Power brings with it a ferocious loyalty – however it is my assertion that this loyalty is incredibly selfish. I make the following observation based on my life experience to date. An employee with low-level positional authority, in a place of supervising other employees shows a disproportionate amount of loyalty to their employer. What I mean by disproportionate is that they take the implied goals of the organisation and through a zealot-ed approach to management they make sure those goals are met. Consequently, in my experience this looks a lot like the supervisor being an ass-hole and even worse is when that supervisor is an ass-hole doing unscrupulousness things in order to make sure those goals are met.
Allow me a moment to unpack this a bit further with a couple of examples. A supervisor responsible for scheduling employees utilises guilt, intimidation, and outright threats of loss of employment in order to make sure that shifts are filled by employees. Why would the supervisor feel the need to stoop to such methods in order to coerce and intimidate the employees? They have no financial stake in the business as they are simply a lower level employee themselves. I suggest that it rests in insecurity around their own positional authority and the power associated with it. They feel inclined to demonstrate their loyalty to their employer through archaic methods of intimidation, which really only betray their own deep-seated insecurity around the power that they currently possess. They don’t want to lose the power so this is their attempt to hang onto it. Thus what looks like loyalty is really only a thin veil covering their own vain ambitions to pursue even more power.
Power does that after all. It is all-consuming to the best of us.
The second example is of an implied supervisor but technically is a peer employee. This person is someone who has been with the organisation longer than their peers and has been provided some measure of positional authority based on tenure. A term that I have heard to describe this person would be ‘key-holder’. I find this example even more perplexing because with this key-holder who stoops to using the same types of intimidation they are actually at the very same organisational level as the employees they are intimidating. In a lot of cases they could even be making the same amount of money and yet here we see a heightened sense of loyalty to the employer, which as I have already pointed out is only a selfish attempt to retain that measure of power that they have been given by the employer.
Again power corrupts.
These are examples of a flawed organisational system. One that rewards this type of loyalty without actually understanding the vanity and selfishness associated with the loyalty. Every organisation would love to have their employees demonstrate loyalty however a pitfall is seeing this type of thing play out and to think that what is going on is actually loyalty. It’s not and it is best to not get caught up in thinking that it is for selfish individuals seeking power is a dangerous thing indeed.
Instead a healthy organisational structure would put in place clear policy and procedures, which remove the emotion from the supervision. A healthy organisational structure would work to create a culture that minimises power while recognising authority structures. A healthy organisational structure would focus on building clear communication tools that transpose through each level of authority with ease and function.
How the hell do you do that?
- Clearly defined supervisory roles through well thought out job descriptions
- A clear organisational structure with titles and reporting authority shown
- Clear communication structures such as:
- Structured coaching
- Annual reviews
- Monthly or weekly meetings (a min. of monthly) with subordinates
- Easy to find / locate / use group communication tools such as schedule, minutes from staff meetings, upcoming events, company information
- Well defined disciplinary procedures
In my experience the more structured the workplace can be the less opportunity power has to corrupt and consequently the less frequent one would encounter loyal employees.
And believe me…. organisations today need a hell of a lot less loyal employees…