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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Unrest Among Tech Ranks -- CNET News.Com reports on a survey of 1,100 workers and 300 executives at medium and large companies across North America.
"The study, released last week, found that people relate to their work on a personal level, basing much of their satisfaction on whether their job provides them a sense of confidence or control over their destinies. "Employees are not apathetic or indifferent, as many suppose. In fact, people have very strong emotions about their work," researchers wrote.

"The study said that one of the reasons workers are so grumpy is because managers wrongly interpret why employees are so disgruntled. Some of the major reasons that workers cite for their unhappiness are: amount of workload, a lack of a chance for professional development, boring job tasks and insufficient recognition.

"Meanwhile, managers mistakenly believe that employees' feelings about management and the future of the company were more important to job satisfaction than workers' personal goals. In fact, the opposite is true. The study also found that managers underestimate the importance of many factors contributing to workplace satisfaction, including career development opportunities, rewards, challenging tasks and a sense of self-confidence."
Fellow weblogger Steve Pilgrim (whose site -- Rodent Regatta -- has one of the best names I've come across), pointed me to this story, with the suggestion that there might be opportunity in this situation for some enterprising consultant. I hate to break it to Steve, but as one of the three canonical "necessary conditions" that are required for organizational success, "satisfaction and security of associates, now and in the future," this is a significant component of most TOC implementations. At the very least, bringing joy to the work, or at least the chance of enhancing the joy component, is something that I consciously strive to bring to every engagement in every organization with which I get involved.

And, fortunately, the toolset and mindset that I try to bring helps me considerably in this endeavor.

In my opinion, one of the key contributions of Goldratt's theory and it's supporting body of knowledge and applications is the integration of the "human and the humane" with the "logistical" aspects of management. It isn't about silly team-building games or outward bound exercises. It isn't about building a team to accomplish things, but rather building a team and enhancing worklife by accomplishing things. Between the thinking and communication tools (appositely acronymable as TACT) of the TOC Thinking Processes, the recognized necessity of the system's policies, processes, and practices to allow the people to do their best work, and (for knowledge workers like the techies of the survey) the enhanced possibility of flow experience through rational project management practices, there is a lot that can be done to enhance the quality of worklife that is found embedded in this holistic approach to management.

Much of the onus fall on the organization's management/leadership. As I wrote yesterday, it's up to management to understand the system and create the environment, and as I've written about before that, it's up to the workers to call them on it when they fail to "walk their squawk."

There was something that one of the original management consultants had to say on the subject.
- - Chapter 17 - -

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves."

-- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Translation by Stephen Mitchell
I'm not sure where in there it says that master managers should worry about how their workers feel them. All they have to do is the right things, and don't put their people into positions of untrustworthiness.

(By the way, that Mitchell version of the "book of the way" is a superb translation; check it out for classic commentary on leadership.)

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