Sunday, December 7, 2008

Culture Shift: Eliminating Employee Cynicism for Good

Read this interesting article on employee cynicism. Understanding the real cause of employee cynicism is the all-important first step toward permanent eradication argues Paul Levesque in this article. Some highlights from the article -
"... There are some "constant battles" that just inevitably come with the territory. Th e fight against germs, for example, affects every aspect of life in a hospital. Those who prefer outdoor recreation will have a mosquito problem to deal with anywhere there's standing water. Similarly, employee cynicism is an existing or potential problem in virtually every business setting. But solutions do exist to keep these constants at bay. As hospitals learn how germs spread, they can more effectively prevent infection. When we understand how mosquitoes breed, we're better equipped to bring their numbers under control.

Think of five successful corporations you personally admire. Do all five provide products and services that have made—and continue to make—our society and our world better in some way? The more unequivocally you can answer "yes," the more confidently I can predict that the companies you're thinking about do not have a problem with employee cynicism. More likely, theirs are cultures characterized by high levels of employee pride, right alongside the impressive profits.

The difference is that in these cultures, prosperity is perceived to be the means, rather than the end. It's the crucial and fundamental difference between "we exist to make a lot of money" and "we exist to do a lot of good in the world, and that requires a lot of money." It's eliminating cynicism for good, so to speak.

The great paradox is that businesses driven by self-interest cultivate employees who learn to similarly put their own self-interest first—to the ultimate detriment of the business. A management obsession with profit creates a workforce disinterested in profit, and obsessed instead with working conditions, wages, and other issues of interest to the workers themselves.

Management's day-to-day actions and priorities must make it difficult, if not impossible, for even the most cynical observers to argue it's all being driven purely by self-interest. The more readily employees can point to benefits experienced by customers or by the community at large, the more the cultural scales are likely to tip toward the "employee pride" side of the balance, and away from the "cynicism" side.... "
My experience suggests that those who work, will continue to work and those who don't, really won't, whatever we do or don't do. Article appears a bit idealistic to me. May be I am wrong.