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Monday, April 09, 2020

Workplace “black holes”


Some workplaces are like black holes, sucking in all the energy around and giving nothing back.

Have you ever walked into a place of work—an office, a laboratory, a school, a retail store—and felt your spirits start to flag the moment you passed the door? Felt a kind of weight settle on you: a sense of dullness, gloom, coldness? Experienced trying to deal with people who seem disinterested, uninvolved, too distracted, or too sluggish to do more than the absolute minimum? If so, you’ve just encountered a workplace “black hole.” A phenomenon that becoming more common than it ought to be.
In space, a black hole pulls in all energy, but never lets any back out. However much energy is nearby, it will be pulled into the vortex and then disappear as if it had never existed. A black hole is insatiable. It keeps pulling in more and more energy, absorbing it—then drawing in yet more. In black-hole workplaces, effort, however successful or exceptional, is absorbed as if it had never existed and “rewarded” by demands for still greater effort. Good results are automatically seen as the basis for requiring further and better ones. Achieve your target and it will be instantly increased. Exceed your target, and the bar will be raised still higher Like the real black holes in space, nothing can fill up a black-hole workplace—or even slow down the constant demands for more and more.

All that energy, effort, and hard work goes in, but nothing comes out again. Black holes absorb, they never emit. Black-hole workplaces take all you have to offer—and more—and give little or nothing back. They see payments and benefits as evils to be minimized, training or development as unnecessary costs, and staff numbers as a figure that should always be on the way down. Working there is a grim, draining experience: all work and no play or respite. That’s why staff appear so sluggish and disinterested. They’re too beaten down and exhausted to behave in any other way. In most cases, their every move is watched and their every activity measured against constantly rising targets for individual or team output.

Instead of being respected as a person, you are talked down to, looked down on, distrusted, and treated as a “human resource.”

At the root of the workplace black hole phenomenon is a deep disrespect for people. Employees are expected to focus totally on getting their work, with no time for themselves or “slacking off.” Targets are raised and raised until they become impossible—then raised again. Failure to achieve whatever is demanded is punished. Success is not appreciated, since it is seen as no more than doing what you are paid for. Instead of being respected as a person, you are talked down to, looked down on, distrusted, and treated as a “human resource.” Something to be used and exploited: a cost to be minimized or, if possible, removed altogether by mechanization or outsourcing.

Of course, such organizations disrespect their customers just as much as their employees. The customer is there to be fleeced, manipulated, misinformed, and given as little as possible for his or her money. Price gouging, cartels, and profiteering are all the result of this fundamental disrespect of others.

Fortunately, our universe has stars as well as black holes, and the same is true of the business and organizational world. An organization that is a star energizes everyone who comes into contact with it. Instead of absorbing energy, stars create it. They don’t just respect and honor everyone involved, they give back far more that they take. For the people who work there, it’s a marvelous place that allows them to be themselves, express their creativity, build a career that they can be proud of, and—above everything else—have fun. That fundamental trust and respect of employees and customers shines through like light from the brightest star. If you need help, it’s given with pleasure and care. Employees clearly show that it’s a pleasure to work there, and that communicates itself to customers too. Black holes de-energize their whole environment. Stars pour out energy that lights up a wide area around.

is your workplace a star or a black hole? Is it founded on respect and trust—or disrespect, suspicion, and exploitation? The only sensible way to deal with a black hole is to get as far away from it as possible, before it sucks you dry. Whatever lurks, unseen, at the center of its vortex will go on drawing in energy, work, profits, effort—endlessly. An economy based on multiple black holes will suck energy and money from everywhere else and return nothing. A country based on black-hole organizations will try to suck the rest of the world dry.

We’re constantly exhorted to reach for the stars. In the organizational world, that makes excellent sense. There are stars out there. If you can find one to work in, you’ll find that every working day brings you more energy and fun. Why accept anything less?

Just stay away from the black holes.



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5 Comments:

Word Power said...

http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/black_holes/encyc_mod3_q12.html

Your post got me thinking. So can we have organizations that are Stars converting into blackholes? Can we identify points , hints, nuances that may indicate this is happening?

How can then we find out ways to prevent that?

The above link says that "Its life ends when nuclear fuel has been used up". So I think that good star organizations fuel comes from its people.

Now add factors such as sucking up to Wall street pressures, quarterly incomes, and its easy to make a blackhole out of a star.

And long it was thought that black holes are irreversible. Before this isight: http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/black_holes/encyc_mod3_q12.html

So is it possible to make stars out of blackholes?

2:08 PM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Great comment, Word power.

I think that the answer may be yes, but I'll need to consider it in depth before being too definitive.

I'll try to get back to this in another post.

Keep reading, my friend.

4:07 PM  
Howie said...

You are right about that, direspect is the root of it all. Some employers are just too blind to see through people needs. This only shows that they consider people as workers only and don't respect and understand everyone's needs and feeling.

2:52 AM  
Charlie said...

That's true. If only decent jobs are not hard to find, those employers would be pleading for their workers to stay and change their rules. It's a sad reality that some of our bosses don't respect our needs and feelings.

7:12 PM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Thanks, Howie and Charlie. I'm glad that you enjoyed the post.

Keep reading, my friends.

11:39 AM  

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