Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where the Values Hide

Listen carefully enough and you can hear the hidden values whispering in the workplace.

Some people value freedom. Others would gladly sacrifice that for security. Some want predictability, but others prefer excitement. Some stress equality of opportunity and are denounced by those who demand equality of result. Still others hunger for fairness, although they often get hazy when asked for a definition of just what "fair" is.

Many search for something new, anything really, just to break the monotony. If they've been around long enough, money may be less important than a challenge or the chance to mentor a new person. A surprising number want to do their jobs and then go home at five to purge their minds of anything related to the job. Lengthy speeches about meaningful work do not reach them.

Some scorn ambition. Others worship it. Many are so consumed by technique that they forget substance. Legions that once marched for the mission may have shifted their loyalties to turf. Many specialists and technicians share the same god as many executives: themselves.

Given this diversity of opinion, emphasis, and values, it is amazing that we get anything done.

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