When you think of all the supposed innovations and revolutions in management and corporate practices over recent years, it seems almost unbelievable that we are willing to tolerate an archaic system where most of us are little more than serfs. This classic have and have nots scenario seems to raise barely a whisper of protest.
I think it is time to raise the volume!
How many people would suggest that serfdom was a good idea? That 99 per cent of the workforce should bear the burden for a fraction of the rewards; that no matter how hard I work or how much I contribute to the success of the community I am hampered by an innately unfair system.
Foregoing worrying issues about its morality, consider the ramifications to morale and productivity? Is this really the model you choose to run your business on in 2006? If you don't think that is how you run your business then you need a reality check.
Did your average serf work his or hers fingers to the bone when the whip bearers were out of sight? Of course not. Were they loyal and motivated? Are you kidding?
Ok, I know you are probably thinking I am overemphasising the point. Let's see, how many organisations and businesses out there practice an egalitarian reward system today? Can your Office Junior earn as much as your CEO even if they contribute equally to profitability?
Consider this; how many CEO's can there be in one organisation? How about CIO's or CFO's? How many Indians versus how many Chiefs can one organisation support? Let's revisit that point in a moment.
What motivates your average employee regardless of their level in the organisation? Money - certainly. Power - possibly. Status, manifesting itself as self-esteem and self-confidence – you bet! Let's refer to it as our MPS (Money, Power, Status) Quotient.
I am going to be conservative and suggest that the motivating factors listed above will only apply to 99 per cent of the working population. So, tell me why are we promoting a system where only the fortunate few can benefit; where my MPS Quotient is artificially capped.
Now, the official line will be that this is to do with costs, budgets and discipline in the workplace. Nonsense, it is designed to deliberately create a have and have not system, so each person knows his or her place.
How is it perpetuated? We choose to only reward those people with certain gifts in certain disciplines and quite frankly it is stupidity of the highest order.
I am not suggesting that the office junior should be on the same salary as your CEO by default, but why not if they can make an equally valid contribution to the business' success? Going back to the previous point about Chiefs and Indians, it is obvious that there are only a handful of positions available for Chiefs.
Does this mean that my only chance of a satisfying MPS Quotient is if I can wangle a role as a Chief? It seems a certainty that only a minority will ever be satisfied. Enter much time wasted on office politics, plotting and scheming to become one.
Here is where the tragedy and stupidity is really played out. Many of the Indians like being Indians and if they are only encouraged to be the best Indian they can be with unlimited financial rewards and kudos then we will easily tick all of our MPS Quotient boxes.
Ask yourself, are arbitrary roles and pay grades designed to elevate or to control?
It is a sad fact that even in the 21st century no matter how well I do my job as a programmer, secretary or clerk, no matter how much I enjoy what I do, no matter how much I contribute to the bottom line, I cannot fulfil my MPS Quotient unless I aim to become a Chief.
No matter that I don't have the skills. No matter that I don't particularly want the role. I have to go for it, or remain a serf. It is a rock around my neck keeping me down and signifying my lowly status.
Is it any wonder that motivation and morale is at an all time low? Would we accept such a system in any other aspect of our society?
I have worked with many organisations on just this issue and the results have always been astounding! When we develop and implement a truly egalitarian system where each individual is free of artificial caps and arbitrary status, but judged solely on the merits they bring to their role, the levels of organisational motivation and morale skyrocket.
It is certainly not true to suggest that everyone starts earning 300K, but if I know that I could if I write a great bit of code or if, as has happened, I am a janitor that develops an innovative new system of waste disposal, saving a hundred thousand pounds over the next few years, then… why not?
Forget your outdated Feudal Systems that exist just because they do. Let's make a pledge to bring the workplace into line with 21st century morality and common sense.
That's a song that will live on and pay royalties long after we have left the building.