Ask people what is wrong in their workplace and you can get an avalanche of woes and with just a little push, as many ideas for fixing them. At least that’s what it sounds like when nobody up the management hierarchy is present. Professor Chris Argyris of Harvard wrote about this a long time ago and frankly the cleaner could have told us that (An Interview with Chris Argyris). What he added were his observations of behaviours that seemed to maintain this situation – behaviours that undermined the ability of the organisation to learn and make appropriate changes. Behaviours that reinforced the social, power structure (hierarchy) and just as often the beliefs and attitudes people held about others. He called these behaviours ‘Organisational Defensive Routines’. Argyris identified that it took a lot of skill to use and maintain these routines. (They can be used to resist change.)
It has struck me that Argyris’s observations has similarities to the observations of Dr. Eric Berne who developed Transactional Analysis (TA) – an approach management trainers flirted with about three to four decades ago. Berne documented interactions in people’s lives that he referred to as ‘Games’. See ‘Games People Play’. Some of the games are relevant to work life and I’m sure we could identify a few that Dr. Berne has missed. One of the fun and obvious games is ‘Harassed’. Here people spend time complaining about workloads and how stressed the situation is. Importantly the participants never take positive steps to rationalise the work and will even take on new tasks. There can be auxiliary games like ‘Lunchbox’ which revolves around eating at your desk, avoiding structured breaks and appearing very committed. The games have a number of benefits including ready-made explanations for any failures/delays/poor standards and evidence of irrational managerial indifference to staff and workloads etcetera. At some point everybody is unhappy with the situation, however in the way that they are supposed to be, leading to the paradoxical conclusion that everybody is happily unhappy. Continue reading
Be innovative and compete but never be a whistleblower.
Image supplied by jscreationzs, Freedigitalphotos.net
Limitations to Your Rights as a Citizen Okay I know some of this is written specifically into your contract but I am just making sure you understand. I wouldn’t want you saying the wrong thing and embarrassing somebody. This should be read in conjunction with: ‘Putting your job ahead of your family’.
You will put your role as a corporate employee ahead of your role as a citizen. You will not make known to anybody any corporate legal, ethical, moral or ecological transgressions. Specifically you are not to speak to the media or anyone who might actually do something about it.
What you can do! If you absolutely must speak out then present the problem weakly to a superior who will tell you how to think about the issue. Then with a nod and wink to your superior let them know you are savvy, to be trusted and therefore possible management material. Do not do this often as you may not appear to have sufficient moral and intellectual control … the kind required for an executive role. If you do this repeatedly you will be labelled and sent to ‘special projects’.
Definitely Don’t Do This! Speak out loudly or publicly. You will be treated as a whistle blower. The whistleblower is the Continue reading
I love this photo! The late 1950s or early 60s and some of these lads are forging the contract we live with today. The young man in the front seat goes on to lead this national level ‘corporation’ into the computer age.
Peter O’Reilly 2013 ©
I wrote most of the following a long time ago. It applies more or less to most private corporations and many public ones. It would be interesting to know how it goes with NGOs and community organisations. I’ve since written another attachment to go with this one. I’ll share it another day. Enjoy and thanks for reading! Feel free to share this but please acknowledge me and where it came from.
Your Corporate Contract: The Small Print:
This attachment forms part of your employment contract but is never to be discussed or mentioned. Specific components of the contract may be referred to when explaining/complaining about how difficult your work life is – however this attachment to the contract is to remain confidential. Actually you don’t need to be shown this at all – you just know it!
- You are to put your family’s interests ahead of your own – but not your employers.
- You are to give your employer and career precedence over your family on a day to day basis. You are allowed to deny this but not to do anything about it.
- Do not claim any overtime or even suggest that there is such a thing as ‘regular hours’. Act as if whatever you are doing is ‘normal’.
- You are to put your employer and career ahead of your health until such time as it fails you – then after a short period of support, you’re on your own – so have health and income cover. You will be erased from everybody’s memory the following week.
- Take pride in the fact that you go to work sick. Spreading germs gives others the opportunity to test their commitment to the organisation.
- You are expected to: