Too many jobs are perfectly constructed to elicit inhumane behavior. Read my book to learn how it got this way.
The most fundamental lesson of our study:
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.
Even when asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
—Professor Stanley Milgram, PhD
Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View
Perennial Classics 2009 p. 6.
Professor Milgram was responsible for two psychological studies that became well-known by the general public while having almost no positive influence on government or corporate structures, the “administer a painful shock” compliance experiment and the “Small World” six degrees of separation demonstration.
We accept our responsibilities as a corporate citizen in community, national and world affairs; we serve our interests best when we serve the public interest. . . . We acknowledge our obligation as a business institution to help improve the quality of the society we are part of. We want to be in the forefront of those companies which are working to make the world a better place.
— Thomas J. Watson, Jr., 1969
President of IBM
The use of the cloak of social responsibility, and the nonsense spoken in its name by influential and prestigious businessmen, does clearly harm the foundations of a free society. . . . there is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.
— Milton Friedman, 1970
Founder of the “Chicago school of economics” 
See more in Chapter 8 of Tony Mayo’s novel, Crimes of Cunning: A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.
 In this article he quoted himself, “there is one and only one … without deception or fraud.” from Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – Deluxe Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. 133. (First published in 1962.)
Also, “[A] corporate executive is an employe [sic] of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible. . . . The whole justification for permitting the corporate executive to be selected by the stockholders is that the executive is an agent serving the interests of his principal.”
–Milton Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” The New York Times Magazine (Sept. 13, 1970), p. 32-33, 122-124.
The “prison experiments” by psychologist Philip Zimbardo show “that ethical problems in organizations originate not with “a few bad apples” but with the ‘barrel makers’—the leaders who, wittingly or not, create and maintain the systems in which participants are encouraged to do wrong.”
–Warren Bennis &
James O’Toole in
Harvard Business Review
Of all the management tools I recommend, one of the most effective is both very simple and very unlikely to be consistently employed—if it is used at all: the written progress report, completed on a consistent schedule.
The power of progress reports to promote results and reduce anxiety is demonstrated daily, on matters titanic and trivial. The U. S. Constitution requires that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Public companies are required by law to present results to shareholders, at fixed intervals and in specific formats. Schools send regular reports to parents, our GPS tells where we are, and UPS sends a text when a package arrives.
Still, managers and employees resist implementing this simple process.
Who cares about why? Just grow up and start doing a progress report. Declare your goals. Confront your results. Adjust to living in reality. Enjoy the benefits of clarity while the less disciplined fail and fail in a fog of vague expectations and inchoate regrets.
Before I explain how to format and prepare a good progress report, let’s deal with some common excuses questions.
Q: I don’t have a boss.
A: If you have (more…)
Author’s Preface is below
Also free: Read Chapter One by clicking here.
don’t let your babies
grow up to be corporate cowboys.
Or make ’em be
bankers and lawyers and such.
In the 1980s, I was a minor participant in major trends that would blow up the world economy in 2008, determine the dehumanizing workplace culture of today, and establish the Wall Street plutocracy that still guides governments and blames the poor for the plight of the middle class. Our descent began in the eighties, from endless e-mails to mind-numbing meetings, deregulated banks to defunded pensions, mortgage-backed securities to job insecurity, hedge fund royalty to vanishing loyalty, private equity to income inequality, even Starbucks ubiquity and business books’ vacuity.
I reluctantly admit that I eagerly supported every aspect of it. I ate the dog food and drank the Kool-Aid™. I believed in and tried to practice the free market economics and financial engineering I had been taught at the University of Chicago. I worked nights and weekends at an investment bank to help create a trading platform for one of the first derivatives. I willfully immersed myself in the toxic corporate culture of MCI. I was a true believer who gave thanks to capitalist economists Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, cowboy capitalists Bill McGowan and Michael Milken, and most of all to cowboy president Ronald Reagan for making the 1980s “Morning in America.”
I was wrong. Now, I am mourning for America. This novel, detailing a descent and incipient redemption similar to my own, is partial penance and restitution. I hope this story encourages my readers to make better choices and a better world than I did.
After experiencing MCI, I began my search for a way of working that encouraged people to produce results while feeling appreciated, connected, and healthy. That quest made me an executive coach and gave me a life dedicated to workplaces of humanity and prosperity.
Lurking amongst the thousands of words in this book are a few dozen that are considered profanity, including certain stalwart Anglo-Saxon four letter words beginning with f and s. Since a major goal of this story is to convey a sense of the time and environment in which events are set, I chose to use herein the exact, if impolite, language I heard and occasionally used. I regret any upset or disturbance this accuracy may cause the sensitive reader but expressing your objection is likely to incite the author to use these very same words in reference to the complainant.
* * *
Get your copy today.
Click here to see it on Amazon.com
Or, here for Barnes & Noble
Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
– Jack Welch
I believe that community matters. … Pixar is a community in the true sense of the word. We think that lasting relationships matter, and we share some basic beliefs:
- Talent is rare.
- Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the capability to recover when failures occur….we don’t second-guess or micromanage.
- It must be safe to tell the truth. …get honest feedback from everyone.
- We must constantly challenge all of our assumptions and search for the flaws that could destroy our culture. …Nobody pulls any punches to be polite.
Pixar’s Operating Principles
1. Everyone must have the freedom to communicate with anyone.
2. It must be safe for everyone to offer ideas.
3. We must stay close to innovations happening in the academic community.
… if we aren’t always at least a little scared, we’re not doing our job.
–How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity
by Ed Catmull, President
Harvard Business Review
Everyone loves to hate performance evaluations, and with good reason: Research has shown them to be ineffective, unreliable and unsatisfactory for seemingly everyone involved. They consume way too much time, leave most workers deflated and feel increasingly out of step with reality.
…more than half the executives questioned (58%) believe that their current performance management approach drives neither employee engagement nor high performance. [Click here to see the survey.]
…conversations about year-end ratings are generally less valuable than conversations conducted in the moment about actual performance.
Three items correlated best with high performance for a team:
- I have the chance to use my strengths every day
- My coworkers are committed to doing quality work
- The mission of our company inspires me
It’s not the particular number we assign to a person that’s the problem; rather, it’s the fact that there is a single number. … we want our organizations to know us, and we want to know ourselves at work, and that can’t be compressed into a single number.
—Reinventing Performance Management
Harvard Business Review
The new approach focuses, alternatively, on how to develop employees in the future given their current performance.
–What if you could replace performance evaluations
with four simple questions?
Deloitte has come up with them
(and two only need a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer).
By Jena McGregor in the Washington Post
More on this blog about improving employee evaluations
It’s always been the major belief of our company, take good care of your people, they’ll take good care of the customer and the customer will come back.
And we celebrate them. We train them. We teach them. We provide opportunity for them. You’ve got to make your employees happy.
If the employees are happy, they are going to make the customers happy.
–J. W. Marriott, Jr.
speaking of his father,
the founder of Marriott Hotels
How Bill Marriott’s Putting Employees First Transformed A Family Root Beer Stand Into $14B Hotel Giant by Steve Forbes in Forbes Magazine January 8, 2014