Give’em a Better Job to Do

Cooperation and Coordination?OK, Labor Day and I’m looking for a picture of that depicts the cooperation between workers and management . . . none found.  Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by the absence of such a picture.  The management and the work have been separated for far too long . . . one of the reasons we have too many chiefs and not enough indians.  You can either be counted as a manager that does something (command, control, edicts, policies, rules, etc.) to someone or be the someone and most people don’t like to be the someone.  Because the someone gets coaching, appraisals, targets, carrots, sticks and when things really get bad blamed or reduced.  If that isn’t enough, management gives the someone tools and technology that make the work harder.  By the way, I am not talking about your company . . . I’m talking about the other company.  Like Congress, it’s not MY representative it’s the other ones.

The problem with this in service is the culture and bad culture is expensive to maintain.  Think about if you aren’t having to inspect and monitor everything because of incentives, policies, compliance, etc., you have to inspect and monitor because of distrust.  Inspection and monitoring is expensive and adds to costs.  Firing is expensive because we have to hire another worker and train them and who knows the next someone may be worse than the someone you just had.

My modest proposal is to give the worker a better job to do.  When workers understand the purpose of the work is to serve customers and not targets and incentives, new measures emerge and these measures are relevant to the customer.  A far cry from the traditional measures given to them top-down with targets and incentives.  New measures and understanding of purpose give way to liberating method where the work becomes more interesting (as opposed to the prescribed method of telling what to do) and innovation follows.  This method leads to business improvement and  cost reductions (structure costs less to support) accompanied by improved culture.  Then maybe . . . just maybe we can find a picture of management and worker happily together at

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at or LinkedIn at

Share This: