The decline of the workplace

booksI know an increasing number of good people who have lost their jobs for no apparent reason. At the same time companies are becoming less tolerant on a systemic level because of the turf battles among executives that bring defensiveness to a fever pitch.

Defensiveness requires what Chris Argyris calls fancy footwork. It is necessary to disguise shabby behavior that is unbecoming of people in high places. The riddle of all this continues to become more mystifying. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the real from the pretense.

We need to acknowledge and talk about the implications of the petrifying of management methods and attitudes. The cumulative effect of this hardening of attitudes has a profound effect on all of us.

The decline of values in the management community has many deleterious effects. Organizations lose their best people. Those who remain adopt defensive behaviors and emphasize caution over contribution. Mistrust becomes a defining characteristic of life within the organization.

We do not lack knowledge and wisdom about how to create a culture within organizations that promotes productivity, morale, and innovation. It seems to me that the growing dominance of the super rich is causing a shift in values that affects all of us in hurtful ways. This change drives out inspiration in the workplace. The emphasis on survival becomes the driving force in shaping relationships and behavior.

These shifts have significant consequences that are gaining momentum. Krishnamurti told us in his book Facing a World in Crisis, “So to learn there must be enjoyment.” People working hard to survive usually sacrifice enjoyment. Consider the long-term effects of eliminating learning from a work environment. The thought makes me shudder.

In his book Servant Leadership, A Journey Into The Nature Of Legitimate Power And Greatness, Robert Greenleaf titled one of the sections Community—The Lost Knowledge of These Times. I live in a gated neighborhood. It is not a community in any sense of the word. We do not notice the lack of community at work because we have lived this way for so long on the street where we live.

We have resources available to us that did not exist when I entered the workforce many years ago. TED Talks are one of the best. I recommend Simon Sinek and Ken Robinson to start. I suggest you go exploring if you have not used this resource before now.

My view is that we are growing increasingly numb and defensive, especially in our large institutions. This is taking us down a slippery slope. I will close by quoting Mr. Greenleaf. He said that we always have wise advisors available to us.

The variable that marks some periods as barren and some as rich in prophetic vision is in the interest, the level of seeking, the responsiveness of the hearers.

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