Switching Back On the Light

While the world in general seems to get tougher and more and more focused on individual power, wealth, and success – rather than the old idea of helping each other to prosperity – I thought that it could be interesting to recap and search through the memories of a long working life, listing the things that actually worked well despite being out of sync with today’s rougher working conditions.

It seems to me like the new style is, in fact, just being the pendulum swinging back towards the conditions of the beginning industrialization after having briefly touched a more humanist approach. The darkening is again becoming the goal, after many years of enlightening. The light has been switched off.

Utopia

I imagine a world in which each potential employee/job seeker writes a list of tasks and conditions that would suit them – and then employers can bid in on it with an application. This is, of course, the exact opposite of the world as we know it, hence, an Utopia.

My list

General company terms:

  1. Flexible hours – if work can be done at any time, then why insist on fixed hours?
  2. Possible to work from home – gives flexibility in life and easier time management
  3. Stress free environment (not “we are always very busy” or “you thrive with tight deadlines and rapid changes in goals and conditions”)
  4. Overtime is fine, occasionally, but in general the work can be done during the hours agreed on in the contract
  5. Values: Respect for the individual + knowledge sharing
  6. No performance management – control and cooperation are rather based on dialogue and mutual assistance. Any measurements are for the purpose of understanding, not for punishing
  7. Physical surroundings suitable for the job, i.e., if car is needed there are parking spaces, if meetings are part of the job there are meeting rooms, etc.

Characteristics of the job itself:

  1. There is a defined area of responsibility
  2. Tasks cover end to end, allowing for an understanding of the value of each step and being proud of having completed it – also when several people collaborate to do this
  3. Plans are made carefully but with flexibility to allow for new understandings and learning to be utilized and new needs to be included. No panic reactions and sudden, unexplained changes of course
  4. Knowledge sharing and communication is part of the job
  5. Goals are reached through people, processes, and technique – in that order
  6. There is feedback on the work, showing that it is important to some
  7. No matter the job type and level the employee is part of a team that has a main focus on helping each other to make good decisions and, simply, to ensure a systemic approach to solving the tasks

Some features of the boss:

  1. A human being, not an archetype – the HR approach to standardizing leadership is taking away the human aspect and should be used with caution
  2. Team oriented – is helping their employees rather than commanding them, allowing them to create their own successes
  3. Coaching, but in a human way, like a colleague – not “coaching for performance”
  4. No treatment of employees as types – they are individuals and must be treated as humans
  5. No micro-management
  6. Good at filtering tasks so that employees will not be given such that are meaningless or counter-productive
  7. Ensuring the correct work environment, suitable for the tasks

The culture and colleagues:

  1. Polite atmosphere – “Good morning”, “Have a nice weekend”, holding the door, etc. makes it pleasant to be together
  2. Friendly but not intimidating – understanding that being colleagues is not automatically the same as being close friends
  3. No mocking
  4. Learning and personally developing
  5. Accountable and taking care of their duties, showing responsibility
  6. Helpful
  7. Adult people, serious about their work – but all of them individuals

Myself – what would I need to bring in:

  1. Dedication and enthusiasm (of course, in a ping-pong with the surroundings)
  2. Strategical, visionary thoughts about tasks, working place, business area
  3. Observant, analytical and improving, participating and developing
  4. Accountable and taking care of my duties, showing responsibility
  5. Flexible
  6. Helpful
  7. Another individual – broadening the scope of thinking and problem solving capabilities of the team and the company

Mix and match

Headhunters and recruiting agencies as well as internal HR departments are often a lot more focused on matching than they are on mixing – meaning, they do not appreciate the extra competencies and additional experience a job candidate may add. They are even tightening in on a few treats and mostly considering everything else as noise that should be kept out of the company.

However, the ability for an organization to adapt to changing conditions and develop a pleasant (and thereby efficient) work environment depends on mixing various experiences and competencies. It is not enough to find the “best” candidates for selected areas. An example:

I started in a new job, many years ago, where the focus was systems development based on Microsoft tools and platforms, so these skills had been asked for. However, a few days into the new job a customer asked for a Crystal Reports consultant – as I happened to know about this product too, we got the assignment and it became the beginning of a long and important collaboration with this customer around their reporting needs. Without my extra and not-asked-for skill, this would not have happened.

The switch

Can we change the job market to the reverse, as I fantasized about? Or are there good and sound reasons for not being much interested in the wishes of the employees?

Can we similarly reverse the development, the pendulum movement, to again focus on what actually works in terms of delivering what the customer’s need, which is a collaborative and both analytical and goal-oriented approach, making use of thoughts and skills of individuals, rather than on the internal power structures and bonus payments?

Is it, perhaps, just a matter of switching the light back on?

—oOo—

First published at LinkedIn Pulse:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/job-search-utopia-jørgen-winther
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Sadness is not an enemy – it’s a strength

When people around us are sad, we try to cheer them up. At best, everybody should be smiling and happy, we think, and they should always do such things that people do when they are happy – sing, dance, drink, play golf, go to the theater, whatever.

Human beings are equipped with many skills. Some of them are physical, others of a more psychological nature. If you by accident put your hand on a hot boiler plate, your combined physical and psychological skills will make you quickly drag your hand away, thereby limiting the damage. The conseived physical pain will then last for some time, forcing you to rest your hand and allow for it to heal and make you consider how to deal with hot boiler plates in the future. The physical pain will help you in several ways.

Mental pain serves the same purpose. If you have experienced a loss, you will feel sad. That should force you into a situation where you get a better overview of your feelings, your knowledge, and your preferred way forwards. An example is when someone close to you dies. You might have had many things in common, many shared activities in life, and the period of sorrow and sadness that follows your loss will help you understand that now this is over – and let you gradually find a new way forward, where the old way remains as a memory.

My mother, who died recently, was very clear about it: “It is good to be sad sometimes. It is necessary in order to be a complete person. Hiding the sadness or trying to remove it with medicine or the like will just mean that certain things never get thought through, never will be dealt with. The problems will remain, now only hidden”. She was very wise.

Recently the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo experienced a terrible episode of terrorist madness and the death of many employees in a deed that must have been a truly shocking experience for everyone. But on TV a spokesman from the paper told with a big smile that they were not sad, that the newspaper would continue as usual, etc., as if this was simply just one of those small problems that appear every day.

This is how we (men) show strength – by pretending that we are completely unaffected by whatever has hit us. By not admitting our loss, not showing our sadness. Maybe that man on TV made this statement to show the terrorists and their sponsors that they had not won. In the honor of the lost colleagues, who by that would become kind of soldiers who died for a good cause, rather than victims of the bad guys’ superior strength.

What probably would have shown more strength was – sadness. Open and admitted. The display of the strength to deal with the problem rather than ignoring it. I am not blaming the man for saying the wrong thing. On the contrary, I feel with him and I can imagine how terrible it must be for him and his remaining colleagues to have been part of such a drama.

But it might be that people in similar situations would do better with having feelings, and showing that they have them, and acting upon them in a proper way, thereby showing true superiority over the aggressors who only had simple violence on their repertoire. And it would probably help the victims better find their way forward again.

Seasons in the Sun

Video

This song came out when I was 10, it was me and my best friend Sam Statler’s favorite song. We listened to it over and over. Sam Died at 16 years old in a car wreck; I always think of him every time I hear it. I am 50 now, and if I have learned anything, its that life really does go in seasons, the seasons in the sun are for sure the best ones. Very Special Song
Rob H (comment on YouTube)

Cruelty for ‘good’ reasons

Quote

As amazing entertainment as The Lord of the Rings is, it will lead us astray if we take it literally. First, people will rarely do ‘evil’ knowingly. The Nazis and Pol Pot never saw themselves as evil, quite the contrary. The Romans never saw their gladiatorial games as evil. The real source of destruction is usually from people who believe they are fighting for good causes. Hitler believed that he was creating a more perfect and noble society with more perfect people – and he was a vegetarian because he hated cruelty to animals! It’s the individuals who justify their actions in this way who are the most worrying. This is certainly true on the international stage. To my mind, George Bush’s refusal to veto the use of such torture techniques as ‘water boarding’ (immobilizing an individual and pouring water over his or her face to simulate drowning) is an endorsement of cruelty. Such behaviour is concerning, too, because Bush has had all the privileges that come from having had a Western education and human rights. And he professes to be a Christian when it is obvious that, if Jesus were here today, he would never endorse torture. Yet in his own heart, Bush believes he’s doing good and defending his country. Remember the well-known saying: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ So we have to be careful because we often can’t see the archetypes working through us.

Paul Gilbert in The Compassionate Mind, 2009