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THREE QUACKS FOR CORPORATE AMERICA!

By Rip Rense
(Originally published The Rense Retort.)

Ah, the corporate managers of today! Such leaders! Builders of spirit! Bulwarks of judgment, clarity of thought and logic. Paragons of benevolence! Lucky you, the American worker!

Consider these actual instances of creative corporate management, as reported by actual employees straight from the American workplace!

Episode # 1: Corporate Hindquarters

This took place inside the offices of a fabulously prosperous automobile firm. The manager -- doubtless a person with advanced degrees in things like "human resources" -- called a staff meeting without warning, then cryptically announced, "Let's play a game!" Instead of phoning an asylum, all fifteen or so of her employees obediently crowded into her office, and were instructed to form an incomplete circle, and join hands. This, they sheepishly did.

Two of the employees were then selected to enter the incomplete circle, bend over, close their eyes, walk backwards, and. ...

Quack like ducks!

I kid you not.

Now, if a quacker bumped into a colleague in the semi-circle, that colleague was invited to boot the quacker in the ass -- er, that is, knee him or her gently in the hindquarters. If a quacker found a way out of the semi-circle, then he or she could quack loudly as a signal to the remaining quacker, meaning, "Exit here!"

This is where the corporate manager cleverly joined in, quacking from another point outside the semi-circle, to try and fiendishly throw the remaining quacker off the exit trail!

This, the corporate manager eventually explained, was an exercise intended to demonstrate two basic principles of the workplace: teamwork and the avoidance of distraction!

Degrading? Dehumanizing? Humiliating? Downright ... bloody, detestably stupid? Why? Just because the corporate manager was treating her employees -- many of whom were older than she -- as if they had Down's Syndrome? Nah, this is just another one of the wonderful new innovative techniques for fostering morale and efficiency in the American workplace!

Episode # 2: Self-devaluation

Next, let's turn to an example of corporate managerial innovation at a major manufacturing company. Here, employees -- as is usually the case in corporate America -- are annually asked to fill out "self-evaluation" forms.

Pshaw, you say? These are a stupid, vile waste of time? A ploy by management to take the burden of evaluation off their own shoulders? A method of keeping employees off-balance by putting them in the awkward position of criticizing themselves openly? Silly you! Nothing could be further from the truth! This is a progressive technique aimed at finding out just how honest employees are, and how well they understand their own strengths and weaknesses! This is a brilliant tool enabling employees and managers to work together, honestly -- even bluntly -- toward greater productivity, harmony, and commitment.

(When, in a prior corporate lifetime, your columnist was required to fill out one of these forms, he was utterly honest. Absolutely no faults whatsoever!)

Now, at this same manufacturer, employees are not only asked to fill out self-evaluation forms -- but to then sit down and discuss them with their managers! What's that, you say? That's like being made to humiliate yourself before your boss, a spirit-breaking technique designed to reinforce management power? Sounds like something they make prisoners-of-war do? Sign confessions of crimes, and then publicly acknowledge them? Well! That doesn't deserve to be dignified with a response. This is all about working together, and trust! Everyone has flaws, so let's just be honest about it! You know. ...

"Well, sir/madam, I feel I have done an excellent job, all around, but darn me! I just can't quite get the hang of making good office coffee. But I fully intend to try harder, and give it my best, and I certainly welcome your help, and the constructive criticism of my colleagues."

"That's fine. And we certainly expect nothing less. We're all looking forward to your coffee in the future. And we'll be tasting it daily!"

But wait, there's more. ...

Not only are these employees required to fill out the self-evaluation forms, and then to discuss them with their wise and dignified bosses, but they will also be ... asked to fill out evaluation forms on their fellow employees!

Holy Joseph McCarthy, Batman!

That's right, Joe Employee will have to fill out a form evaluating the performance of Jane Employee, and Marvin Employee, and Horatio Employee, and Iphigenia Employee. And then Iphigenia will have to evaluate Marvin, and Horatio, and well, they will all have to evaluate each other. Everybody will evaluate everybody! It'll be an Evaluation Extravaganza! There will be so much evaluating, there almost won't be any time to work!

Naysayers will call this a sadistic method of keeping everyone off-guard, and engendering ill-will and enmity among the staff -- making everybody suspicious of everybody else, thus ensuring power for the corporate manager. But they're simply, naively wrong! There is no place in corporate America for such cynicism! For those of you who liken this tactic to something you'd find in oh, a Mainland China "readjustment camp," well, adjust your Prozac! This mutual evaluation doesn't make everyone hate everyone else; it encourages candor, and cooperation, and the most hallowed term in the entire corporate managerial vocabulary:

Synergy!

You know, we're all part of a family. Let's make sure everybody's on the same page! It's all about dialogue, setting clear boundaries, commitment, honesty! Hooray for us!

Episode # 3: Corporate Insultant

Finally comes this report from a successful little newspaper in northern California where a "consultant to management" hung around for several weeks, offering tips for improving the successful newspaper's ... success. (Simple success is no longer enough, you know, in Tony Robbins, go-for-it, make-a-difference, be-all-you-can-be, manic America!) A friend who works at this paper found a copy of one of the consultant's memos to management, and passed it along to me. Here it is:

"Here's the list of words we came up with at the department heads' meeting: integrity, cutting edge, accurate, intelligent, distinctive, relevant, attractive, credible, exciting, powerful, useful, happening, functional, insightful, sophisticated, timely, vital, fun, youthful, independent, informative, local, diverse, accessible, proud, active, influential, classy, interactive, friendly."

The jaded among you are probably thinking, Oh, God, another idiot with a degree in "Leadership," or some other fake discipline. Those people bleach all meaning out of useful, general terms, and turn them into dead corporate-ese bull. Not at all! This consultant had democratically sought "input" from all department heads, asking the question, "What words do you want people to associate with your newspaper?" This was a terrific exercise. At last, the editors have a clear idea of their goal -- that readers should really like their newspaper! What a concept!

You see, they would never have known this had it not been for the crucial intervention of that innovative managerial consultant.

Maybe next time, he'll ask what kind of an animal they'd like their newspaper to be, if they could pick any kind of animal in the whole, wide world.

Hooray for the corporate manager!

Hooray, hooray, hooooo-rayyyyyy!

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