The Sun Still Shines - Employee Mentoring - Clear and Open

The Culture Awakens: Darth Vader Meets With Human Resources

Somewhere between the scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, the empire’s vice president of human resources invites Darth Vader to a private meeting to discuss his management style.

VP of HR: “Hello, Mr. Vader, thanks for coming, please sit down.”

Darth Vader: “I accepted your meeting not knowing what this was about, and this is a very busy time. We have the rebels on the run and–”

“I understand you’re busy, and there are some things we really need to talk about. Please do sit down.”

“Very well.”

“I just want to start out by naming the tension between our departments. We’ve brought a lot more structure to the organization and I know that change hasn’t always been easy for you. As a Dark Lord of the Sith, you’re used to getting to do things the way you want. I get that. Has operating in a more business-like environment been difficult for you?”

“There is…no conflict.”

“Well, there are some things that came to my attention that I’m concerned about. And I really want to emphasize that I’m on your side here. I want to end the rebel threat as much as you do, but there are some ways you’re going about it that I don’t think are helping you or the team in general.”

“Such as?”

“Last week you terminated Admiral Ozzel?”

“He was incompetent. He dropped the fleet out of lightspeed too close to the Hoth system, alerting the rebels–”

“And by terminated, I mean you killed him.”

“He failed me for the last time.”

“Vader, the empire is already struggling with its reputation, which is why we have the rebellion problem in the first place. What do you think the impact of killing a senior officer in front of everyone was?”

“I would expect it to improve performance.”

“So, you think employees work better in a culture of fear? What do you think it was like for Captain Piett, promoted to admiral while his predecessor was right next to him, asphyxiating while you used the force to crush his windpipe?”

“Honored to receive the promotion…?”

“Maybe, but I’m sure he felt terrified of making a mistake.”

“Hm. I think I see what you mean.”

“Vader, you’re a very strong personality, and that’s a good thing. People respect you, but you’re not very approachable. And, this might sound a bit warm and fuzzy in an Ewok kind of way, but what I see is that you’re creating a culture of fear that prevents the very engagement you want.”

“It’s not intentional. They just can’t do things as well as I can. Using the power of the force, I–”

“I get it, but it’s important you take responsibility here. They need you to teach them, and they can’t learn if they’re afraid of you. Defeating the rebels is going to take everyone’s best. They can’t bring their best in a culture of fear.”

(Vader mutters underneath his breath and then catches himself) “Perhaps if they will not turn to the dark side, then I…Yes, okay…perhaps I have been treating them unfairly.”

“I appreciate your openness. And there are other examples. Whenever you return to the ship, you apparently have everyone line up in the landing bay?”

“A reception befitting a lord, yes.”

“That’s the thing, Vader, this isn’t the Sith Order anymore. This is a government. It’s not appropriate for people to be calling you “lord.” And do you realize how expensive it is to pull all those people away from their jobs every time you land? It sidelines their priorities and causes overwhelm. And it makes them feel insignificant, having to drop everything like that.”

“So you’re saying the things I do to try to create order are actually creating disorder?”

“Now you’re getting it, Vader. That’s the wake-up call here. You can get what you want by being more what people need. And they need a leader they feel safe around, who cares about them, not a dark lord. Dare I say, that your skills as a dark lord have both shadow and light?”

“I see…”

“But this isn’t just about them, it’s about what you want. Would you rather be loved or feared?”

“That’s a question I have not considered for a long time.”

“I think it’s a good one for you to chew on. There’s not only a big opportunity here for the empire to improve its culture, there’s a big opportunity for you to become more the kind of person you want to be. I can feel the good in you.  So, think about it, okay? Let’s schedule a time to talk next week to follow up and see where this conversation takes you.”

“Very well.”

“And Vader, one more thing. The next time you want to fire someone, we have a system for that. Please don’t use the force, okay?”

How do you hold people accountable without acting like a Sith Lord? Check out the free introduction to The Accountability Path.

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