Monday, December 27, 2004

The Problem with Corporate Management

Many of us working in organizations often wonder why the management seems to always make lives difficult for their staff.

We constantly see organizational and departmental restructuring which affects the way we work. We see corporate re-engineering exercise where people get axed. We see and hear things that threaten our livelihood and we feel our supervisors are always picking on us. We suspect and know there are spies for management who are our peers, always lurking around our backs, ready to stab on us at every opportunity.

One of the many ways our management keeps an eye on us is through spies tapping on the grapevines. Grapevines are informal gatherings by colleagues to discuss anything in general, and in general, workers talk about their bosses, their unhappiness at work and the likes. A manager can either directly plant a spy in grapevines or indirectly insinuate to get his or her staff, especially secretaries, to convey messages. For example, the manager can unofficially leak news about possible retrenchment to secretaries who unknowingly hint about it at these informal gatherings, thus motivating staff to work harder, or make them demoralized and then play savior to win support from staff.

Such are the politics working in a corporate world and these by no means are totally the fault of management. The truth is, managers are trained by education to do such things. Attend any business management study and you will find all these written in the textbooks.

Another technique frequently used by management is the reinforcement theory, which takes the view that workers are by nature lazy and must be scrutinized or manipulated constantly in order to yield results expected by management. In short, it means behavior modification. The management may introduce a consequence or change the environment in order to increase or maintain frequency of staff participation. These may include punishment, controlled rewards, psychological segregation, or other methods. For examples, the threat or rumors of possible retrenchments, punishment of a staff to set an example, and the cutting of bonuses. By using such shock or depravity tactics, staff will then modify their behaviors and change attitudes toward work.

Some of us who are reading this article may be supervisors, managers, or bosses in our own companies. As people in a position to determine the behaviors of others, we must constantly be reminded that not all techniques we learnt from books or education are in real life practical. We ought to treat staff as human beings and hence we must use our own brains to decide what is best and not rely on learnt knowledge. Instead of manipulating, we may wish to consider how to increase staff's job satisfaction so that they may willingly sacrifice their time and efforts to go an extra mile.

To workers who are suffering at the hands of the management, know that all these exploitations are not necessary intentional on the part of the supervisors or managers. All these techniques used by them are not new and have been taught in academic schools. It is a flaw of the education system that makes them what they are. If we can make them see their wrongs and 'educate' them through staff consensus and feedback, or even through unions, let us try to make it work. However, if such methods don't work, then use the techniques they use on us to reverse the role, and hopefully in this way get attention from them by getting our message across.

No comments: