EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I hope no one will be offended by the thought that corporations are reptilian. All I mean to imply by this statement is that although corporations appear to have human elements, they actually have no feelings.

We have all met and in fact we may individually have been dedicated employees, but in many respects, to have feelings about a corporation is similar to having feelings about a car, boat or a house. In and of themselves, they are not caring creatures. The “warm fuzzies” we may associate with inanimate objects is derived from their interaction and our interaction with actual people. Good times with friends, family or business associates in a particular setting are always in a human context.

What fools us about companies perhaps is that there are people we have come to know and respect who are a part of these entities we call corporations. You are certainly welcome to care about them and how they might feel about various actions you might take from time to time. People are always important. Hey, that’s what networking is all about.

When I speak with members about their jobs, especially when they have recently left them, the stories about what has happened to “the company” are very strong in their minds as if they had some great importance in and of themselves. If only “the company” hadn’t done this or that, they might still be there. This to my mind has elements of misplaced thinking.

Early in your career, if you were fortunate to work for one of the many “Great Corporations” that have existed over the past 50 years, you honestly had the feeling that “the company” was going to take care of you. This feeling transcended in many respects “the people” who worked at the company. There was a method to the madness of it all. The company had folkways and ways of doing business that were institutionalized. But, it was the people who actually executed on these concepts. The shared values of a company are, I suppose, inbred by their hiring practices.

It is all very well and good to ascribe human aspects to these entities, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your doing what is best for you.

Worrying about the company shouldn’t go a whole lot further (with the exception of your job responsibilities) than you being concerned about it making payroll. It is an economic entity, not an actual person. On the other hand, you should be very concerned about how your fellow executives feel about you, because it is these individuals who actually act as references and referral sources.

When we all look back upon the very positive experiences we have had over our careers, it is easy to confuse the company with the people who worked there.

As the staff sergeant in my Army squad once said: “There’s nothing wrong with the Army, it’s just the people in it.” My response to him was that for once we were in perfect agreement. (As you can imagine, I have cleaned up his remarks a bit for our “G” rated audience.)

Regards, Matt

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