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Saturday, July 2

The Changing (American) Workplace: A dominant motivation seems to be fear

The Changing Workplace
Dave Schuler
July 1, 2016
The Glittering Eye

The project I’ve been working on since September 2014 has ended. It didn’t end in any sort of satisfying way—just sort of fizzled out. I’ve devoted the last several weeks to maximizing the client’s ability to salvage the work.
For ethical reasons I’m still reluctant to share exactly what I was doing. Suffice it to say that the project offered me an opportunity to see the workings of the State of Illinois at close hand. What I observed was tremendous management nonfeasance. I don’t think that’s limited to government. I think it’s a factor in all large American organizations these days, public or private.
I tend to be a kind of rainmaker wherever I go and in whatever I’m involved with and this project was no exception. At times I felt as though I were dragging the entire organization behind me.
When timely management decisions are not forthcoming either of two things or both may happen. One is that you will be overcome by events—the opportunity for making an effective decision will be taken away from you by changing circumstances. The other is that policy decisions will be made by junior personnel without either your or even their being aware that’s what’s happening. It is unclear to me why managers would want policy decisions to be made by junior personnel. I won’t tolerate it and I won’t let it happen.
One of the things that I noticed in a modern workplace is that a dominant motivation appears to be fear. Fear of losing one’s job, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of giving offense, fear of having the wrong opinions.
I’m old, I’m a decent person, I’m competent, and I’m confident so none of those things bother me. I stick out like a sore thumb.
But it’s no way to run a railroad, either for accomplishing the organization’s goals, for maintaining esprit de corps, or for the personal well-being of people.


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