I first became exposed to the term Limousine Liberal when I arrived in the United States to attend university. For those who don’t know, Limousine Liberal is a less than flattering term used in politics to describe rich people who espouse left leaning policies but don’t adhere by them. You must use an environmental friendly Prius, please ignore my 12 cylinder gas guzzling Land Cruiser. You must use the bus, please excuse my S63 Mercedes. You know the type of person.
I believe that I have uncovered a similar sickness in the world of business. I have decided on a preliminary name of Bourgeois Bolshevik. This is a person who espouses complete garbage under the guise of being a friend of the regular employee. I have collected some evidence. Shall we begin?
Non-monetary compensation incentives
My biggest problem when some manager comes up with this gem is that what they really mean is “non-monetary incentives in lieu of cash.” Let’s jump right into it shall we? What exactly are we talking about? I’ll tell you what we aren’t talking about: car and driver. That is for senior management not for employees.
Okay, how about maternity leave? Well, that isn’t compensation, is it? It’s like saying that chairs will be made available as part of incentives. This is a basic human right that should be expected. Calling human compassion an incentive is perverted.
Let’s go smaller: best employee plaques, restaurant coupons, etc. This is frankly humiliating. Tell the employee he’s done great, announce it to the firm, put it in his permanent record and his references. But save the money on the plaque and give it to him in the form of cash. Same for the restaurant coupon.
People know what they want far better than their employer. Give them cash and be done with it. The only way non-monetary compensation works is if the employer has a comparative advantage over the employee. Even then it is no guarantee. A landscaping company offering its services for free to top performing employees is of little use if said employees live in apartments.
Buy-in from the troops
How much more condescending can you get? Now, I’d understand “Get feedback”, “Discuss with”, etc. But buy-in? That’s just code for “I’ve made my decision but let me look good in front of senior management by pretending to care about the plebs, and good in front of the plebs pretending to involve them in the decision making process.”
What is most patronizing is not the issue of ignoring the employees in the decision making process, egregious as that is, but expecting employees to not realise that they are being pandered to!
This one is a doozy, a double hit if you will. The idea of empowerment is to allow employees the freedom to make decisions without reverting to a supervisor. I fail to see why this is a novel idea. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the employee is capable of making decisions then isn’t the correct question why didn’t he have the authority to do so in the first place, and which idiot needs to be fired for creating this situation?
The second, and much worse, hit is the word empower. Why not authorize? Empower says that you, the employee, have no power. When I empower you, I and I alone am giving you a bit of power. So that you feel important. Yes, authorize is much better.
Translation: I cannot defend it on commercial grounds, so I am going to anoint it “special.” Sort of like a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Agent of change
But what kind of change? Competent change? Commercially relevant change? Or Tasmanian Devil carnage? Usually the latter, making employees’ lives miserable under the guise of transformation.
Take one for the team
I…I really don’t understand how I can make it any clearer why this is bad. I really don’t.
Now, one could go on for a long, long time listing inane management phrases. But I am more of a ‘teach a man to fish’ person rather than ‘give a man a fish.’ I therefore feel that my work here is done.
If you are a manager, I hope you have learned something. As a source of childhood wisdom would repeatedly say: Don’t be a plonker all of your life.
If you are an employee, don’t give up hope. There are managers out there who aren’t plonkers. Well, not too much.