"This place will miss me when I'm gone."
That phrase is like a salve to many a frustrated corporate employee. Within it lies a plea for recognition that what they do forty or more hours a week has at least a scrap of value. In their daydream, that value would be measured in a future without them where nothing gets done at the office, where the place literally shuts down in their absence.
Sadly, it is just that -- a daydream.
The remarkable quality of Corporate America and the thing that can be attributed to its success is an ability to adapt. Like the \\ that loses its tail, corporations can seamlessly regenerate another with surprising swiftness. This trait is never more pronounced than in how it deals with employee turnover. Losing talent feels like it should have devastating consequences. But time and again that belief is disproved. It happens every time someone loses their job, quits in frustration, naively tries to find validation at another skyscraper... and the corporation presses on without ever missing a beat.
It just grows another tail.
Consultants and management gurus like to personify the corporation in their narratives. They apply a "life" to the company and often attribute the "lifeblood" to the humans occupying the floors and cubicles. There is something "living" about a company but the organism is the corporation itself.
Accepting this view of the company and our role in it is somewhat empowering. In order to stop being disappointed, one should stop looking for validation where none lies. We are not the corporation. It will continue to live without us, like the salamander does when it loses its tail.
So stop trying to find value there. Take the salary, health insurance and retirement package and find your "value" outside the office. It will be a much more rewarding experience.
PAUL MACDONALD is a twenty-year vet of Corporate America and survives through the writing of the Chuck Restic Mystery Series. He has endured countless PowerPoint decks, offsite retreats and visioning sessions, synergies and synergistically-minded cross-functional teams, to bring the series to life.