I am, at best, a cynical optimist. I’d love to see the best from everybody, but constantly suspect the worst. This is redoubled for the corporate world; I paid attention to the accounts of corporate robber barons and the way they treated their workers in West Virginia a century ago.
While such excesses still exist, they are comparatively rare. Now, control is exercised through more subtle methods and structural institutions (You *do* want that new TV, don’t you? Better work hard…)
Add to this the simple fact that healthcare was an accident for me. Or rather, another person’s accident at Basic training that opened up another position besides combat engineer when I suddenly had to reclass. I had no calling – whether through caring or monetary greed – into the profession I’ve found myself in.
This leads me to suspect (and fear) two things: That upper management is attempting to regain control over its workers, and that it is using emotional appeals to do so.
I am actually down with the whole “spirit of caring” thing, or the commitment to co-workers, or any of a dozen initiatives to motivate workers or change their behaviors. But I believe in these programs in the same way I believe in Pauline marriages.
St. Paul has gotten a bit of a bum rap as a misogynist. Truth is, the folks who usually talk about Paul should bear that label. Everyone quotes the part about wives being submissive to husbands, but forgets the next verse. In that verse, Paul exhorts men to be as Christ was towards His church – that is, sacrificing everything in its service. A true Pauline marriage is one where each partner is selfless in service of the other.
This is hard to do.
In one sense it’s even harder in the corporate world. There is a lot of precedent that keeps the status quo going. But that formality provides the lack of attachment that permits change. The kind of mutual commitment that corporations are trendily demanding from employees can only happen between equals. It requires – demands! – a relatively flat structure. Demanding commitment and sacrifice from employees in an unequal relationship is not teamwork – it is extortion.
It will be interesting to see if my organization is finally realizing that, or if I will have to try to restrain myself from foaming at the mouth.