There is a way that work realities are constructed that betrays a lack of understanding and acceptance of an uncomfortable, likely future reality; and betrays a comfort with creating a reality that is comfortable, but unlikely:
- The comfortable reality is that employers keep hiring (albeit at a lower/slower rate) and that they keep on the people that they already have.
- The comfortable reality is that college age students will continue to pile on massive student loan debt and the skills that they get in exchange for this debt will somehow be rendered relevant in the future economy.
- The comfortable reality is that employees will continue to be compensated at current (and ever rising) levels as the technical skills that they exhibit continue to remain more relevant than the people skills that can’t be measured.
- The comfortable reality is that all this technological and software advancement will remain nothing more than a meaningless side show with no value to a corporate bottom line, middle line or even top line.
Considering, pontificating and reassuring that “it’s always been this way and will always be this way” in the form of published bromides and policy assurances, calms the employee lizard brain (the cerebellum where fight/flight/freeze responses live) and such statements and actions soothe and serve to maintain the status quo in organizations.
The likely future reality is much, much more complicated. And scary.
- The likely future reality is that technological and software changes in the industrial workplace structure and underlying economy will allow more advancement and innovation to be done with fewer employees.
- The likely future reality is that employees will be compensated less and less (and at ever decreasing rates) until the gap in compensation between top individual organizational performers and the next employee down the line, will mirror the current growing wage gap between the upper class and the middle class in the overall economy.
- The likely future reality is that college students with crushing debt will struggle to learn and integrate emotional and psychological lessons that the academic world did not see fit to teach them at $7.00 per hour jobs. Or that they did not deem important enough to learn in between the socialization and the outrage. All while paying back five and six figure loans.
- The likely future reality is that employers will seek to replace people with algorithms, or computer programs, or software solutions and (at the end of the line) robots, who will demand no pay, no benefits and will have such incredibly high productivity that shareholders will be happy to fire humans as a reflex, even as their returns increase.
Writing, teaching, lecturing or even casually mentioning likely future realities activates the employer/employee/politician/administrator lizard brain and makes fear, avoidance and attack responses kick in at all levels of society, from the C-Suite of an organization to the office of the President of the United States.
True management and supervisory leadership requires clear eyed planning for likely future realities, as well as a sophsticated ability to persuade, cajole and even threaten employees, shareholders, and the public to face likely reality head on. Such leadership will create sustainable economic and social systems that will be antifragile, and able to sustain and evolve from unexpected shocks, rather than attempting to build redundant, robust systems, or constructing fragile systems that fall apart in a heartbeat when the next “it could never happen here” event, happens here.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org