Is There Crying in Business?

One of the more memorable lines in the movie A League of Their Own was uttered when Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, lambasted the right-fielder Evelyn Gardner, played by Elizabeth Schram, for throwing to the wrong base and letting a couple of runs score. Dugan, who didn't want the job in the first place, chewed her out in front of the entire team and everyone in the stands and she began to cry, at which point the incredulous Dugan said "Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball! The umpire politely chastised Dugan, and when he responded "Has anyone ever told you that you look like a peanut wearing a little hat?" he was promptly thrown out of the game, to the cheers and applause of the very team he was managing. 

     Twenty-three years later comes news that employees at Amazon have been seen crying at their desks. The report is that workers are encouraged to tear apart one another's ideas in meetings and toil long, exhausting hours, and then are challenged as to why emails arriving past midnight are not immediately answered. The belief is that conflict brings about innovation. Their top recruiter is quoted as saying "This is a company that strives to do really big, innovative, groundbreaking things, and those things are not easy. The nature of the work is challenging and for some people it doesn't work." No kidding. They cry at their desk. 

     It is no secret that many companies have a "burn 'em and churn 'em" philosophy. Ask any rookie analyst at a Wall Street investment banking firm. Pay rookies pretty well, work them to death with 70 or 80 hour weeks, and replace them with eager, less expensive employees when they burn out. Hey, why not? It builds the bottom line and makes more money for the partners.

     Think about existing in a work environment like this. The constant pressure to perform-or else. It is disappointing to learn that an anchor business headquartered in prosperous Seattle is acting like this, but the really sad thing is that study after study has indicated that companies perform exceptionally well when employees are encouraged, supported, praised and valued. 

     How would you describe the work environment in your firm? Great leaders support, praise, compliment and encourage their employees. They are happy and feel good about themselves and their companies do really well. 

     Employees: cherished team members or abused commodities? Tyrant or cheerleader? The choice is yours. 


Tracy Bech