I’ve had this conversation with two different people, and I’m finding it hard to believe the business world really operates this way. Please enlighten.
I expressed surprise that a publishing house would re-consider a book nixed by a single high-powered individual right after that individual left the publisher. My Patient Husband said, “Doesn’t surprise me at all.”
I’m surprised because it seems they’re admitting they hired someone for a powerful position who made bad decisions. My Patient Husband said, “We do that all the time. We blame the last person who left, and as soon as the door hits him on the way out, we pounce like a band of rabid hyenas on all the decisions he made that we didn’t like, and we undo them all.”
Later I related this to my mother, who said, “Oh, absolutely. Even if the decision was made twenty years ago, and the person only worked here for three. Charlie left? Well, that program isn’t working because of a decision Charlie made. Those changes Charlie made to process? No one does them anymore.”
I said, Aren’t these businesses interested in covering themselves? Afraid they’ll look bad?
My Patient Husband said, “Who’s to see? They don’t care. It makes it easier for the organization to fictionally believe itself perfect, if the person making the mistakes is the one who just left.”
But if everyone KNOWS this open secret, is it effective?
He laughed. “Heck, my old department is already joking around about what stuff they’ll blame me for when I’m finished transferring to the new department.”
It just seems so…unprofessional. Overall I figured that at an organizational level, corporations were interested in appearing to be in lockstep. An executive is incompetent or otherwise blocking the group’s vision, so he’s maneuvered into early retirement or finding other employment. The executives don’t then turn around and say, “Eltrude was a putz,” but rather say, “Yes, that’s company procedure” and wait a suitable amount of time before “reorganizing” or “implementing new policy” or whatever euphemisms will smooth it over. You know, the way you’d read in the paper. “We’ve decided to take the company in a new direction.” Not, “Boy, we are so glad he’s out of here!”
On the inside, things function a lot differently! (I’d better never write a novel about corporate intrigue. It’d be funny, but not the way I want it to be.)
This idea that “Eltrude left on Monday, so on Tuesday we’ll implement all the improvements he blocked with his old-guard ways” is, to me, very strange. And yet I’m being told everywhere I ask that this is exactly how the business world works, that it preserves the integrity of the corporation, and that it’s understood and accepted.
Oh, that and and get all your references in a row before you leave. Seeing as you’ll have made all these mistakes by tomorrow.