Capitalism’s Morality

In an article titled “The difference between private and public morality” Robert Reich states the “economy is built on a foundation of shared morality.”  So where is shared morality addressed among the precepts of our economic system? Though Reich notes, Adam Smith considered himself a moral philosopher—writing Theory of Moral Sentiments—I must add he also fashioned himself as a political economic philosopher by writing The Wealth of Nations.  The latter not the former book is the basis of our economic system.  And more to the point, the themes in these two works are far from being mutually supportive—they are as if penned by two separate individuals with different concerns—the former concerns ‘we’ and the later concerns ‘me’. Continue reading

Performance Appraisal: Pathway to Mistrust

Robert Galford’s HBR Blog Network article, “How to keep your cool during a performance review” suggest there is a widespread abhorrence and likely fear of the annual performance review.  To make what is often a not-so-good experience better Robert offers four tactics: relax; prepare yourself to hear one or more unexpected ‘somethings’; if you don’t agree with the feedback, don’t launch into a defense right away; and when it is over, say thank you, reflect on the overall message and don’t file it and forget it.   While these are no doubt helpful toward making lemonade out of a lemon, they don’t mitigate the overall effect of the annual performance appraisal process. Continue reading

Hidden Leadership Lesson #31

Those in authority can provide leadership experience to people in their organization by striving to provide them the opportunity to realize joy in work.  Accordingly, in a New York Times interview, Ori Hadomi (CEO of Mazor Robitics) asserts, “It’s important that people are happy in what they do. I believe my role is not to make people work but to give them the right working conditions so that they will enjoy what they do.”  Although few would argue against a people-centered management approach yet far too many don’t put it into practice.  Continue reading

What We Are Doing To Each Other

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?

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #29

In a New York Times interview Andrew M. Thompson, co-founder and C.E.O of Proteus, spoke about how he advances the capability of his company by creating and maintaining what he calls “ a leadership culture as opposed to a management culture.”  As Andrew noted, “culture in our company is a really big deal, and we have a values system built around quality, teamwork and leadership.” Continue reading