Be Engaged or Else

August 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

I received an email recently from the local SHRM chapter (The Society for Human Resource Management) promoting six different webinars for HR professionals.  I say the webinars were different while I hold my tongue firmly in my cheek because 5 of them were about HR law.   HR professionals continue to embrace the “you better get engaged or else” Frederick Taylor model of engagement management.

Pre-employment exams, process audits, wage and hour pitfalls, EEOC regulations, and recent changes in workplace law highlight the 5 out of the 6.  Even the last one has to do with playing games in order to boost engagement.  Is embracing lawyers and games the new strategies for employee engagement?  How is that working for us? According to Blessing and White only 31% of employees are engaged.  In my opinion, it’s pathetic.

Isn’t it time to move away from Frederick Taylor and ask the lawyers to take a long vacation?  Isn’t it time to get serious about building a culture of trust by embracing the new leadership strategies of self-organizing systems, chaos theory, and quantum physics?

We are stuck in the Frederick Taylor management model which holds dear the following assumptions about people:

  • They are lazy and need to be nudged to do work
  • They can’t really be trusted
  • Management has all the answers and must control
    employee behaviors with extrinsic motivation techniques such as performance
    management and pay for performance
  • Individuals need to be improved in order to
    improve organizational performance
  • Hiring talent will boost the organization’s
    performance

The Taylor model worked well for about 50 years because employees were uneducated and global competition was non-existent.  Now that we are competing on a global scale and those competitors are embracing systems thinking we are in trouble.  It is time we started to evolve our
leadership thinking and our leadership models. Businesses should not exist tomake lawyers rich.

In Japan they have 1 attorney for every 5,500 population.  In the U.S. we have one in every 285 population.  In California it is one in
every 174.  Do we really need more attorneysfor HR?

The embrace of Frederick Taylor has led us down the rat hole of skyrocketing litigation costs, poor employee engagement, falling productivity, poor quality, and loss of global competitiveness.  Isn’t it time we started to seriously embrace trust as a strategy instead of control?
Maybe we need litigation to force HR professionals to embrace a strategic initiative to improve trust.

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