The Magic of Santa
First, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
It is this time of the year when sees the Santa Claus images take center-stage everywhere. For sure, a version of this jolly character is most likely to be found in every house that has a kid.
Recently, I was having a discussion with friends about whether it is wrong for parents and other adults to lie to children by telling them Santa Claus exists?
With all the euphoria around, kids often connect the dots and raise questions about whether or not there is a Santa Claus. The questions are logical and at this point still innocent and non-accusatory.
Notwithstanding, the lack of circumstantial evidence, there is a high likelihood that they still believe in Santa’s magic. But certainly they would at the back of their minds, surely wonder if the magic is real
Extending the argument into our organizations
How often does this very notion go on in your organizations? When was the last time you tried to sell your employees on some magic?
Surely you can think of time when you spun the message to sound more positive or left out some details in a communication. Eventually like the kids, they will figure it out.
ROSE-COLORED RECRUITING GLASSES
The 7 Potential Lies Told in the Hiring Process are:
- There’s a lot of opportunity for advancement.
- The bonus structure will double your income.
- Your territory is protected and we won’t change it.
- You’ll get extensive training.
- You’ll have scheduling flexibility and can work from home on occasion.
- We’ll hire you some help when it gets busy.
- Once you fix this problem/department/project, etc., you’ll get to work on something new and exciting.
What this causes eventually is employee frustration
My offer letter promised me a six-month raise, but it never happened
“When I was hired almost two years ago as a manager, it was with the promise that if I achieved certain milestones and met the company’s expectations my compensation would increase dramatically. I’ve met all the requirements and more, and no one disputes that. But when I approached top management about this recently, they said there’s no way they could pay me that much money.
These are basically honest people, and I like working with them. They created the expectation, and I have worked exceptionally hard to earn exceptional money. I’m willing to stick it out, but I’m wondering if I was too trusting. I did not get all these promises in writing as you recommend. I decided to take a chance”
THE LOST PROMOTION
Like the hunt for lost treasure, you’re given a map (typically at the conclusion of your annual performance review) with an X that marks the promotion spot. You work diligently throughout the year charting your course. When you finally arrive at the X after a year of hard work, you see someone else standing on what should be your spot. The promise of a promotion if you hold out for one more year is tantalizing to resist and frequently broken.
THE DISAPPEARING RAISE
An employee is promised a raise if they take on (or continue to take on) an excessive workload complete with challenging workplace fires. After one year, the firefighting employee comes out on the other side successful (although slightly singed) and senior management suddenly forgets their promise of more benjamins. As the discussion heats up, senior management commonly defaults to any of several arguments:
“I don’t know what you are talking about. We would never have promised something like that.”
“If we do that for you, we’ll have to do it for everyone.”
“If we did that, you would be making too much money (and/or more money than your boss, etc.)”
“Things have changed. We can no longer afford to do that.”
David v. Sirius Computer Solutions, Inc.
The federal court in Colorado recently handled such a case in which a successful computer sales person with national accounts left her lucrative position to join another computer company who had promised that she could keep her current accounts and expand the scope of her sales beyond mainframe computer systems. After her new employer assigned many of her lucrative accounts to other sales representatives and told her that she would not be able to sell outside of the mainframe area, she sued. Although her new employer claimed that its recruiting statements were nothing more than predictions or statements of future intent, a jury found in favor of the sales person on her claim of negligent misrepresentation. The jury awarded her damages in the amount of $231,665 and, after an appeal, an additional $139,625 in prejudgment interest. DIANE DAVID v. SIRIUS COMPUTER SOLUTIONS, INC., 779 F.3d 1209 (10th Cir. 2015). Detailed judgement at https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/14/14-1125.pdf
Consequences of Commitment Drift
Under the pressure of a quota, deadline, or amid the turmoil of constant change, some leaders experience “commitment drift,” in which critical promises are forgotten or broken. Commitment drift is dangerous because it erodes trust and undermines relationship
Remember that, unlike the kids, disgruntled employees can leave the organizations. Or worse still, they can stay back, offer just a little less effort and put in a little less time, now focusing on the ‘Do punch, aur ek lunch’ i.e. two times punching the time machine and taking a lunch break in between.
So the entire ‘spinning the weave’ becomes counter-productive
Value of a promise kept
Your company’s reputation as a great place to work depends on your ability to keep the promises—implicit and explicit—you make to your employees.
The value of a promise that you keep consistently is simply humungous. An organization that exceeds its employees’ expectations will have people who will provide referrals and advocate for their employer, for example, on their old campus, among their professional associations and among their friends and social networks.
Thus, engaged, committed employees can be among the best ambassadors for the marketplace brand and for the employment brand.
The Way Out
Tempting as it may be, refrain from making guarantees or promises to job candidates that you can’t fulfill.
Sometimes the HR, with the best of its intentions is also helpless. Often, the manager that made all of the verbal promises moves to another part of the company, or quits, or is fired, leaving no confirmation of your agreement. It could also happen that the manager may not have been authorized by the company to make certain promises to the potential recruit.
So, the ideal way out is to have everything in ‘black and white’
Whether you purchase a house or a car, a written contract is so essential for both the parties to be sure about the price and details of the sale. So why do people routinely accept job offers without a written contract?
The criteria for more money, promotions and all the good things in life that employees expect from employers must be written, objective, achievable, and measurable
Make sure you are not perceived as a “carrot dangler” leader, be it in HR or business otherwise; the one who likes to hold out rewards and possibilities in front of employees without ever fulfilling promises
Regardless of what you choose, you may lose. Communication is tough and sometimes it entails sales and marketing. Just make sure you aren’t selling Santa Claus.