November 29, 2017

W, X, Y, Z


Work, X, You, Z


WORK – extract


Adams (2007, p.xiv) says, ““…we are at our most effective, psychologically and physiologically, when stimulated by productive activity”. But he goes on to say that even though most people would continue to work even if they didn’t have to, “most people dislike the work that they do, and cannot wait to leave their workplace at the end of each day.”  It’s useful to be reminded that work can be boring, one can be underappreciated, one can certainly be underpaid. No work place is the perfect vehicle for self-esteem, growth and happiness (Rosner & Halcrow, 2010) and not everyone, even in an arts organisation, is going to be happy or productive or cheerful every day. As a manager, you have to create a good workplace but also to enable the balance between work and the rest of life.  In a book called Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense based on evidence-based knowledge about organisations ,  Pfeffer & Sutton (2006)  discuss a number of assumptions that are held by managers about work life. In a chapter called “Is Work Fundamentally Different from the Rest of Life and Should It Be?” the rules they say reflect the workplace include:


  • Your time is our time, even when you work all the time
  • Clothes make the person
  • Don’t think, you’ll weaken the team – just do what you’re told
  • Display prescribed feelings, not your real feelings – check your emotions at the door
  • Love – babe, even friendship – is a dirty word
  • Conflict and competition are desirable in the workplace
  • Rules of polite, civilized behaviour don’t apply at work
  • Meaning and fulfilment come elsewhere – work is just about the job.


It’s terrifying to think that a majority of organisations might be managed this way; that leaders believe this is what a workplace should be like. It may be just me (and may explain why I’ve never worked in the for-profit world) but I’ve never followed any of those ‘rules’. I’ve brought  a child into work when there was not alternative. Power dressing has never suited my style. I think therefore I am. I have tried to avoid abusive emotions at work but I’ve felt happy and sad and laughed and cried. I confess I even had a work affair. Politeness is a virtue which I’ve tried to express. And I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in organisations where the output was of value to the community.




Adams, J 2007, Managing People in Organizations: contemporary theory and practice, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke


Pfeffer, J & Sutton, RI 2006, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense, Harvard Business School Press, Boston MA


Rosner, B & Halcrow, A 2010 The Boss’s Survival Guide (2nd ed), McGraw Hill, New York