Taking Back Work (and Repairing the Employee Psyche)


Well, finally I awake from a long winter’s nap.  Your last post on A new ethic of work was a challenge that took me a while to process.  But, having now reflected on it for a few weeks, I’m ready to throw down some thoughts.  And, since you are off sunning yourself (apology to our readers for the visual) on vacation, I’m going to hijack the blog for the next several days to lay out my thoughts.

One of the things that you frequently say when we talk about issues related to fixing work and the workplace is that someone needs to “save business.”  In your most frequent post, you suggested that “The management wing of the business world is not going to save business, they are too well compensated to take any real risk.”  I don’t disagree with your sentiments about management, but I want to take issue with this notion that business needs saving.

Business doesn’t need saving, people need saving.  Business will be fine because as long as the population continues to consume goods and services, there will be a demand to produce those goods and services.  Business is alive and well and is in no danger of extinction.  What’s been broken in the employee psyche.  That’s where the repair is most desperately needed.

The thing that is great about business is that it will always adapt to it’s environment in  one way or another.  Before manufacturing processes were created, businesses still produced goods.  Before computers were invented, businesses could still take and fulfill orders.  Business finds a way to do business, despite the changing landscape.

This is where the opportunity for change exists.  If employees and their demands/expectations change, business will adapt.  You suggested that it was time for a new “ethic” or “archetype” or “ideal” was for what makes a good employee today.  I think that’s the wrong approach.  At least in my mind, when we start talking about what makes a “good” employee, we are still framing our work in terms of how business would judge the employee today.  Instead, we need to be talking about how employees can make themselves so valuable that they take control of the employee/employer relationship and seize the power to change the game.  My vision is that if enough of the right employees were to change how they approached their work, they could dictate some rules changes to “business” and begin the next evolution in what work means and how it happens.

So, rather than image an ideal, I think I’d rather be more active and create a manifesto or battle plan for the person who wants to seize control of their own work experience and become a catalyst for change.  It could be that you intended the same thing and I’m just getting wrapped up in semantics, so I’m not going to get hung up on what to call it.  Instead, I’m going to propose that there are six components that I believe are the foundation to rebuilding the employee psyche and taking back control of the workplace.

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Personal accountability
  3. Exceptional skill and abilities
  4. Network
  5. Fierce authenticity
  6. Commitment
I intend to post on each of these six over the next six days to provide detail to each and expand on why I believe they are so critical.  By then, I’m sure you will have rejoined the working world and will be ready to re-engage by evaluating my suggestions and building on it from there.


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