Thursday, July 10, 2008

Status quo protection v free expression

This was the third entry on my other blog, and agian osme editing needed and desired for my part.

Status quo protection v free expression
12th May 2008

At what level of management, leadership, supervision do you think an individual starts worrying about protecting the status quo, in other words, protecting his/her job, wage, reputation, lifestyle, and overly worrying what others think about them rather than defending strongly held personal opinions? And to what level will they sink in order to protect it?

I have in the past, as have most people, encountered many individuals who clearly follow the party line or their company’s policies or preferred opinions regarding certain socio-political, gender, cultural workplace issues that they obviously don’t agree with, and would rather prefer not to support.

And that is quite normal in the workplace even for managers on the lowest rung of the ladder. And usually they don’t have any leverage or tools to support their position if someone should express a view contrary to the workplace views or policies in force.

Yet they continue in that role year after year, simply to protect the status quo, their position, their livelihood, and occasionally being hated for it by workers under their supervision.

Middle managers of course, in this battle between the status quo and freedom of expression and thought, do have tools at their disposal. For example, they can withhold benefits, time off, holidays, pay rises. And worst of all influence the co-workers of the free speaker/free thinker by even resorting to bullying, or “abuse of authority” as it is called in polite legal terms.

Then at the top of the pile we have those who have the most to lose should they express something they really feel or think rather than defending the status quo and their own jobs and reputations when spouting the party/workplace line in conflict with a normal worker who is ironically expressing support of something the top dog him/herself secretly agrees with.

And that can’t be healthy for the top dog, be s/he a Director General, CEO, MD, Colonel, Mayor, Commissioner etc.

In fact, it must be mentally tiring, defending the socio-political, gender, cultural views that your workplace encourages but which you don’t agree with when in conflict with someone saying something you do secretly agree with. Or defending them to such an extent that you must clearly realise that you are infringing on the rights of the worker expressing the contrary.

And so the level of status quo protection here includes all forms of management bullying, peer group pressure, making the individual look stupid or basically trying to shut them up with threats that are not the reserve of top managers but rather 12-year-old children in the school playground.

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