What to Do When the Boss Is Wrong – The Atlantic, 5 May 2019, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Standing up for non-compliance
“Mercurial bosses in dysfunctional offices sometimes give orders that their employees just ignore – even when that dysfunctional office is the highest in the country. According to Robert Mueller’s recent report, Donald Trump tried to get his staff to impede the special counsel’s investigation, but figures such as Don McGahn and Rod Rosenstein protected the president – and themselves – by quietly letting those orders slide.”
Through the WI Lens
The command-and-control workplace model depends upon employees doing what they’re told without question – as if they were military grunts. But an increasing body of evidence finds that one of the main causes of stress – and mental health problems at work – is lack of agency: employees feeling that they have no control over their workload, or how they carry out what they’ve been given to do. This is an article about subordination, which focuses more on the organizational consequences of excessive conformity, and argues that workplaces work better when they allow a certain amount of defiance. That’s not just in terms of productivity – although corporate history is replete with examples of “cult of CEO” firms that failed – but also in terms of ethics and company culture. As the author puts it, “disagreement helps people make better decisions”. It’s a lesson every workplace can learn from, and one that could result in more rounded, mentally resilient, and loyal employees.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.