Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Do Good People Managers Exist?

I would hope so. But I am seriously wondering whether the profit motive in business, combined with the culture of 'image', isn't losing sight of the fact that people are ... well ... people, and the best ways of people management are to do with recognising that employees are just like anyone else. Including the managers. People are people and feel a need for being recognised as having value.

Importantly, however, enabling people to feel recognised (and not just by wage-earning) can be important for the growth of the employer's business.

Back in the early 1970s, when I was an up-and-coming project leader / supervisor, I was wisely sent on some in-house training to learn how to become a better people manager. And the first principles I was introduced to were those laid out by man named Abraham Maslow. He was probably a genius, and I say that because the principles and issues he laid out were so much to do with commonsense and the fact that the motives for each and every person are, if not the same, very similar. And very often what differs between people is purely the step they are on with regard to a "hierarchy of needs". That is - as Maslow postulated - man starts with the basic need for housing and food, and then, once he has secured those, then moves on to other needs.

Maslow was all about recognising the need for a person to fulfill his potential, and the most powerful expression of his studies and teaching were in the realm of "self-actualisation". See this site.

Ernst Schumacher (see my earlier "Small is Beautiful" article) and Maslow were clearly of a similar train of thought.

Towards the end of the 1970s I went away and started my own business in which I tried to apply those wonderful principles, but did not see my business develop sufficiently well to concentrate more on that side of things. However, the profit motive was never at my forefront of thought. Quite late in my working life I returned to being employed, and, to my horror, found that people management seems not to have move forward at all. Hire and fire is all too often committed without proper consideration ... it is all about who is 'boss', and 'image', and 'profit'.

Meanwhile, I learnt from a TV programme the other day, that an application of Schumacher's beloved Commonwealth/Cooperative principle was operating in a wonderfully successful way in the States. While some US domestic airlines were cutting pilots' pay to around $20k, an assembly worker in a Cooperative was earning $65k!!

Strange world, isn't it? Can't we learn from situations like that?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Is Clegg Getting Clogged?

It is not my wish to start throwing barbed arrows at governing politicians, and certainly not for the reason that their political persuasion may be different from mine.

However, having been willing to give the new young men in power the chance to prove that they might be knights in shining armour, the cracks have started to show.

Having supported Labour's point of view that the economy should not be squeezed too quickly - mainly to protect jobs and services and to provide for the chance of recovery - the Liberals have suddenly moved towards the Tories' policy and are working hand-in-hand with the Tories.

In other words, 15m voters (vs 10m) voted for caution on spending cuts and 15m voters presumably now feel that they have been disenfranchised. They have been sold downriver.

"Oh, the situation is worse than we thought!" pipes Nick Clegg. Nonsense. The amount of borrowing is several billion down on what was thought to be the case. The situation is (marginally) better - not worse.

It goes to prove - the Liberals are not a party to be trusted. Yes, I agree that political parties in general are not that trustworthy, but there were and are people in the Labour Party that do have some scruples and principles that are praiseworthy. And that is why - so long as that remains the case - I will support them.