Healthfully Handling Employees

Several years ago – before the crash of the dot coms, I subscribed to Fast Company. Though the magazine has gotten much thinner of late, it is still putting out interesting articles on organization and leadership – and from the church perspective, windows into our culture.

In a recent piece they look at and the new book put out by the owners. The motivation industry puffs everyone up, aiming to make peopel feel good (sound familiar church?). Here’s what the authors say:

“What executives fail to realize is that the life-changing insights sold by the motivational industry are the source of their problems rather than the solution,” Kersten writes. “The primary objective of the motivational industry is to stoke the fires of your employees’ narcissism so that they fall in love with themselves all over again, just as they did when they saw their own beauty in the distorted reflection of their mother’s adoring gaze.”

For Kersten, the heart of the problem lies in what he calls the “noble employee myth,” a product of what he dryly calls the “motivational educational-industrial” — or “ME-I” — complex. The central elements of this myth are that employees are good and productive labor is natural for them. Management is responsible for creating the circumstances that unleash employee motivation and should be blamed when employees fail. Profits should not be pursued at the expense of employee satisfaction. On it goes — the very kinds of things you’d expect to read if Jean-Jacques Rousseau happened to be unleashed in an HR department.

In our churchly effort to meet “felt needs” and make people feel good – centering the gospel on notins like “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for yourlife” – we’ve forgotten sin and the reality of its destructive power in our lives. I think a little de-motivation for us sinners might be a good thing.

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