Labor and management: What are the problems and what are the solutions? Boy wouldn’t it be nice to solve everything in a few words. Well, actually, most everything, believe it or not does revolve somehow around shame and humiliation. Yes, it is unfortunately, in some aspects, equivalent to saying that everything revolves around E=mc2 , and then saying that is nice but what can I about it? Well it is not quite that bad. We might go with an example.
The world of work is complex and varied but we have to start somewhere. There is an organization of labor and that often consists of people who manage and others that do the actual labor of the enterprise. Of course in many enterprises the two roles are often mixed. Nevertheless the division has been applied to everything from the arts to making cars.
What is for sure these worlds often do not overlap and they are in fact parallel universes and this can be a huge problem and set up for shame and humiliation between the worlds and cultures.
An example is that management has to promote within its ranks executive talent. These people by necessity will often have very little experience, often no more than a year or so but they are seen as “rising” stars. They are then put in charge of the “talent.” Who are the “talent” anywhere from famous Rock Stars to, a clinic full of experienced physicians or a chief with fifteen years experience at the top of her game. The problem with the manager is that they have to, as they see it, gain “respect.”
Anyone who has been in the work place probably anticipates what I am going to say. The age old way of gaining “respect” is to “put people in their place” and “show’m who’s boss.” This is done in any number of ways. Whether the new manager has the back of their superiors will be played out but that is neither here nor there for my point the point is people use, so often, shame and humiliation as the tool. Not out of “choice” but as the default mechanism as there is no recognized other standard of “respect” of a tried and true way of “the right way to do things,” a set of minimal set of standards of human rights. There is a basic our stupidity of not knowing any better. Why is it that we do not know that such actions only serve to alienate, drive performance down and drive talent away?
Ad nauseum I hear the stories such as when the boss continually comes by a unit of a highly talented team at near closely time with and entourage and keeps everyone for two or three hours. Or the middle manager that has increased profits by 80 percent over last year and takes no time off coming in some hours ever days saying “now we want to make sure your putting in your hours.” And the big boss making clear that “Profits were still not good enough you know.” So, how many a reader recognizes the parent who would never praise an “A” but asked “Well child I am disappointed that you didn’t get an A+.”
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090