Print This Post Print This Post

In the old days of my parents, there was an unwritten consensus that your problems in life, your anxiety at home and your domestic challenges, perhaps your family issues, would affect your working life. Literally you ‘brought your problems to the office’.

Given simple statistics of how much time we are ‘at work’ today,  whether office 9 to 5 or 24/7 ‘on demand’,  it’s likely that the relation is precisely the other way around. ‘Work’ today shapes our whole life.

The work-life balance is a 20th Century myth. The term itself is revealing. It clearly implies that work is not life. So you have no life for most of the day. In that equation today, maybe you have a life when sleeping.

If we accept that work shapes us as a person, not just as a professional, as a manager, as an employee-with-a-role-description, then, suddenly, ‘work’ is charged with an extraordinary responsibility that has nothing to do with the job description. ‘Work’ shapes all those things such as family life, kids development, engagement in the church, or in the association, or the club.

Then, ‘management’ acquires as well an uncomfortable extra responsibility that goes well beyond the tasks, the goals, the bottom line and the shareholders. Milton Friedman’s doctrine that the sole purpose of the company is to make profit and not, for example, social responsibility, is unsustainable today, even in a strict modern capitalism frame.

The problem is how one interprets ‘social responsibility’.  Corporate Social Responsibly (CSR) is interpreted by companies in very different ways with more or less emphasis on the environment, compliance, regulatory issues or ethics. Triple bottom line accounting (social, environment and financial) is a relatively new attempt to redefine the space of the firm

What do all these have to do with where we started?

OK, what if ‘work’ itself has a moral duty to enhance the individual? Because it has no choice. It has taken over ‘life’. What if ‘work’ had to do with the dignity of the human being? (as the body of principles called ‘Catholic Social Teaching’ proposes, and is largely embraced by many well beyond the borders of the Church; in fact often more outside those borders than inside). What if we had the guts to say that employee engagement, for example, is not simply ‘feeding the cows so they are happy and produce better milk’ ( as a memorable title of an Employee Engagement book puts it)? What if we deliberately, not just words and cheap branding, put ‘human’ as an adjective of the company? What if ‘work-life balance’ is today better life through better work?

Would those people thinking like that (managers, CEOs, HR heads) be called lunatics, dreamers or, I am sure if you are in some parts of the world ‘socialists’ (which is a very serious indictment, very serious, a very serious one, let’s called tremendous)

Until we solve all those ‘ifs’, I think that it would not hurt to reflect a bit. I, for one, am not putting up anymore with the equation ‘high employee engagement delivers better productivity’ because I find the logic insulting. I have always defended the view that if you want high employee engagement, you’d better run a successful company, you’ll see how many people you’ll engage. Engagement for me is an output, not an input. A conversation for another day.

Rambling, that is, I know.

But, really?

Keep up with the Daily Thoughts

Twitter Email

Would you like to comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To search my website, please use the form below.

  Daily Thoughts

September 27th, 2023

Redefining Talent Wealth

The war on talent McKinsey consultants started it with a book of the same title. By focusing on what it […]

September 8th, 2023

What I Learnt From The Monks: A Little Anthropology Of Leadership And Space On One Page

My friends, monks of a Benedictine monastery in the Highlands, Scotland, spend most of the time in silence. I mean, […]

August 23rd, 2023

Can We Rescue DEI From Its Trap (The Label)?

Most of the problems and challenges in organizations, together with most of the solutions, are behavioural in nature. It’s about […]

August 10th, 2023

Restructuring to force collaboration, is likely to create more anxiety than collaboration. Structural solutions for behavioural problems hardly work.

Sometimes restructuring is done with the intention of solving a collaboration problem. ´A people´ don’t talk to ´B people´; if […]

July 18th, 2023

The ‘Impossible To Disagree With’ School Of Management

‘Good leaders have empathy, respect employees and set the example. If you want to change things, you need to have […]

June 29th, 2023

Large scale change is not small scale change repeated many times. Small wins repeated are lots of small wins.

Large scale change, as a series of cascading small scale interventions (often under the philosophy of ‘small wins’) has dominated […]

June 6th, 2023

Culture change is not long and difficult. But we make it so…

I suppose the question is how long is long and how difficult is difficult? In general, business and organizational consulting have […]

May 19th, 2023

Value is an overused term in business and, as such, it’s becoming meaningless

Value, as usually used, means transactional monetary value. Usually it doesn’t mean intrinsic value, or value per se. For example, […]

May 4th, 2023

The importance of ‘critical thinking.’ Your own critical thinking is more effective at making your workplace better than any generic employee survey.

Build your own Employee Engagement argument for free. You can’t go wrong. Here are three baskets full of concepts: Basket […]

April 21st, 2023

´Busy-Ness’ Is A Trap

I went to a big conference where I was introduced by the chairman like this: “Welcome everybody. Lovely to have […]

April 14th, 2023

Training and culture change. The love affair that ends in tears.

It seems to be very hard for people to get away from the idea that if we just put individuals […]

April 11th, 2023

Teamocracies and Networkracies have different citizens: in-Habitants in team-work, riders in net-work

The old view of the organization is something close to the old concept of a medieval city, where citizenship was […]

April 5th, 2023

3 Ways To Get Approval From Your CEO Or Your Leadership Team

Way number 1: My team has developed these three options, A, B and C. Which one do you want us […]

March 29th, 2023

A Cheat Sheet To Create A Social Movement Tip = to shape organizational culture since both are the same.

Mobilizing people. This is another of the Holy Grails (how many have I said we have?) in management. Whether you […]

March 16th, 2023

Critical Thinking Self-Test: A 10 Point Health Check For Your Organization And Yourself. If any of these are a good picture of your organization, you need to put ‘critical thinking’ in the water supply.

Test yourself, and your organization. Do any of these apply? Doing lots, too fast without thinking. High adrenaline, not sure […]

March 9th, 2023

A culture of safety or a culture of training in safety?

Cultures are created by behaviours becoming the norm. Safety is at the core of many industries. Significant budgets are allocated […]

March 2nd, 2023

Empowerment is an output. If you can visualize it, you can craft it.

The real question is, what do you want to see happening so that you can say ‘people are empowered’? Employee […]

February 24th, 2023

A simple question will jumpstart your organization into change. It will also save you from months of pain spent reorganizing your people and teams.

The following line will short-cut months of (building) ‘alignment’, integration, reorganization, team building, coalition building, and any situation in which Peter, […]

February 20th, 2023

Lead Via Peer-To-Peer Networks – If you don’t lead via peer-to-peer networks, you’re only driving your car in first gear.

Peer-to-peer work, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is the […]

February 7th, 2023

Write a script, not a strategic plan

If you care about the journey and the place, you need a story. If you have a good, compelling one, […]

January 26th, 2023

3 self-sabotaging mechanisms in organizations

Organizations, like organisms, have embedded mechanisms of survival, of growth and also of self-sabotage. These are 3 self-sabotage systems to […]

January 10th, 2023

Who should be involved in culture change? All inclusive versus going where the energy is.

Many times, in my consulting work, I find myself facing a dilemma: Do I involve many people on the client’s […]

December 23rd, 2022

Tell what won’t change – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

In any change programme that any organization wants to start, they will start by thinking of the things that they […]

December 16th, 2022

Scale It – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

When creating effective change in any organization, there are 40 rules that, in my experience, are the key between success […]

December 5th, 2022

Assets & Strengths Base – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

For more than 30 years I have been involved in ‘change’ in organizations. Again and again, some fundamental principles, and often […]

November 25th, 2022

Campaign It… is 1 of my 40 rules of change

When you filter out the noise, when you try to extract the core, the fundamentals, those ‘universal rules’ of change […]

October 31st, 2022

Hybrid or not hybrid? That’s not the question…

Culture is the new workplace If you want to have a conversation about the future of work, the nature of […]

October 24th, 2022

‘Powered by Viral Change™’: A Social Transformation Platform for the organization of the 21st Century

When we started to work on Viral Change™, as a way to create large scale behavioural and cultural change, and […]

October 14th, 2022

Corporate tribes, intellectual ghettos and open window policies

We talk a lot about silos in organizations usually in the context of Business Units or divisions. But these are not […]

October 7th, 2022

Peer Networks are the strongest force of action inside the organization

Peer-to-peer works, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is […]