Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
America is a bright-side nation.
For us, the glass is half-full, even when our brains are half-empty.
We believe in the depths of our souls that being positive will see us to glory.
We’re positive about this.
Some employers, therefore, believe that being positive should be enshrined in the company rules.
They believe it ought to be an expectation that employees will smile and chant the corporate mantra to all.
This may not be entirely, well, legal.
I judge this from perusing a recent judgment from the National Labor Relations Board.
The case at issue involved T-Mobile’s employee handbook.
A part of it said that the company “expects all employees to behave in a professional manner that promotes efficiency, productivity, and cooperation. Employees are expected to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships with internal and external customers, clients, co-workers, and management.”
The Communication Workers of America had a negative view of this. So it asked the arbiters of the law what they thought.
The NLRB reversed a previous judgment that suggested asking for a positive attitude was just fine.
Instead, it said: “We find that employees would reasonably construe the rule to restrict potentially controversial or contentious communications and discussions.”
Surely you must be free to sit in a management meeting and call the CFO a lumbering, numb dunderhead whose only interest lies in maximizing profits so that he can build himself a tasteless mansion in Palm Beach.
You have to be free to muse that the Head Of Sales wouldn’t know their kneecaps from the Arc De Triomphe.
And then there’s the freedom to be surly.
Some days, you’re just not in the mood. You might know you have to encounter a client who has all the charm of a rabid rodent and all the good reason of a member of the Armenian mafia after ten shots of Aquavit.
This doesn’t mean that the expression of your honest mood suddenly constitutes an offense to a positive work environment.
It merely means you’re human.
Of course, the NLRB’s ruling doesn’t give carte blanche to suddenly act like a permanent punk — though it’s astonishing how many of those types rise to the top.
Dissent, disruption, offense and a whole host of other negativities can be managed in many ways.
There’s something, though, at least slightly heartening that the law allows you to have a bad day. Or even several.
After all, if everyone came over all Truman Show at work, what a desperate place it would be.
Everyone would be smiley robots. No one would express anything remotely resembling the truth.
Wait, this is exactly what Silicon Valley is trying to create, right?