You've got to be kidding me

You've Got to Be KiddingI can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered that phrase when the business makes–what seem to me to be–an inane request of me, in terms my emotional relationship with the company.

“We’re having a party!”

“Join us for a team building exercise!”

“Wear this shirt on this day!”

And every single time, my response? You’ve got to be kidding me.

But here’s the thing I wanted you to remember: “You’ve got to be kidding me” is a telltale sign. Pay attention.

If you’re anything like me, “You’ve got to be kidding me” is often followed by a pang of guilt. Which is immediately followed by self-criticism. I should be more of a team player. I should do what they want. I must be doing something wrong because I’m not feeling it.

But don’t be fooled. “You’ve got to be kidding me” is your intuition telling you that something is wrong. Listen to it.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” is a warning that a request is, at best, out of character and, at worst, completely insincere.

Think of companies that enjoy a near-cultish employee base. Do you think most Nike employees would respond with “You’ve got to be kidding me” if everyone was asked to wear their favorite pair of Air Jordans the day that Michael Jordan was showing up on campus? Do you think most Starbucks employees would scoff if asked to learn the names of the regulars?

No. Of course not. The company is making requests that are both in line with company goals and are sincere requests to participate in the company culture. Those employees subscribe to that culture because of its sincerity. Because it seems like the right thing to do. Because it seems honest for the company to make those kinds of requests.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” is telling you that the company is pretending. Or trying to hard. Or making a subpar effort. Or trying to take a giant leap of faith, hoping to fix a problem the easy way.

So, listen to “You’ve got to be kidding me.” It’s not the incorrect reaction. Far from it.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Career, Corporate Culture, Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You've got to be kidding me

  1. Cheyne Rood says:

    Yes, daily “spirit”-related emails waft into my inbox, and are immediately relegated to irreversable deletion. I am long past the pangs of guilt, or sympathy reads!

    You’re right that this reaction comes from the consistency with the company culture, but there is another huge factor – job/career satisfaction. If *someone* were to want out of their job, they might have the same reaction regardless of sincerity.

  2. Rick Turoczy says:

    Completely agree. It’s a warning.

    Now, whether that warning is a) this business is broken or b) this business is not for me, is a often the crux of the issue.

    Either way, it’s a sign that it’s likely time to move on.

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