Feelings are not as important as performance

I keep running across this recurring workplace theme, “This place is insane! If only I could get out of here!”

There is a similar educational theme. “This school is insane! I’ve got to get my kid(s) out of here!”

Lets face it. When companies or other institutions validate feelings instead of performance, the end result is insane behavior.

It is a classic example of getting what you reward. If you put your attention on the whiners instead of the performers, you get more whiners. More precisely, these institutions are rewarding people who are the problems instead of rewarding the problem solvers. That is insanity, plain and simple.

In a workplace, it will drive out the productive employees, leaving a growing number of useless employees who are skilled only at presenting grievances and managers who placate them. This touchie-feelie environment is a blueprint for disaster. Customer service deteriorates while employees validate their feelings about themselves.

I have seen actual examples of this while I was consulting. Employees caught selling illegal drugs in a hospital could not be fired because of the reprercussions. If a certain blogger’s humorous account is on the mark, PG&E may be taking a similar course.

In a school system, this insanity produces students who cannot effectively read or write, but have been taught that they are entitled to having their feelings validated. They have been led to believe through their school years that their feelings are more important than what they accomplish. Their first contacts with the real world are painful for them and for their prospective employers. These students have been trained in insane, and non-survival behavior! No wonder home schooling is on the rise.

On the other hand, rewarding only performance and neglecting any consideration of human needs and emotions leads to the abuses which created the “feelings police” in the first place. It is just a different kind of insanity. When a company focuses only on productivity and profitability, it can become an industrial machine in which employee safety and environmental damage are are not part of the business equation. McWane Industries is an oustanding example of this type of company. I am sure there are others.

Emotions are an indicator of things going well or not. A system which rewards performance must also monitor and respond to customer and employee emotions in order to track and handle problems before they become serious. Effective control of any company depends on feedback from employees and customers. Ignoring this feedback will result in eventual failure.

The saving grace in all of this is that morale depends on personal production. When employees or students are productive, their morale improves. Even under adverse working or study conditions, if people are allowed to produce and their production is appropriately rewarded, they will feel good about themselves.

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