Monday, July 21, 2008

OFG X: Commitment to each other

Over the last couple of years, I have developed what was, at first, a surprising interest in business management. Or, to be more precise, an interest in providing both the highest-quality work product for my employer *and* the best work environment for those who I supervise at work.

It is not at all surprising to learn that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, that old-school thought process: 'if it is good for the company, it must be bad for me...they are getting rich from the sweat of my brow' is rapidly falling by the wayside. Why? It's wrong, that simple.

There is no question that there was a time in the past in this country when that concept was exactly correct, and the good news is, for the most part, it is now passé.

The problem is that we still have institutions which were created to battle using that mentality of 'I can only win if you lose.' And, it is the nature of institutions to resist their end. But it is the end for institutions which refuse to bend to the new reality: it is partnership between the workforce and the company which today is driving the most successful companies.

For me, I love to see the dovetailing of my experience in corporate America with the personal growth I have undergone for the last decade or so. Don't misunderstand: there are still many areas within which most companies need to work to complete a true partnership with their employees, just as there are lots of ways I will continue to grow. But the changes I have seen in the last 20 years (yes, I am an IT guy who has had the same employer for 20 years--did I ever mention being a bucker of trends?) have been substantive and meaningful.

There is a concept in business known as 'best practices'--the idea that we all should copy what works for someone else, or for a group of "someone elses". It is corporate America's version of network TV programming: that show that the other network had a hit with last season? Copy it! In fact, copy it three times with slightly different locales and casts and such, and we'll stick with the one that makes it.

While I am only a partial supporter of the concept--to me, it is, in some ways, the same cop-out as "zero tolerance" is for school administrators because it relieves you of the need to think for yourself and be responsible for your conclusions and actions--I do see a gradual movement which is positive and a result of this process.

One important barrier to establishing true partnership is the entry cost. It costs a great deal of money to offer your employees better benefits, better training opportunities, better working conditions...and it pays off. But, for the skeptical, the payoff is pie-in-the-sky, and the costs are RIGHT NOW. This is the single most-important factor in slowing the adjustment of corporations to what has been proven to work by hundreds of companies of all sizes across the country.

As the change in philosophy continues to filter through the boardrooms of America, there is an even more-exciting tale to be told of personal transformations all around the globe.

I intended to tell this entire story in one post, but I now realize it will take at least two. So, check back next time for the continuation on this topic, next time focusing on what we as individuals are doing to raise humanity out of its morass.


thailandchani said...

I will check back for the next post on this topic. This, I've got to hear!

Sorry.. but I'm skeptical.

Rick Hamrick said...

There's nothing wrong with a little skepticism, Chani! I tend to be both skeptic and optimist: I expect things to work out for the best, and then I am surprised when they do! (grin)

Angela said...

I'm currently working two part-time jobs for considerably less money than I could make if I ventured back into corporate America. Why? Because I have two fantastic employers who really care about their employees and appreciate the work they do. It has been my experience that that is not the easiest thing to find, but I'm glad to hear that you see things changing. Great post.