John Bordeaux – We are disengaged with where our work is being done

One of the dark sides is I can say I’m collaborating because my teammates meets every couple of days and it doesn’t take us much; it’s pretty quick; we’re globally distributed. But if the meeting hierarchy – if the meeting dynamics, and the conversational dynamics, and the sense around the table is all of one mind, I’m basically taking a shortcut. I’ll say I’m collaborating but basically I’m going back to just make sure you all agree that I’m right about this, and dysfunctional leadership is going to be dysfunctional, no matter what technology or behaviors we introduce. But you can say you feel social.

You can be a CEO who blogs regularly and you get a lot of nice comments on your blog and you say: “Look, I’m interacting with my workforce.” And you know, the downside of that is if you’re actually not acting on a feedback, you’re not welcoming negative feedback, you are presenting yourself as interacting, and people that know you’re not interacting honestly are going to become even more disconnected and disengaged with the work. And I love that – the finding. I love that in an academic sense. I love the finding that how many of us are disengaged from work, disengaged from our employer. I don’t think we’re disengaged from the work and I’m actually I didn’t – in detail, the research is here. I think we’re disengaged with where our work is being done, and who it’s being done for, and towards what end.

So, it’s not that we’re all just becoming lazier because we can have a much comfortable lifestyle than anyone else in history before us. I really think it’s that we would like to find work that matters. We would like to be engaged in a process where we believe, beyond anything. But because we’re becoming more transparent, those Victorian structures we set up on how people should work are becoming more transparently ridiculous. And so the more workers can see and then –the more workers can see the transparency and the ridiculousness of the process and frameworks, the incentives we have together, they just give – of course, you feel more liberated to say, “This is not where I live. My identity is being shifted and my identity is now going to be with my family or with my community group or with my charity work, whatever I’m doing because my identity cannot be with this ridiculous machine approach to my life and my value on what I write and what I do.” So, I don’t feel connected to that because I don’t think that’s a long term approach and it doesn’t make me feel like it’s a value, it’s a contribution, it’s not a legacy I want to leave. So, I’m going to shift my identity.

And I think what’s happening in that disengagement, it’s funny that the research said, “it’s just disengagement from work.” My question is where did that engagement go because we’re still social creatures? We still are very much engaged. So, it’s not that we’re just shutting down like zombies, it’s that we move that engagement somewhere else. Where did it go and how do we, you know – how do we understand that better?

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