Most people in the workaday world have no idea how much "power" "they" actually have in the workplace. Because of conditioning, and the encrusting of cultural mores and beliefs, it may be possible to forget that our original nature allows us to move wherever we need to in the world "as though it were our own playground."
Of course, pursuing this "power" for its own sake is a fool's game, and this "power" can only be effective when it is exercised consciously in harmony with Mind itself, in the midst of and with the cooperation of the myriad things. In the business world that means being mindful of all stakeholders's stakes, and mindfully approaching all conditions and situations with compassion, wisdom, and generosity whenever possible.
I've been rather busy at work, as posts from the past few days demonstrate, but because of a fortuitous confluence of my actions and thoughts and deeds, those around me, as well as I have had some benefits coming from all the hustle and bustle.
But part of those actions involved a redoubled effort and mindfulness in the workplace. And I can tell you that this pays dividends far beyond what you might possibly imagine.
I came across this interview in the NY Times the other day with management guru George Cloutier. His schtick is obvious to those who have had to deal with such insufferable folk.
Q. You tell business owners to forget about being likable. Is there something wrong with employees liking you?
A. You have to treat your people with respect. If they have a personal problem, you have to help them through it. You have to follow the law. But we also need to get things done as asked. The abandonment of that principle is a large factor in the failure of small businesses to achieve real profitability.
Q. Do business owners coddle their people too much?
A. The concept that if you love your employees they’ll perform is on the edge of insanity. It’s not that you want to hurt your employees, but you have a mission. You’re paid to produce results.
Q. Can your employees talk back to you or say, “Sorry, boss, but that’s a stupid idea?”
A. We actually did a survey around Christmas of their attitudes toward the company. Two-thirds of them thought the company was changing for the better. We let them write any comments they had. One guy that worked for me for 10 years wrote, “If I fell dead at my desk, George wouldn’t notice for two days.” Sure, we let them talk back. We like to listen, but you can only listen so much and then you have to make a choice.
Q. What’s your view of fear as a management tool?
A. Fear is the best motivator.
Q. Are you a tyrant?
A. I’m sure many people would view me as difficult. If I ask you to do something and you say, “Geez, I don’t have enough time to do that.” Well, maybe I don’t have enough time to sign your check this week.
I fully agree with the first point: Trying to curry likability is a disastrous way to run an organization. But the other points are absurd.
People will not do what they cannot do. Fear is well known to be the worst motivator, and the unconscious mind of the workplace will sabotage the tyrant every friggin' time. Fear is a motivator? Yeah, follow in the footsteps of Chainsaw Al, and see how far it gets you.
And if you don't take the time to really listen when you listen, instead of paying lip service to it, without judgment, or opinion forming or interruption, you're not really there.
Want super-duper free American management advice from a simple Buddhist layman?
Practice active listening in your next meeting.
Cloutier of course gets his money from people who want to pay him money to reassure themselves that their atavistic management methods are good for them, and no doubt will drive many people and companies to anguish over his advice.
Meanwhile, whatever the circumstances, you can create an island of quenched fires and still meet deadlines, get deliverables delivered, and help all advance further in life and career.