In a New York Times Corner Office interview Kathleen Flanagan, President/CEO of Abt Associates, recalled her first meeting with management as the new 29-year old leader of a business unit of Abt. Continue reading
If the Occupy movement is to succeed then it must lead us to understand that the economic system is not broken but that it is fundamentally flawed. What we are experiencing is nothing but an ill-conceived system taken to its inevitable conclusion: The privatization of society and the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. Continue reading
Jared Bernstein offers valuable thoughts on the relationship between education and work. He argues quite credibly that the wage return on higher education has leveled off since about the 1990’s. Bernstein asserts this is not because of a mismatch between what corporations need and what higher education institutions provide. However he does claim “we’d have a better economy/society with higher levels of educational attainment…to have smarter, better educated people in all of those jobs makes all the sense in the world.”
However the price one pays for his/her education should be commensurate with the ability that his/her education provides him/her to pay for it while at the same time affording the necessities of a healthy life. Continue reading
Monthly we are told that the unemployment rate is essentially stuck in the neighborhood of 9% and that the real unemployment is more like 17 to 20%. We have about 25 million people unemployed and without the means to provide for the essential basic human needs. Those without jobs don’t need the monthly figures to tell them how bad things are.
While the unemployment rate is far less than heart warming, what is happening to many who still have a job is almost as dehumanizing. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being IndexÒ from 2008 through 2011 the work environment has been getting worse year-after-year.
What this means is that there is a 4-year declining trend in job satisfaction, treatment by supervisors, openness and trust in the workplace and the ability to use one’s strengths at work. As noted in a Knowledge@Wharton article “with millions of people looking for employment, the workplace these days is an increasingly unhealthy environment for those who still have, and are trying to keep, their jobs.”
A Crime Against Humanity
Why is this happening? As previously noted the intention of many corporate executives is to squeeze labor more and more in order to realize greater and greater profit. To quote Deming, “beat horses and they will run faster—for awhile.” In a stagnant economy with a high unemployment rate most people have little recourse so they swallow what they are given, though grudgingly. They are happy to have a job but not happy with the job they have!
Treating people as fungible objects in the economic equation for the purpose of maximizing one’s own gain is not only exploitation, it is plain and simple dehumanization. No wonder people find the work environment is losing all sense of meaning and worth! You can’t dehumanize people and expect human potential to continue to be available: In the end everyone loses.
We each seek work that not only provides the means for existence we also need work to provide a way to meaning in our existence! People need to be humanly productive through work, and not just materially productive at work. Accordingly, the more the workplace aligns with our humanness, the more humanly and materially productive the organization will be.
We Need Not Manage This Way
The issue is not whether those in authority within our organizations can get away with objectifying people, but whether people in management should treat other people this way. Those who argue for this way of managing might say that the organization must show quarter-to-quarter profit gains and therefore gains by whatever means are justified. Unfortunately justified action does not imply just action!
When you treat people as objects, you are essentially disregarding their humanness, and yours as well. When is this ever a good idea? Isn’t it time we stop to re-think what we are doing to each other (an unavoidably our self)? Isn’t it time to envision and enact a better way of leading?
Since we participate in creating our reality, if we desire to live in a human world then we each must enact it. Isn’t it time that we act out of our personhood and not from an objectified view of our self.
If not now then when is a better time? Have we really the time to waste?