Conformity is a Big Fat Rung on the Corporate Ladder | HR Fishbowl

VACATION ARCHIVE: I’m on vacation and so is my mind…and my writing skills…and this blog. Here’s one that was originally published back on May 20, 2010. Enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying the beach.

The end must be near, hell might freeze over, and I could swear I just saw a pig sprout wings.  Why?  Because one of my best friends from college is getting married and no one thought that was possible…ever.  He’s the last to go.  He’s a man’s man.  He parties like a 70′s rock star.  But he’s also deeply philosophical…an architect.  He’s attractive and hilarious and it’s easy to see why women dig him.  But settle down after all these years?  Maybe it’s time, maybe he really is in love, or maybe he’s an idiot. Not my call…I’m happy for the guy.

One thing is for sure.  He joins the rank-in-file.  He suddenly loses some of what makes him unique.  My friend has nothing really to do with the workplace or HR or my blog, but he got me thinking about how much uniqueness is at a premium in corporate America. I’m not talking about diversity – that’s different (pardon the pun).  I’m talking about the acceptance – for example – of ”abnormal” behavior or quirky communication or flamboyant wardrobe or f’d up sense of humor; essentially, there is very little appetite for non-conformity in the workplace.  I got some flack for my post yesterday: Approach Becomes Reproach.  A few of my readers basically told me I was “selling-out.”  I’ve thought about that a lot.  Is conformity merely a relinquishment of one’s self? Or is it a career survival tactic? Is conformity an all or nothing proposition?  Or can one successfully test the boundaries?  I would suggest (based strictly on my own experiences) that those who go furthest up the corporate ladder are those who conform more closely to those on the rungs above them. Those who are extremely capable of producing but less capable of conforming will move up the ladder, but only so far. Those who can’t conform at all? Well, they’ll be lucky to even see the ladder. And I think that sucks.

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