Run, don’t walk, to the nearest organization that is going to accept and celebrate your gifts and talents.

By Kent Mulkey

I was taught that showing up, working hard and reaching your goals would guarantee your success. 

Not true these days.

Now we know that the most important thing in an organization is not revenue, profit, quality products, and services or its stock price.

As Steve Moran, of Senior Housing Forum fame, is fond of saying, “The most important thing in any organization is culture.”

In any organization, when the culture is bad, you don’t even have to name it. It is rotting so bad you can smell it, like my son’s bedroom.

What often happens to top-performing people is that they didn’t make many mistakes except one fatal one: they missed the unspoken signs that their organization smelled bad enough to cast them out simply for doing what they were hired to do – create successful work*.  Are you serious?

Here are seven reasons capable and talented people increase their chances they may get the axe:

  1. You can get the axe if your excellent results on the job cause embarrassment to those “higher up” in the organization. Haven’t you learned yet the smartest people in any organization are those who work at or near the top? (cough). They would rather get rid of you than ask, “How did you do it? We’d like you to teach everyone else to do what you’re doing.”

  1. You can get the axe for asking questions no one wants to answer or even think about — questions like, “Are we sure this is still the best way to handle our (broken, cumbersome) move-in process?” or “When are we going to get serious about our nose-diving occupancy?”

  1. You can get the axe for getting too much positive attention from top leaders in your organization. Many mid-level managers see you as a friend or foe, with not much in between. You may look like a foe, a threat, if you get too much attention from those above your boss. So, stop sending love notes to the folks at the home office.

  1. You can get the axe for doing such a good job that other departments get angry (they are in truth insecure and jealous). Other managers may tell your supervisor, “Your employee is making us look bad!” The employee doing a great job is labeled a brown-noser to the boss and gossiped about.

  1. You can get the axe for having too much visibility outside your company — being asked to speak at community events, volunteering for a local charity or having an article published. If you work in an unhealthy organization, they will not appreciate the attention and affirmation you are receiving, even though it is helping gain visibility for the company.

  1. You can get the axe for moving too fast and having too many ideas for your manager’s taste. Many years ago, when I was a young director, I had a whiteboard in my office with quotes, ideas, and outlines of things I wanted to share with employees. My boss looked at it and said, “What is all of that BS?”  Ouch.

  1. You can get the axe for accomplishing so much at work that your boss wonders will this guy come after my job next? Often, people who are higher on the ladder think they are safe, doing just enough to get by, when those “below” them might just pass them by, given the opportunity.

Run, don’t walk, to the nearest organization that is going to accept and celebrate your gifts, talents and success.  Take heart, we are all fortunate there are plenty of good companies in the senior living world.  Go find them.  It will smell a whole lot better over there.

And I’ll ask my son to clean his room.

*Unless you are producing measurable, observable, successful work, which usually happens over a considerable period of time, the points made here will likely not apply.  Of course, some people’s performance, or lack thereof, warrants the axe, or at least some corrective measures.