Will Sr. Managers Change? LO7513

Sherry L. Gould (s_gould@conknet.com)
Mon, 20 May 1996 21:58:26 -0400

Replying to LO7496 --

Terri Deems said:

>This thread has taken on an interesting tone for me, with
>Brock/Keith/Joan's last messages concerning empowerment et al.

I haven't taken the time to follow this thread till now. I can't resist
adding my input.

>I believe very strongly that changing the status quo of business is vital
>to changing society, and that the creation of a more just, more humane
>society cannot come about without fundamental changes in our assumptions
>concerning paid work (this is not to suggest, though, that this is the
>only system that must be changed, only that it is one of several critical

This aspect of changing paradigms in business is what first attracted me
to the LO stuff. I must admit that my first reaction was, "yeah, right"!
I am still very skeptical that environments free of abuse are conducive to
the profit motive. I want to believe that people will do the right thing
because it is the right thing. But this nagging voice deep inside says,
"why would the big boys want to give up all that power?" I have yet to
see the evidence that it is more profitable to do business this new way,
as opposed to same old...

>Brock asked, in essence, how do we make people listen who aren't

>I think we'll be seeing more large
>congolmerates going belly-up because of their short-sightedness et al.

How so? I mean how does not embracing the concepts we talk about equal
losing on the open market? What am I missing here?

Last week we dealt with an issue around overtime pay for hourly workers.
I've said over and over that if a worker goes over 40 hours in a pay week,
and an adjustment cannot be made prior to the end of the week, we MUST pay
overtime. Closely related, workers have offered to "volunteer" to stay
after hours to get their reports done, without pay. I have indicated,
whenever the topic has risen, that this was NOT OK!! I have instructed
the managers that workers are not permitted by the Dept. of Labor to make
those decisions for themselves, and we are not allowed any leverage in
this area. I have stated clearly that it is the managers responsibility to
insure that workers have the time built into their schedule to complete
their tasks.

When the subject comes up AGAIN, my hair stands on end and I just want to
get tough, write them up, etc. I represent an agency of over 800
employees. I am responsible to see that labor laws are followed to the T.
AND I supervise social workers who put direct service to kids before paper
work, and the greater good of the agency (we are not funded for overtime),
before their own good, (more money). I recognize that I failed to educate
the managers and workers as to how this behavior will ultimately hurt the
agency and therefore, kids.

But I did not totally fail. The cook heard me. In the latest attempt to
bend the "rules" for the greater good, the cook said plainly, you can't do
that. The scenario took on a life of it's own. It consumed the energies
of three members of the management team, the worker involved, (who wanted
to quit rather than deal with these headaches) for one entire day. It
predominated our management team meeting. Another several hours were
involved for four individuals at various times on other days. Words like
betrayal, manipulation, busybody, cult following, back stabbing, etc.,
flowed like wine. I simply said, she's right, you can't do that, and let
them process the issue.

When all was said and done they all came to see that no one meant any harm
to any one through any of this. The managers now understand clearly that
not following labor laws is not like driving 55 in a 50 mile zone, it is
like walking up to a police officer and holding a gun to his head. The
worker was able to get away from the situation and come back to thank me
for allowing a work environment where everyone is a learner and that her
worst fears of some how being blamed for the situation did not come to
pass. And I have no doubt that the issue of knowledge of and adherence to
labor laws is a done deal. No one got written up, no one is angry or
bitter, and the overtime got paid through a correction the following week.
I even allowed the four hours of pay for services not rendered, to stand.

How do you afford to give a situation this kind of time when you are
driven by the bottom line? Had I gotten tough in the beginning, the
behavior would have stopped much quicker, at the expense of dedicated,
gratified workers. Understand that I am genuine in trying to understand
how one accomplishes this in a for profit environment.

>On a slightly different note: I have some difficulty with the idea of

Me too...

>I think it is important to consider to what extent we are doing something
>FOR others (power retained) as opposed to doing something WITH others

>It isn't a matter of "giving" more power to someone who hasn't
>had it, but of eliminating power (or is it placing power in all hands,
>rather than just in a few?). Any thoughts on this?

For me the issue is that we need to stop raping others of their power. If
I don't take your power, I don't have it to give back. I have
responsibilities inherent in the position I hold. So does everyone else
on the team. If someone is irresponsible in their position I must step in
and assist in the creation of responsibility or assist in their removal
from the position, (with emphasis on option #1, the choice is truly
theirs). I believe that when I have to exercise much power, the system we
have created, somehow failed.


Sherry Gould s_gould@conknet.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>