In my former job as a manager in a past life time a gazillion years ago, I began to notice a strange correlation. There seemed to be a direct correlation between how ineffective a manager was and how many of those sucky motivational posters they had on their office walls.
The higher the number of photos of beautiful sunsets and teams rowing together and employees high-fiving each other with cheesy quotes like, “Together we all win” the more out of touch the manager seemed to be about what was actually going on in their department.
To me, this takes the old concern about doing things that are merely going to be viewed as “window dressing” to a rather literal level.
I imagined that employees entering these offices would, at least silently, roll their eyes when they saw the posters on the wall, because the disconnect between what the posters were saying and their reality was so enormous!
Which is why, truth be told, I enjoy the sarcastic motivational posters better put out by Despair Inc. :
I know, I know, maybe not the most positive form of humor out there, and as someone who speaks about using positive humor effectively in the workplace and who advises people to be wary of sarcasm, it may seem like I’m not following my own advice.
But the thing is, the Despair posters just ring more true to me! They’re funny, they’re real, they laugh at the absurdities in our workplace, they remind us to be humble and not take ourselves too seriously, and they laugh at my very own “motivational-feel-good” industry that offers, in my humble opinion, too many empty platitudes and too many empty calories.
After all, as the Despair poster on motivation says: “If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.”
Michael Kerr, March, 2011. www.humoratwork.com
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