In Search of Meritocracy



Don’t you hate it when bad things happen to good people, especially when good things are happening to bad people?

I’m the first to say that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are all relative things. Today’s victims may be tomorrow’s offenders and vice versa. And also that things are not always the way they appear, and things happen for a reason, etc.

However, as a coach, I hear about injustices all the time! Each time, I’m affronted and appalled at what people are doing to each other. And each time, I think about what could that person do about it, what could teams do about it, what could companies do about it, and if we all worked together, what could do all do together to tip the scales more toward meritocracy and away from political games.

With those thoughts in mind, and with the intent that we each do our small part in shaping what happens to us and those around us, here are my thoughts on what we could do about it.

  1. Intentionally not including someone who-should-be-in-a-group, in an e-mail, in an outing, in a meeting, etc., is a negative incentive or punishment and does not support a meritocracy. Instead, it’s far kinder and less work to opt for direct and transparent communication about why you or the group are leaving someone out, no matter how difficult the conversation. (And if there is no reason to intentionally leave someone out, examine why you and the group are doing so, and what the potential up-sides and down-sides are for doing so.)
  2. Not saying something directly to offenders, and rousing othersto pit against those-who-left-you-out (or whatever other wrong was done to you) is an unproductive use of time and energy. Have a direct conversation with offenders and seek to understand. (Seek help if you need it after you’ve tried the direct approach.)
  3. Intentionally withholding information and resourcesfrom others within the organization, even if they are from competing internal teams, is an unproductive use of time and resources. Find the win-win in working together collaboratively
  4. Intentionally mis-representing someone’s actions and wordsto their dis-credit, whatever the reason, is more a reflection on you than it is a reflection of them. Others will discover this quickly and be wary of all that you say and do.
  5. To do an about-face on a decisionbased on pressure from others (rather than on facts) is disloyal to the direction and people you first adopted *and* to the new direction and people you’re leaning toward. Make the right choice based on facts and merit and stick with it.
  6. There is no excuse for telling bold-faced lies. And using ‘data’ to back up the lies doesn’t change the fact that it’s a lie. You may win a battle here and there with these lies, but never the war. And the lies will catch up with you. Plus you have to live with yourself, regardless of whether they do.
  7. Purposely mis-understanding the intentof someone’s communication to their detriment or to your benefit is a form of a lie. See #5 above.
  8. Taking credit for someone else’s workis a form of a lie. See #5 above.
  9. Assigning or manipulating someone else to do the work and taking the credit for itis worse than #8 above.
  10. Pretending to be someone’s friend and taking advantage of the friendshipis a lie upon a lie. Need I say more?

I hope that this post helps each of us take steps in search of meritocracy within a business, no matter where we sit in the totem pole, no matter how we are directly or indirectly affected by the actions of others.

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