“Up or Out” Program (Part 1)

jet_climbing_through_cloudsI am sure by this time the one person who read my blog has long since forgotten about it. I think it is necessary to state here that I don’t have a valid reason for not blogging. I guess I am just not sure that anyone will ever read it. But I suppose that I should nonetheless put my ideas into play, as I am absolutely certain that no one will know about them while they remain only in my head.
I want to talk about the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. And no, it’s not surfing the internet. It’s the big “D”… that’s employee dissonance. If you are not familiar with the term, it is a psychological term for the condition of having a conflict with your beliefs and your behaviors; what I think and what I do are not in agreement. Why is dissonance bad? Because dissonance equals stress! When people experience the big “D” they will find a way to relieve that tension by adjusting one or the other sides of the equation. For example, if I feel that my employer doesn’t value me and that I am just livestock, then I can either change that attitude or change my behavior to reflect that attitude. In other words, if I feel unvalued (or worse, devalued) then doing what is best for my employer causes dissonance, which causes stress. To relieve this, I can either convince myself that my employer cares or I can stop acting in the best interest of my company… guess which one most people choose. This is a huge problem for companies and costs untold billions per year in lost productivity. If it is not dealt with properly then it festers and companies only shoot themselves in the foot.
If you are a manager or executive and you’re reading this then check out the point of view described below:
“My employees are lucky to have a job. Do they know how hard it is out there to find work; they should be glad that we keep them on. I can’t give everybody a raise, nor can I promote everybody either. I can’t hire more people to help because that’s not in the budget. They need to stop complaining and get to work.”
If you think like this, to put it bluntly… you suck. You really suck. You suck not because you treat your employees poorly, you suck because you are getting drastically lower results from your people and sooner or later this will haunt you. This is what I call the “robot mentality,” because the manager presumes that he or she manages robots. You don’t need to care how robots feel or how their career is progressing. You can spot a “robot mentality” when you hear managers say, “I am not here to make people feel good,” or “All I care about is getting the work done.” You don’t manage robots; you manage people, all of whom come equipped with emotions, hopes and dreams, and ingrained beliefs. If you can’t see that, then you shouldn’t be a manager. I think the position for Darth Vader is open, go apply for that. You manage people and that means you take all the baggage that comes with human beings for all our flaws and idiosyncrasies. If you don’t want to face that, then bow out. It’s that simple.
You might think I am some champion for the worker. I am a champion for business. I operate under the knowledge that when labor and management are in alignment it produces extraordinary results. Don’t believe that can happen? Investigate Southwest Airlines and you will soon see how wrong you are (read The Southwest Airlines Way, or Great by Choice). Southwest is a company with a People Department; they have excellent labor (union) and management alignment, and the results speak for themselves. This is the most phenomenally successful business in modern history, bar none. It is so precisely because of its business model and how it keeps its employees aligned with that model. Do you think Southwest has lower dissonance among its employees than nearly everyone else? You would be right.
The fact is: the big “D” cost money, more that you might imagine. So, what can you do about it?

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