I Am Done Playing Nice

I’m a baby in the work force. I know this and I’ve accepted it. However, there is something that continues to bug me:

Just because I’ve only been working a “real” job since 2006 doesn’t mean I don’t have value to add to the conversation.

I can only justify this kind of behavior with one thought: FEAR.

Yes, I am awesome, intelligent and bring great ideas to the table. It is what it is – I am a fire cracker.  And guess what organizations? You stifle the folks coming into your organizations with ideas on how to make things better and bring you to the next level and THEY WILL LEAVE.

Just because the economy isn’t what it once was, it does not mean that there aren’t jobs out there for people who want to leave. I watch it happen all the time. Your associates want to feel like they bring value to the organization.  Their engagement is important as I have ranted about before.

Organizations do not grow by doing things the same.

Change is inevitable.

Accept it or not,  it is going to happen anyway.

I remember sitting in a meeting around the culture and inclusion work I do in my current role and an executive said very matter-of-factly,  “Those who do not embrace the change happening will not fit in the organization five years from now.” And to that I say, “BAM.”  And to all the folks who have been in their organizations for 20 plus years? We aren’t wiping you out, dudes. You’ve created the foundation we are working on to help make us better.

Quit making me feel like a stiflin’ fool or I’m going to kick you in the shins. I’m feisty, I’ll bring back-up. Fine, I really won’t kick anyone but I’m done playing nice.

Photo credit iStock Photo

Cindy is our Women of HR Featured Contributor this week. Click over to meet her and see what she has to say about herself, her career and her views on the workplace and its challenges today.

About the Author

Cindy Janovitz

Cindy Janovitz works for a great Fortune 500 company in Minnesota. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Cindy has a passion for working with and helping people and a love for organizational culture. Three words Cindy uses to describe herself are energetic, passionate, and driven. You can connect with Cindy on Twitter as @cindyelizabeth


Cathy Shanes

It seems to me that the companies are changing their mindset regarding innovative employees – now they are craving to get one of them, because the reality made them understand that those who don’t move forward soon enough appear out of the picture. However, which is very surprising, the companies who tell you ‘we hired you to work not to bring ideas’ still exist, but I think it’s only the matter of time that they will try to catch up with the others.

Jessica Miller-Merrell


The world of work is changing. I was never compelled to sit around and pay my dues when I had opinions, ideas, and suggestions that I believed could make the company I worked for and my department a better place. I was labeled a confident trouble maker and I worked to learn the fine art of office politics. So in October of 2009, I took my chances and left the corporate world to plow my own road.

Even though I am 32 (nearly 33), and what I like to think as experienced, the young professional labels rears it’s ugly head. This is especially the case since becoming a first time mother in my 30’s. People immediately think I am in my mid-20’s.

Be confident in who you are. Find a mentor in your organization and work to let people know your intentions. Ask for what you want and be clear but gentle.

The world of work is changing and with posts like this you can help to change the future.




Organizations and new-leaders need to co-evolve with one another. The problems our orgs face today can’t be solved with the same kind of thinking they’ve been using. An interesting question I see is whether there are current leaders that are humble enough to allow that to happen. To not allow it to happen is to continue “command-and-control” in another form. The companies that chose this path, I suspect, will not be around for very long.

Lori Morgan

Great post Cindy! My background is advertising/marketing and I used to work in advertising for a Fortune 500 company–at the time; today it no longer exists. Just so you know, advertising women can be some of the most catty in the job space. I was told that me and my young (25 and almost thru my MBA) peers needed to be quiet in meetings. Our job was to take notes; we were not to have an opinion. That was in 2000. I left…went to a start-up where my voice was important, was promoted to management within 6 month and have never worked in a corporate environment again. You could say I was tainted.

Jennifer Payne

Just had a chance to read this…and love your attitude. Keep up with that enthusiasm and channel it into great ideas that you can drive and deliver on and you are bound to make an impact! A great reminder to all of us to not lost sight of our passion, even when things get tough. Nice post!


Wow wow wow. I am so overwhelmed (in a good way) but all the comments here!

Shaun, I certainly am not the smacking around type – okay, maybe a little. 🙂 But I mean it in the best way possible.

Peter, even I need reminders of this same thing myself as I become more engrossed into my company culture – good or bad, we’re not perfect; so thanks for the comment.

Matthew, thank you! I think we’ll start seeing shifts in the workplace around this. At least, I hope so.

HR Introvert, thank you so much for your comment! I try to strike a balance between being “bold” and putting my ideas on the table and encourage others to do the same. I’m lucky in the fact that I work a lot with our culture & inclusion dept. which battles the “old” culture as we move forward and make a shift as many companies are right now. So I love being equipped with the skills to put myself out there and lean into discomfort on this topic in the right way and I am able to share my learnings with coworkers. It’s great!

Anna, thank you! I’m glad my post resonated with you.

Laurie, you are absolutely spot on. I’d say for the last year and a half I’ve struggled with the fact that I have zero say in “important decisions” and only recently have taken on the mindset of “I can impact my direct customers.” When I go into my work this way, I find myself less frustrated and people don’t think I’m as crabby. As you said, the nature of work is that only a few people really make decisions and I may never be that person.

Business Guru, I am not going to apologize for my post nor will I be thinking, “dude, that was so ridiculous.” in twenty years because guess what? This is my experience and my experience is not going to change. Not once did I say all my ideas are “zomg great.” But the more organizations continue to stifle ANY new person in the organization, young or old, the more organizations are going to stay in one place and not grow. Innovation is where the world is going – get on the horse or not, cowboy; but this is reality. And BAM.

Charlie, you rock. Thank you for your continued support! I feel so lucky to know you and have you on my side. 🙂

Richard, you are absolutely right. Organizations are rooted in their history and that is what has made them successful. I find that people in organizations who are part of history are resistant to change. I think it’s important to acknowledge the work they have done and help them understand the link between the past, present and future. I am really excited to see what is going to happen in business in the next tens years – it’s going to be a bumpy, but fun ride.

Charee, I love your comment! At work, I’m involved in our effort to change our current culture and we constantly say, “Change in the middle feels like failure” and boy do I have my internal scars to prove it. But change wouldn’t be so scary if it wasn’t worth it.

Terra, bingo, lady. Companies are going to need to collaborate more going forth. Heck, even looking at organizations like SHRM and other smaller HR networking groups in individual cities and locations – it’s all about best practice sharing and working in teams vs. working solo. Even in the last 3.5 years, it’s been fun to watch change happen.


I once had a manager say to me, “I hired you to work, not for your ideas.” I sought out other opportunities within days and had a new position with a company that valued team input whether they agreed with our opinions or not…in three weeks.

The company that “hired me to work,” is no longer in business.

I think Laurie R brings up a great point about decisions being made at the top, and sometimes we do just need to deal with it. However, I agree with you that company cultures where those with ideas are stifled, may fail to adapt to the demands of their customers, their employees, and even their leaders at the risk of their own failure.

Charee Klimek

Nailed it! Way to bring the heat Cindy.

If you’re not feeling the pain, you’re not changing your game.

People (at any level) have to actually put a lot of effort into change – for the long haul.

The very reason most people resist it all together.

Personally, I refuse to listen to anyone talking change unless they’ve got the scars to prove it.

Richard Sherman

I like posts that get us talking and thinking and pushing. I like people in an organization who participate, consider, and convince. And like many things, I think this is yet another area of a bit-of-this-and-a-little-of-that: We HAVE to challenge ideas, even if it’s just to shake it and make sure it’s still rooted in common sense and is good for the organization. Likewise we MUST use our intellectual curiosity in a considered manner and pay attention to history and all the work that got us here in the first place.

Like Laurie, I am a realist and know that power rests with the few and, often, hidden. So keep the faith, push when pushing is needed, and learn from others the power flows of the business, and target your ideas to have the most effective impact.

Thanks for getting me out of my head for the moment…

Charlie Judy

Dear Business Guru,

I’ve been around for close to 20 years in the business world. I only hope I don’t turn into someone like you once I hit 20+. I would kill to have someone like Cindy on my team – this is exactly the kind of energy, attitude, and commitment we need.

‘Years of Experience’ is no longer a badge of honor worth wearing…

Yours Truly,

Business Sponge

Business Guru

Just a thought “dude”…perhaps the folks who have been around 20+ years actually know a thing or two. Perhaps THEY are ALSO tired of “playing nice” with you, but they continue to do so (patiently, I might add) because they know you are young and have lots to learn and contribute to the organization.
News flash….not every “old-timer” is threatened by you. And “BAM” – not every idea you have is “AWESOME”. So check your young, in-experienced ego at the door and learn to listen and observe. It is the blending of wisdom, education and experience that makes for great business decisions. All the arrogance in the world won’t change that. Oh and put your blog away and read it again in 25 years…I bet you will agree with me by then.

laurie ruettimann

Okay, so I had the same exact moment in 2001. I told my friend Jeff, who worked in communications, that I was sick of being overlooked. Why aren’t they consulting me, I demanded?

He said, “You’re 26 and you work in HR. That should answer your question right there. And you should know something else — there’s a tight group of people who make all the decisions at a company. You’re not part of that group. You might never be part of that group. Get used to it. Do the best you can.”

And I was like, F THAT, he’s so wrong.

But he’s not.

We perceive that other people have power and we don’t — except that only 2 or 3 people at any given company have power and it’s not the people we think.

So know this: we’re all minions — no matter our gender OR how old we are. That’s not very comforting, but that’s the nature of work.

HR Introvert

Nicely said. One of the advantages of my preferred work style is that I tend to listen well. I am not surprised when a relative newcomer brings great ideas, in fact I’ve come to expect it. I may be part of the foundation, but I am expecting this generation to build better solutions than I could imagine. Be bold and never apologetic in making yourself heard. That’s authenticity, and I applause you for that.


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