Awards for Years of Service LO9975

John Constantine (
Sat, 14 Sep 1996 21:42:44 -0700

Replying to LO9931 --

Woody Davis offers that his company
>wants to shift the reward to something the company
>perceives as more important, size (sp)as exceptional

and later,

>"...sees the need to shift the emphasis but not what to
>shift the emphasis to.

This touches on two very, very important areas of concern:

1. The first has to do with why planning is going on without a consensus
on what the company intends to do and why it intends to do it. What likely
value will this have for the company? What is the projected return on its
investment in such a change, given its less than adequate planning? Are
the employees simply pieces of meat, useful only for a time, and only for
a limited purpose, and only that purpose? What message is that likely to
send, in fact guaranteed to send, to the employees of the company.

2. The "emotional response" as Woody puts it cannot possibly be
unexpected, in fact it would be a major miracle, or a sign of employees in
a coma, for there NOT to have been an emotional reaction to such an
"announcement", ill-defined as it was. While there are many possible
alternatives to, or additions to, the present practice, one that has
served the company and its employees faithfully for fifteen years, not one
is mentioned as an alternative or addition. Why is that? I sense there is
a great "black hole" of missing information which might help somehow to
explain its actions.

That same emotional response is in keeping with the value attributable to
the elder statesman, senior staffer, most knowledgeable worker/manager who
is in the company. That same person who is now no longer as valuable, no
longer as worthy, no longer as useful, whose utility value has diminished
to a perceived and practical low, a point where that person started x
years ago. Gone is the knowledge worker, gone the consensus builder, gone
the great mentor of the junior staff, he/she who has managed over time to
gain the most important knowledge, that which solves difficult problems.
He/she managed to pass on this knowledge over the years spent in the
company and on the job, managed to create a new process, a new product
which has saved time and money for the company. This is what is being
lost. For what?

This is the message to the employees. This is what they hear. This is
what they feel. And that is why they have the emotional response they do.
They feel that they are being replaced by "piecework bonuses" or
"man-hours saved prizes", or some such thing.

This is not a learning organization, it is a fumbling organization, one
which doesn't know "what to shift the emphasis to", and in so doing will
guarantee years of lowered production, lost capacity, sick-outs, general
unhappiness, and ultimately a return to the type of system they had BEFORE
they opted for the "unknown".

It is a return to a failed system, one which is touted as "necessary",
"progressive", "modern", "efficient", as it has been over the past one
hundred years, and which has FAILED. In this case, the worst part seems
to have been the inability of the management to know what it is doing and
why, and that leads to general mistrust of management. And, since the
general employees had no input into the "new" system, they will not accept
it. It will then produce not consensus but conflict, not cooperation but
competition of the worst kind, not increased efficiency but increasing
"fudging" of the numbers, cooking the books to meet "projections" and
"goals", set by the same management which took away one of the more human
acknowledgements of the people in the company who are not widgets, despite
managements exhortations to the contrary. It is a doomed system, and if
the company does not re-think its policy (whatever it is going to be)it
may be a doomed company as well. If Woody has any input and any influence,
now is the time to use it.


Regards, John Constantine Rainbird Management Consulting Santa Fe, NM

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>