Look to how you spend your time, this is what you value. What you say you value is just wishful thinking, time is the currency.
I’ve been thinking about why I write about work, employee, employment. Like a lot of Americans, I spend a tremendous about of time working. It is part of our national ethos; work is good, to succeed do more of it. When we tie or even transfer our identity to our productivity, we push into it even more. Binding our physical and financial needs to this success, through our health insurance and paychecks, transforms the idea of “work” from a light tether to a steel cord. “Work” becomes the guidewires that hold us in place. Not that you can’t succeed through work, but that it is always there.
Perhaps that is what fascinates me about it — the structure of it. Within the realms of organizational design, employee experience, and management, there are endless ways to put the pieces together, opportunities to create a better experience, and to meet the needs of the people while advancing the company’s mission. It is a massive strategy game full of moving pieces set against the backdrop of economic risk, evolving technology, human drama, and very real consequences for failure, puzzles within puzzles. We exert a tremendous amount of effort trying to mitigate risk, to guarantee that we are making the right decision, and yet, we are the most brittle piece of the puzzle. We work to understand the users of the technology we build, yet we struggle with our own deadlines and expectations. We know our users are complex human beings with motivations, behaviors, even quirks that we might attribute to a company’s culture, but it is harder to turn that empathy and understanding on ourselves.
This is what I keep coming back to — how to make sense of the human drama that unfolds within the structure of work? What is that agreed-to-framework that we think of as professional behavior or standards? By who’s authority, what consensus? How does it change or evolve within each company? What is the relationship of the whole (the company) to the parts (the people) and vice versa?
If this is where we spend our time, shouldn’t we understand the story?