ONE OF the most predictable things about being a wage slave in January is the motivational new year memo that drops into your inbox from your CE.
Sometimes the message is short, sometimes long; either way, it always makes the same point. It says: I am marvellous, you are (rather less) marvellous, we are marvellous together — but if you could just bring yourselves to work a bit harder, we would be more marvellous still.
Despite their ubiquity, these e-mails are invariably useless. There never was an employee who did better work or felt more committed on the strength of a mass memo sent out by a boss. It simply can’t happen. Although they can’t motivate, these messages can do the reverse.
Last Thursday, Punit Renjen, CE of Deloitte Global, sent new year greetings to staff with the unpromising title: "Let’s swap resolutions: Living our purpose #12".
After obtaining a copy, I read it and at first I laughed. But then I read it again — and again. Renjen has composed something so ugly, so empty and so downright stupid, it is hard to go on laughing.
Deloitte employs more than 220,000 people. It advises big companies that pay vast amounts of money for its services. That its chief should talk such nonsense is a bit of a worry. Many of the people who work there are bright, yet anyone in possession of even a normal IQ could not fail to read the message and wonder what on earth they were doing working there.
The memo gets off to an unexceptionable, if cheesy, start: "We have said ‘Hello, 2016!’ and now it is time for resolutions."
Renjen’s own resolution is "to deliver an exceptional, and consistent, global talent experience across the Deloitte network".
There are three things wrong with this. First, it is full of all my worst words — experience, deliver and talent. Second, it is pure hype.
No one can be exceptional all the time. The point about being exceptional is that it only happens as an exception.
Worst, Renjen doesn’t let on exactly what he is resolving to do. What is a "global talent experience"? Who is supposed to be having it? Is it the "talent" itself? Are we all supposed to be having global talent experiences as we go about our daily jobs? I sincerely hope not.
After stating his resolution, the Deloitte boss leads his staff into a forest of guff so thick and dark that they are unlikely ever to get out again.
"This promise," he goes on, "is articulated through four key pillars: 1) to help you make an impact, 2) inspire you as professionals, 3) accelerate your ambitions, and 4) connect and celebrate your unique strengths (more on these pillars soon)."
Please no more, I would be thinking if I worked there. I don’t want my ambitions accelerated.
Only on the last key pillar is Renjen on to something.
I am always a sucker for having my unique strengths celebrated — yet I fear that he is planning to do nothing of the sort. He goes on to say: "So no matter where you practice, you have the same exceptional skills as your peers."
What he seems to be saying is that everyone at Deloitte of any given rank is much of a muchness. This may be true, but it is not unique, and not very exceptional either.
In return for delivering his four key articulated pillars, he asks that they repay him by resolving "to live Deloitte’s purpose and join our journey to undisputed leadership".
I think what he is driving at is that he wants everyone to work harder. I fail to see why this requires a journey, especially not a journey leading to a fantasy destination.
You don’t need exceptional capabilities to work out that Deloitte will never achieve undisputed leadership. It is in a very competitive market with three powerful rivals, each of which recruits exactly the same sort of people and does the same sort of work.
Instead, Deloitte should aim to be at least as good as the competition: if it could pull that off consistently, it would be unstoppable.
Most fanciful of all is the way in which Renjen thinks he will achieve his ludicrous aim. It is by getting everyone to sign the "Deloitte Journey Declaration".
So far, he says, he has more than 7,400 signatories — which sounds like a lot of suckers, until you do the sums and calculate that 213,000-plus have not signed.
I fear they will not be tempted to do so by his concluding sentence: "We will take this journey so that we can proudly declare we have kept our promises to ourselves, to each other, and to all those we serve."
The e-mail is signed "My best, Punit." Well, if that’s your best, Punit, I fear for you — and for your company.