Tom Peters’ book is a valuable asset to any representative of corporate management as well as an employee at any level in contemporary organization. Peters suggests that in the modern organization, employees who are in the “lower” ranks or at least those who are thought and treated as such by management see only the tasks they are given. (Peters, 2005) Many times when a project is started within a company only the higher-ups are privy to what the actual final goal is. The employees below management are only shown a small piece of the pie so although they may adhere to the task at hand they do not do it with the fervor they would if they knew what their small piece of the pie was contributing to.
“Management may think it isn’t important to tell their employees what the final goal is or that it isn’t any of their concern.” (Peters, 2005) They may feel that the employee should come in and do the job they were hired to do regardless, which is valid, but imagine the difference in how the employee would feel about the work they were doing if they knew what they were working for. It is hard for an employee to work for something they do not believe in so consider how difficult it is for an employee to work without anything to believe in.
We are told a story about 3 bricklayers who were asked what they were doing. The first bricklayer responded, “I am laying bricks.” The second said, “I am making $17.50 an hour.” The third said “I’m building the most beautiful cathedral in town. Years from now people will be able to come here and worship” (Peters, 2005). Of course the third understood his sense of purpose and his attitude and pride in his work was such that he saw beyond his role to the bigger picture.
Peters suggests that this is the type of employee every company wants to have working for them but what if we assume that the first two brick layers were unaware of what they were building, it would be hard to expect them to see further then their own task. Unfortunately, this is true in many businesses today, the employee doesn’t know about the beautiful cathedral they are helping build they only know how many bricks to lay, where to lay them and how much they will be paid for their work.
Peters says “As a leader you are responsible for everything that occurs on your watch. If you notice morale drooping, you must take decisive action before the situation becomes chronic and jeopardizes your entire organization” (Peters, 2005). There are people who tend to mask their feelings and in those cases you will need keen communication skills to reach them. Most companies are worried about the bottom line, the costs involved in their work, the profit they hope to gain, and the type of reputation they have in their field. Rarely is there concern for the reputation they have within their own office.
Managers and supervisors should be given some type of training on effective communication with their employees; it can only improve the productivity. In Tom Peters book, he talks of forcing yourself to dig deeper but realize that in doing that you are “rewarded with growth, pride and independence” (Peters, 2005). It is important that no matter how much you do or don’t know about how your piece fits into the puzzle at work you have to do the best job you can do. You don’t do this because you want a raise or a promotion (although those would be nice); you do it because giving less then your best is a let down to yourself.
At the end of the day nobody else may notice what you have accomplished but you will and that will only help you get further in every aspect of your life. “What determines eminence is less a call to greatness than the call of character, that inability to be other than what you are in acorn, following it faithfully or being desperately driven by its dream” (Peters, 2005). Compensation does not guarantee performance. You must possess something inside yourself that eschews mediocrity while embracing greatness. You must welcome adversity as a test of your resolve.
Communication between employers and employees is in fact a two way street and if as an employee you see problems with the communication in your office then it is your responsibility to speak up. Hopefully in doing so your manager or co-workers will realize the problem as well and everyone can work towards a resolution. You must first identify and voice the problem before you can fix it. In a perfect world we would all have perfect managers and owners and co-workers and spouses but in reality we know this isn’t possible. Through our attitudes and our own personal character though we can make the best of any situation and in working through this adversity will come out stronger, wiser, and more successful.
Peters, T. Leadership (Tom Peters Essentials). DK ADULT, 2005.
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