Many employers welcome ideas for improvement. Well-meaning employees often approach management with a general air of ambition. If only their ideas worked, their employees would be happier, their schedules would be more consistent, and their hopes for a better future would be more fully realized.
Employers, of course, respond to employees’ requests for improvements, while also seeking to preserve or even promote their own efforts and ideas. Some managers, for example, see not just improvements in productivity and effort, but also better customer service and a greater willingness to work. Employees want to work for bosses who show the same level of commitment to them as to their own self-interests.
Many workers see this attempt to balance the demands of bosses and their own intentions as an obstacle to excellence. They see employees who disagree with or criticize managers as set against the chain of command. This desire for the best for oneself sometimes seems to be a function of the desire to please, while viewing collaboration as an equal reward.
Of course, employers also seek to preserve and even promote their own efforts and ideas. Some managers even go as far as to try to direct employees in their own directions. This can take different forms. Sometimes managers leverage the company’s resources, such as money or training, to create personal leadership opportunities. Sometimes managers enable employees to stand up for themselves, with the recognition of the company. And in some cases, managers take for granted employees’ skills and resources, even as they strive to empower them to maximize the value of the company and itself.
Managers talk a lot about having a fixed, indefinable core of workers who are always committed to their employers’ good will. Everyone I’ve met, in spite of rumors, seems to have this “best for the organization” mindset. Yet at the same time, I’ve met employees who feel drained, neglected, and disregarded. As companies compete to offer increasing amounts of freedom, management often loses sight of the underlying, fundamental, unassailable commitment that leaders and workers share.
A manager who doesn’t value his employees’ commitment may seem to be thinking outside the box or, if he does, may make a business model that isn’t necessarily in the long-term interests of his employees or the company itself. Inevitably, that manager loses control of his team, especially in the long term. Management may not see the need to harness the power and potential of the workforce. They may inadvertently end up compromising the spirit of the arrangement, or worse, they may insult the employee by giving them an alternative arrangement or choice that may result in some other other employer worse than the one they’re currently at.