Monday, June 23, 2008

Here's an interesting poll from the Zogby people about how we view our bosses and the workplace. The theme of the report centers around the notion of democracy in the workplace. I try very hard to run a benevolent monarchy with plenty of input from the serfs at my place. I do little things like ask people to do things and then thanks them. I also solicit ideas and then use them and give people credit.

I'd like to say that being a decent guy – at least that's what I've been told – is easy or fun, but it's not. It requires much more effort to be inclusive and considerate than it does to be a dictator. That's why, in my opinion, we have so many petty tyrants.

Attempting to be good is a lot more work than being a self-centered jerk – that's easy!

I will add that being too decent is temptation for some people to run roughshod over you and I've had that happen. I think for some people encountering a supervisor who is trying to do the right thing is a signal that person is a target for manipulation.

Still, I continue to try to live up to the management techniques my father taught me by example. Granted, staff members may be greasing me by saying nice things about me. Perhaps they were among the folks who answered the poll!

UTICA, New York - One out of every four working Americans (25%) describes their workplace as a dictatorship, while just 34% of bosses in the American workplace react well to valid criticism, according to a new Workplace Democracy Association/Zogby Interactive survey.

The survey also found that less than half of working Americans - 46% - said their workplace promotes creative or inventive ideas, while barely half - 51% - said their co-workers often feel motivated or are mostly motivated at work.

Asher Adelman, Founder and President of the Workplace Democracy Association, said that "As we prepare to commemorate our nation's independence and celebrate the freedoms that we often take for granted, it is unfortunate and ironic that so many Americans work at organizations that are managed like mini-dictatorships."

Just 52% of respondents in the nationwide survey said their boss treats subordinates well, the survey revealed.

"Traditionally-managed companies, by inadvertently draining the motivation levels of their employees, are stifling productivity, innovation, and creativity. Companies cannot expect to remain competitive when such large numbers of employees do not feel like they are treated like responsible adults nor when they feel like their input has little or no impact on the company's decision-making process," said Adelman.

Adopting democratic processes can have a significant impact on employee morale and thus improve their levels of productivity and creativity: 80% of workers said they work better when they are given the freedom to decide how to best do their job. Another problem in the workplace identified in the survey: 31% of respondents said they believe that their human resources departments or upper management almost always or sometimes hire the wrong people.

But, the survey indicated, a solution to poor hires may exist within the workplace. Almost one person in five (18%) workers said they would feel more motivated at work if employees were selected and hired by groups of coworkers instead of by the bosses.

"Companies that want to boost employee engagement levels must adopt democratic and innovative practices in the way the entire company is managed," said Adelman. "Executives should be sharing information with all employees about the company's ongoing performance and goals, and employees should be empowered with greater discretion and decision-making abilities. In addition, it goes without saying that employees should be rewarded and compensated when the company is successful in achieving its goals." The nationwide interactive survey was conducted May 20-22, 2008, and included 2,475 respondents. The measure of error is +/- 2.0 percentage points. This is the largest national representative study of this phenomenon in the U.S. to date.

Would you want to elect your boss?

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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