Shortsighted management is the norm now

Wednesday 23 February 2011, 1.23pm HKT

American management philosophy perpetuates shortsighted attitudes.

One aspect of which relates to personnel:

Witness the by-now-worldwide attitude of treating employees as costs, rather than as allies to build a more successful business venture.

“Continually focusing on ‘now,’ ‘firefighting’, ‘crisis’ — it breeds the view that employees are ‘now’ things. They’re just things to hire or fire to fit the circumstances. Employees and employers just don’t have a common goal anymore. At the end of every month, pay is just one more office crisis.” (Tom B.)

The attitude also sees employees as can’t be relied upon to be loyal — loyalty must be bought with high pay or employment benefits. That view is only a step shy of regarding employees as mere commodities.

In the same way that commodities usually have short trading lifespans, employees at all levels have short job tenures — hugely disruptive for a small company and potentially customer-losing. Most people prefer stability rather than high pay, in fact. Of course, hiring better people in the long run pays for itself. Once you get them, it’s worth it to pay more to keep them.

The Big Thing in the HR [human resources] field is about minimising risky employee behaviour — but silence on risky employer/management behaviour.

“If you’re not having fun at work or making money, something’s wrong. If you’re having too much fun or concentrating too much on the work or the money, something’s also seriously wrong.” (Dad)


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Image via Peter Drucker’s Management Philosophy.

4 Responses to “Shortsighted management is the norm now”

  1. Guus said

    Cannot agree more to this post. And it’s a vicious spiral. If the company isn’t loyal to its employees, would would the employee be loyal the the company.
    It’s sad because long term there are benefits for both to be gained.


    • My sentiments exactly. But what I’m driving at is that the American attitude makes for high resentment in others. I still have ringing in my ears as if just an hour ago a remark from a supervisor when I was working on the overnight shift at a newspaper many, many years ago: “This is your main place of employment. If you don’t turn up, you don’t work here.” I made up my mind to not turn up and quit, since it WASN’T my main place of employment. As it turned out, I’m pretty good at balancing schedules, so I turned up. It didn’t matter in the long run, I don’t work for arseholes. Life is too short to squabble and suffer. Dad was a brilliant businessman, and I lean towards his advice.


  2. I too agree with your dad. If you are just working for the money then you are just wasting your time. In my business a week is a long time so there is always the possibility that my employer will have gone bust and shut up shop over a weekend (this has happened to me several times in the past decade or so). In that kind of working enviornment employers cannot hope for a loyal workforce- even though most of my employers are almost totally dependant upon my skills and experience for their business success. I have evolved an attitude of always being on the lookout for my next employment opportunity and if I am offered a more interesting position- even at less money- I am almost certain to take the new job. In an age of transient employment opportunities being the norm workers are forced to treat their labour as a commodity. The days of having a job for life are long gone my friend- and maybe that’s not such a bad thing in the end.


    • That’s it, isn’t it? Employers who are more dependent on employees often turn out to be the worst – you just have to wonder sometimes. You know, I keep saying to the (relatively) younger ones that, especially in the beginning, money actually isn’t that important (as long as it’s enough to pay rent, food, normal stuff, etc).

      You’re also on to something about treating labour as a commodity – I hadn’t thought about that. I’ll check around that idea and maybe come up with another post. Thanks!


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