Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves


You manage things; you lead people. —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

“What’s the matter, you don’t like it here?”

Some version of that comment is becoming more common now. We all know it’s not a good idea to tell people at work how much the organization sucks, but the pendulum may have swung very far back to the right. Fast Company recently published an article called, “Why faking enthusiasm is the latest job requirement,” that delves into a trend toward requiring a specific way of acting at work.

I can’t help wonder at why an organization would want to be so controlling on an emotional level, but I do know high unemployment is a factor. Unfortunately, those organizations are missing the point. It’s much easier and more effective to actually create a happy workplace than to force one. It used to be a given in radio.

I was in a conversation recently about a person who was asking for more money, and shared my experience that when people are asking for an unreasonable increase, or justifying their value, it’s either because they’re idiots or they’re not feeling like they’re valued. When people are getting a charge out of where they are, money becomes less important. Not unimportant, but less important.

Which leads me to Rear Admiral Hopper’s quote. It’s also my experience that people who are being “managed” are less happy than those being lead. Managers see people as another asset to be managed, and without the personal element of leadership it causes a sharp decline in enthusiasm.

Here’s the key: It’s less expensive and a whole lot more fun to lead than it is to manage.

Take time today, and every day, to let the people you’re responsible for know you value them, both personally and professionally.

One thought on “Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

  1. Specifically, in the broadcast radio industry, upper level management tends to come from a sales management background and it seems as though the leadership style in which they were trained came from a military model (Patton, Alec Baldwin’s Blake in “Glengarry Glen Ross”).Although not with all account execs, a browbeating approach must have been successful enough that it reinforced the legitimacy of that approach for those managers. Another factor might be the isolation and distance from the “troops” which upper management experiences in hierarchical organizations.
    Of course, those of us who came up through the on-air talent side of the business weren’t usually initially motivated by financial rewards. We found “meaning” (social acceptance, a sense of empowerment and/or accomplishment, etc) through our radio careers. At least in the case of Baby Boomers, there was also a certain rebellious anti-Establishment aspect involved. We didn’t respond well to managers approaches were demeaning to us. But, to survive and prosper, we adopted passive/aggressive techniques which helped us cope with the situation. From what you describe, Alan, it sounds like that’s still the case.

    Sadly, psychological and sociological research has consistently shown that people respond best when they feel genuinely appreciated and that their work has meaning. However, in the broadcast radio world where on-air talent are viewed as cost-centers rather than craftspeople and revenue-enhancers, the companies which currently in ownership are less interested in building long-term relationships than with short-term shareholder value.
    Soon, that may mean opportunity for the outliers.

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