Fourteen signs that your company has got you by the balls

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting just how badly a ‘bad’ company treats its employees. Here are some signs that you might recognise how your company has got you stuck in their Machiavellian or “corporate” culture with no apparent way out:

  1. Raising a problem causes a row and possibly a disciplinary. All you are doing is making an objective observation about something that is not working, but the consequence is that you get the blame and end up with extra supervision or an extended probation period, or a penalty on your perks.
  2. If a problem really does become a problem within the whole company, the team of ‘minions’ are called together for a training update, a lecture on the importance of working as a team for the good of the company, to give back to the company what it gives to you, and other such guilt trips.
  3. Facts are changed, erased and edited to suit the company’s dishonesty. You may have been instructed to do something, then find that when that instruction goes wrong your senior manager has documented that they told you to do the opposite. (You’ll find that you become paranoid about saving emails in case you need proof of the original instruction, but …)
  4. … all staff are discouraged from putting things in writing, especially when a customer opens a dispute.
  5. Instructions are vague, incomplete, and intimidating – you are expected to fulfil their demands even though they are not communicated to you in a fair and reasonable way.
  6. Fierce competition between staff is encouraged through commissions and rewards, to ensure that there will always be a certain number of staff who are willing to compromise their own values with the values of the company. This creates the ‘insiders’ and the ‘outsiders’.
  7. Decision-making autonomy is taken away from ever management level and kept by the managers at the very top.
  8. Delegation is about bossing people around, not empowering them and giving them autonomy. There is no trust in anyone to do a good job, unless they share the corrupt values of the company.
  9. Resources are tightly controlled at the top and certainly not distributed for staff care. The company is focused solely on making money and minimising output on staff care, customer care, etc.
  10. You are constantly made to feel that you are lucky to have this job. If you complain you are held under the threat of being fired if you don’t do exactly what they tell you. Control is maintained through punishment rather than trust. They see your salary as your reward, and your annual leave is not your own to book and plan around your life. You are expected to book your time off around the demands of the company.
  11. If you get a company car it is probably taken out of your earnings some other way.
  12. While some people are fired, most who leave do so because of stress-related illness, or they just quit before hitting the end of their tether.
  13. Rules and responsibilities are different for everyone, depending on who’s ‘in’ with the baddies at the top and who’s considered an ‘outsider’. If you fall into the latter, expect to be treated harshly.
  14. Tense office atmosphere, no sense of humour; a relaxed attitude in the office is not permitted.

Hmmm, ring any bells? Squeeze any balls? A career change is an option open to everyone who is employable. And don’t let those nut-crackers lead you to believe that if you leave them, you’re not employable anywhere else. Having survived that, you’ll breeze through your next job.

Best wishes til the next article,
Nicole and Nik

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