As I mentioned in a previous article on The Manager of Today, many of our educational institutions and businesses have been modeled after the military where everyone needs to think the same way, dress the same, get access to the same information, and do what they are told, just like everyone else. This model is quickly crumbling and as Clay Shirky aptly pointed out, “social” is changing communication or work, it’s changing everything. One of the things I find particularly interesting when looking at the workplace is the terminology we use to describe work and things related to it. Many of the terms, concepts, and ideas we used to create our companies are archaic. Here are a few:
Work, The activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something. Synonyms include: drudgery, struggle, daily grind
Company, A chartered commercial organization or medieval trade guild. Synonyms include: club, crew, gang.
Manager, Someone who controls all or part of a company. Synonyms include: slavedriver, boss, zookeeper.
Employee, A person working for another person or business for pay. Synonyms include: cog, servant, slave.
The synonyms are all real. Now, when you look at the terms we used to build our companies it’s no wonder that it is so hard for many organizations to change their corporate culture. These terms aren’t old, they are archaic. This isn’t about changing the definitions in the dictionary this is about changing what these things mean at your workplace. Is an employee someone who just works at your company for pay? Is work just the daily grind?
Organizations looking to evolve the way the way they work and make a suitable environment for the “future worker” need to seriously reconsider what these thing mean. I encourage every organization to go through some of the terms and concepts that we take for granted and redefine them for their future workplace, then, put them in a public place for all to see. If you want to start change you need to start with changing what these things mean to your employees and managers. Let’s change the way we think, starting with the very basics.
It’s time to evolve and make way for the future worker and the future workplace.