I debated on writing this one. It gets a little rough in places, and I really don't like rough opinions. But after talking with an old friend the other day, he convinced me to do it - for him. It is always hard to watch others suffer un-needlessly. To my friend who is feeling the burn, this one is for you.
Employees are becoming more concerned about being victimized for being themselves, not just for the way they are doing their jobs. It's a two headed dragon!
I wonder if doormats are a new phenomenon created by our business culture, or if they have always existed throughout the ages? I am sure they have always been with us - and probably always will be.
The radical right, and the equally radical left, inside an organization, can and do rip working environments apart. People are getting hit with the doormat coming and going! Here a doormat, there a doormat, everywhere a doormat. Kind of sounds like a children's nursery rhyme, and we all know the meaning of those rhymes.
Generally this type of doormat victimization starts at the lower end, or middle management sectors. They rip apart people who would be good workers with their indecisive and critical views points. Basically they run off the busy bees - the truly motivated and often dedicated; the people with all the information about your organization in their heads.
These radical doormats break internal communications, cause departmental animosity, and breed distrust. That distrust can follow a corporation, and the outward view then becomes a direct reflection of those in power behind it. This level of distrust reaches the communities and business circles you serve, and gives many a reason to not want to do business with your organization. The effects can be long lasting.
THE OPPOSITE OF DOORMAT
The happy employee is an engaged employee, even if that engagement is sitting in a cubicle by themselves, effectively working on the day's task; or running a board meeting, digging ditches, selling tours, or pouring coffee to the masses. They are engaged, motivated to come to work, happy and productive.
These employees are the opposite of a doormat. You will know when a true doormat joins your operation. People will begin to lose their jobs, be demoted for unknown reasons, and many just leave. Moral collapses and people begin to lose their drive when doormats take over. The happy environment is replaced with one of tyranny and discontent.
WHAT IS A DOORMAT?
A doormat can be classified as a “yes” man/woman. Never questioning, never confirming, never engaging their higher ups on an issue, and always the first to point a finger;, neglect their own duties; and the first at the water cooler to discuss their dislikes.
Sometimes they are given a position to appease a nit-picky boss who needs someone who will idolize their every word. Others are hired to return a favor for connections; information; or dare I say, “they were cute or funny”.
AN INTERVIEW WITH A RECOVERING DOORMAT
Doormats don’t always know they are doormats. I have an acquaintance who explained it to me this way. “When I was younger, I was able to gain favor from those in higher positions because I turned the other cheek so to speak. Others in the organization were not pleased that I was given a position over them, I was catered too and allowed privileges well above my status. One unhappy co-worker(s) even went as far as to write on the side of a building “my name, followed by the title, Brown Nose Pirate”.
This acquaintance is now a semi- recovering doormat, and gracefully laughs off the past. He is quick to affirm that he knows how to walk-the-walk, and talk-the-talk, and it really doesn’t bother him to think about taking future positions of the same caliber. It’s money, end of discussion.
Recovering Doormats. I wonder if there is a place for them to meet?
DEFINING THE ROLE OF THE DOORMAT
While I like money as well as the next person, I’m not sure doormat will ever be a title that would stick to me. I have the philosophy that if you are going to make positive changes in this world, you need to take risks. Risk is what business is all about. The type of risk I am referring to, is strategic planning and development of programs that support an organization. Being able to speak freely about those programs to those who make the final decisions - that is important.
Doormats don’t bring that level of planning to an organization. What they bring can be summed up in the following:
There are three different levels of doormats:
- The shy timid doormat
- The discontent with life doormat
- The professional doormat
THE SHY TIMID DOORMAT
Does anyone even know their real name? They work like a dog day-in and day-out. They keep their heads down and coward when approached with a concern. Like a pup who has been beaten, they are the defeated. Sounds sad, but there are employers who actually seek out these types of employees (in the millions). They work long hours, say nothing, think nothing, and they are often paid little. My heart goes out to these types of doormats. I have worked with a few. I have attempted to re-train them, motivate them, and speak up for them. These people need a strong voice in order to find their own. I have a heart and compassion for the shy timid doormats.
THE DISCONTENT WITH LIFE DOORMAT (Where the majority of doormats reside)
I suppose I have been guilty of hiring discontent doormats. Yes, I confess that I have done the dirty deed and hired people who do not contribute to the overall picture in the longer sense. But their jobs were important for a number of reasons:
- They have menial skills for tasks that are repetitive
- They don’t ask questions
- They smile and laugh with me and the janitor equally
- They didn’t question my authority, and I rewarded them by leaving them alone.
Even though they did tend to go from department to department stirring up their brand of discontent, it was generally regarding those much higher than my own title, and/or lower than their own. Since I ignored their office chatter and didn’t participate in their brand of office politics, they tended to leave me alone.
They get the title of doormat because they really don't do much to try to change their situation. Sometimes I think a few of think like the drama - it is fuel for their aggravation with the world. I’ve seen the discontent doormats in action however. As a force they can be nasty, but they generally run out of rhetoric quickly, and go about their duties. They are good workers - just discontent about life in general. Which brings in my thoughts about the professional doormat.
THE PROFESSIONAL DOORMAT
These types of doormats are the sleaziest type of people when it comes to having to work with. They like your pain. They like discontent - they thrive on it. These are the ones that may be educated, and have a higher level of experience, yet they don’t seem to excel when it comes to actual performance. They may look busy, but that is just a rouse. They are busy-being-busy, yet doing nothing. They are catering hand-and-foot to the higher ups. They never would they question the authority of those above them. They pass along information as if it were a weapon to control, and thus lower your status in front of everyone.
To them, passing along information is power. A power they use effectively to disrupt the moral of an entire operation. Yet they remain fabulous! They are fabulous because they have just absorbed the responsibility of passing along information, that someone above them didn’t want to deal with. They start the gossip, and they feed it daily. If you are not within their office posses pack - your life can be miserable. They contribute to nothing but an environment of fear and discouragement.
MOVING PAST THE DOORMAT
Change is always hard - but not always!
You might have to lose a few doormats that can't speak the language of your business, and start hiring people who welcome a challenge to speak in any language!
Hire people who will offer you insight and worthy content that is relevant to the position they hold. No more glorified data keepers who draw lines under numbers, write and pass pain notices, and disrupt the moral of everyone around them. Rather, begin hiring people who have a common value system that is equal with the vision for your company.
Hire people who appreciate the shy doormat, understand the discontent door mat, and can speak up against the tyranny of the professional doormat. Hire people who can train and re-train your staff to be a voice for your organization. Don’t hire people who leave your staff frightened of their jobs, and depleted of integrity.
Here is the tough part. Have the #&$%’s to admit when you recognize that you have a professional doormat that is destroying your vision, and that you hired them! You made a mistake - move on and correct the problem.
Don’t back down from tyranny - approach it head on, take that risk, invest real man(woman) power into your vision and stay on course. When you stand up to tyranny - you will see how weak it really is.
There is a saying: A man's steps are established, and the good delights in his way. Stand up for the weak, do good always- and good will follow you all the days your life.
To my old friend.... Cool Beans!