This is a story about Brian and Kevin. I’ve never met Brian or Kevin and only spoken to them briefly but they pretty much bookend modern corporate life. Most of us, in dealing with the faceless, nameless monoliths that epitomize corporate culture, run across way too many Kevins and not nearly enough Brians.
And that’s a strange thing when you stop to think about it.
Most people are hardwired to be Brians. Most people, especially when they start out in a new job, a job with promise for the future and a clear shot at advancement and all the benefits rising through the ranks brings, strive to be Brians. With the exception of pathologically damaged people, no one sets out in life to be Kevin. Kevins are created. Too often, as, I suspect, Kevins like the ones I met up with last week are created by the social and cultural forces prevalent where they work.
Corporate culture creates Kevins.
Not all corporate cultures, mind you. Just, it seems, far too many.
Brian and Kevin both work for the phone company you love to hate: Telus.
Telus is not enjoying what most companies would think of as a particularly good reputation in Whistler right now. For that matter, I’m not certain Telus is enjoying a good reputation in any of its markets. Largely, the animosity people feel toward Telus has its roots in the corporate culture which, naturally, has its roots in the company’s top management. The culture — toxic — is marked by arrogance, incompetence, indifference and a general distrust of both its customers and, oddly enough, the other people who work for the company.
The brass at Telus will deny this. They’ll say their customers are the most important thing in the world to them and their employees are the most important thing in the world to them. But sayin’ it don’t make it so.
My current sojourn into Telus Hell began early in February, around the time it began to look like we’d actually be moving into our new WHA digs at Nita Lake. All we wanted was a simple answer to a simple question: Will we have phone service when we move at the end of the month?
The answers we got were: Yes; no; yes but we’d have to change our phone number; no but we’d be able to keep our phone number when we eventually got phone service; I don’t know whether or not you’ll have phone service; and, of course, maybe.
During one memorable conversation, this exchange took place.