With Joy At Work, Dennis Bakke got me with the first two sentences of his Preface:
My passion is to make work exciting, rewarding, stimulating, and enjoyable.
Frequent readers know his words would have sounded only slightly different if coming from me in Managing with Aloha. Something like,
My passion is reinventing the workplace as we know it, by making work worthwhile, fulfilling, and gratifying.
Most books on organizational life and work focus on top executives and the strategies they use to guide their organizations to success, which is usually defined by financial results. This book is aimed primarily at the working life of the other 90 to 95 percent of people in large organizations ” for them, the crucial measure of success is the quality of their work lives.
With Managing with Aloha, I was aiming for a different, and more specific audience; managers. I see that managers have a responsibility for leadership, and MWA was written in my mission to help managers understand that they can, and should do more to effect the change we need in today’s workplaces.
That said, I do think of myself as one of the biggest advocates managers can have. I’m always cheering for them and encouraging them to strive higher. While I can see the shortcomings they may demonstrate, I prefer to look deeper to the potential managers possess to improve and do better; to be better.
I see that managers sell themselves short, and that they are capable of getting more done than they think. A large part of my coaching efforts have to do with stripping away and knocking down the self-imposed barriers and obstacles many managers have assumed are standing in their way, so that they will charge ahead and go for it. I freely admit I have counseled many of them to seize their opportunities, act with a far greater sense of urgency, and then ask forgiveness instead of permission should it become necessary.
Therefore, while I loved much about Bakke’s book, throughout my reading I often found I asked myself, what’s in this for managers?
Generally, the answer was, ‘the same things.’ The benefits of Joy At Work should be for everyone, just as those from Managing with Aloha should. For instance,
—a place where people love coming to work and are highly productive on a daily basis
—a place where leaders and top executives obliterate labor-management divisions and push decision-making ownership down to every level
—a place in which everyone maximizes his or her God-given potential and serves the community and society at the same time
—a place where ordinary people gain freedom, independence, and a feeling of control over their own destiny
—a place which is joyful and immensely satisfying
What Joy At Work also made me realize however, was that managers—and more so those higher up the ranks—will be the ones standing in the way of Bakke’s proposed formula, for he explains why “the greatest obstacle to worker satisfaction is management’s craving for status and power.” He proposes that the key to Joy At Work, is when “some 99% of all important decisions are made by nonleaders at the lowest practicable organizational level.” The present reality for most leaders however, is that they’ve had to pay some significant dues to gain that ‘right and privilege’ and relinquishing that control is not going to be easy.
This is what Bakke sees as the role of Leaders and Managers in the Joy At Work approach:
- Leaders see their role as serving other employees.
- Leaders are mentors, coaches, teachers, helpers, and cheerleaders.
- Leaders allow subordinates to manage resources and make decisions. Leaders oversee a rigorous advice process and fire people who do not use it appropriately.
- Leaders advocate self-accountability, self-initiative, self-control, and individual responsibility among employees.
If you are a manager, is that enough for you to have Joy At Work too? Or have we narrowed the ‘perks of the calling’”
Bakke tells an interesting story of his own plant managers’ negative reactions to what they perceived to be a breakdown of structure and order in the Joy At Work formula. If you believe in the benefits of Joy At Work, and you believe that such changes are in fact inevitable, his story raises the transition question of how to respectfully honor, re-cast, and help existing managers buy in to relinquishing the power and authority they’ve worked so hard to earn.
There is much more to explore in Joy At Work, and I am happy that others in our Ho‘ohana Community are taking the journey. Click in to:
Redefining our Joy At Work by Christopher Bailey
All You Need is Love in the Workplace by Christopher Bailey
The Half-Full Book Review of Joy At Work by Starbucker
”and my first mention: Reinvented Work, So many possibilities.