.

P.s :- The people pundits out there will be upset with my suggestion, but I love working with people and in a team, so don’t turn on me. My love isn’t soppy, it’s love that helps you and me grow and the “pretending to be asleep” type don’t help in that growth. They are not team players and I don’t work with such people. Everyone has the potential to change, and everyone must get the chance to change. So fire these guys after you have provided every opportunity for them to realise their mistake, not on day one.

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