Not so long ago, we would have considered the employee having a sort of schizophrenic mind by force. Persona A is the one at home, with partner/spouse and kids, helping at the church on Sundays and taking a son to football on Saturdays. Ah, also likes the movies. Person B is the employee, manager or not, going through the company door at 9 a.m., and transforming themselves into a tribe member with a dialect. Here, their relationships, their dealings with power and control, their concept of space and time, their morals, are dictated by the culture of the company and its operations. At 5 pm, back to Persona A. And repeat.
There was once a sense of two very different worlds. Indeed, management thinking has contributed to that split, creating rules of the game, hierarchies, power dynamics and emotional relationships, all in one, by definition sold as ‘different’. The HR/OD/L&D tribes were/are the custodians of the tribal rules, and proud of it. Inside the tent is one world, outside, well, whatever.
The 24/7 digital world kicks in and these two worlds are blurred. The always-on manager is playing parent in the evening whilst answering company emails on their iPhone. They are a Persona C. Good or bad? Not my point. It is what it is. Let’s make it good.
My curiosity, and nagging question, all in one, is which Persona influences the other more.
My hypothesis is that given the complexity of the corporate life, its richness and relationships, dynamics, rules of the game (written and unwritten, said and unsaid), priorities, business objectives and focus on performance, profit, and return on investment; given the strong and inescapable culture pressure, benign or not, and the overall set of habits copied from peer-to-peer interactions, the corporate world is shaping the non-corporate at a greater strength. Let me go as far as saying that the corporate world and its Persona Bs, unconsciously, shapes the morals of Persona A; that it is impossible today to pretend otherwise.
The old frame said, decent person goes to work and injects decency. The new frame says, corporate morals, ethos, ethics, rules and rituals, shape those after 5 (after?) mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts.
Are we progressively shaped by the 24/7 (work) world? Are we more and more the product of our corporate teamwork, performance management, leadership development, Town Hall language, employee engagement score and power relationships within the Business Unit?
So, are our families, kids, friends, political and community worlds shaped by the corporate habits and morals?
I don’t have an answer. What I do know is that, if the hypothesis is mildly sustainable, we’re better off shaping very human companies, whatever qualification we may want to provide.
I suspect the arrow goes in that direction. Work life shapes the other big time. And not in the superficial way we used to refer to: bad day in the office equals bad evening with the family. Sure, that has always been the case. But I am talking deeper and sustainable shaping of character that shapes the collective family/non work character.
Yes, do corporate habits shape the morals of our families?