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"freerange enterprise" is growing. In NZ, two-thirds of students intended to work for themselves.

I resolve the ethical dilemma this way. When people are clear about possibilities, they can work out what they want and proceed accordingly. When they are not clear, they are distracted, demotivated, etc. etc. I think people who have the choice of leaving are more willingly to stay and be highly engaged. People who have no choice of leaving have only one choice for establishing psychological equity - do less work.

There we are. As for bosses, let's turn this around. So let's say I am the boss. It would be narcissistic of me to want everyone to think I am good, pleasurable as that would be. What is important is that right now this job is delivering what they need in their story. And what they need depends upon their unique story. I want to find out what that story is and keep their eye on their own story, including developing further opportunties for themselves. Some people stay forever because that is what they need. Some will move on. Some spend a long time with us and during that time we can put opportunties their way to develop their value in the wider market. All good!

peter vajda


A powerful insight, a solid truth....when you say: "I think people who have the choice of leaving are more willingly to stay and be highly engaged. People who have no choice of leaving have only one choice for establishing psychological equity - do less work."

This is the "secret sauce" of engagement...both in relationships at work and relationships outside of work...the best insurance that a relationship will "work" is if one or the other partner is willing to walk..if their requirements (once clarified and articulated) are not met. If they are willing to walk and then choose to stay in the relationship, it's for healthy reasons.

When one's requirements are not met, and one continues to stay in the relationship, it's solely due to a dysfunction or co-dependence in some way, shape or form--and one not based on true, honest, healthy and self-responsible choice. Thus the excuse many stay in jobs they hate...or in "love" relationships they just can't or that are abusive in some way.

Mile High Pixie

Wow, those are good comments. Peter! You touch on something that continues to vex the American workforce right now. Many of us have had layoffs at our companies, so whoever's left has to do their work and the work of whoever was laid off. Even if the laid-off person's work wasn't enough to fill 40 hours (hence their dismissal), it's still more than we were doing in the first place. But when the job market is tight, most of us can't just leave, or we don't feel comfortable just leaving, because there's no guarantee that we'll find something else to pay the bills. This situation breeds a dysfunctional relationship: I don't think I can survive out there without you, so I'll stay here and take your abuse and find some way to compensate (short you on hours, take 90-minute lunches, etc.).

Personally, if I don't think I can talk to my boss about how s/he treats me, then I need a new boss.

Steve Roesler

Jo and Peter,

You've highlighted three related ingredients: clarity, relationship, and willingness to act on the second based upon the first.

The alternative is numbness and a life painted in shades of gray.

Steve Roesler

Mile High,

Didn't they do a heck of a job?

I just had a lengthy conversation with a worker whose situation mirrors the one you present. The boss isn't tracking how much work is given to various employees and is verbally zapping people who have been given twice as much work as a colleague. When confronted, the response is: "Well, you ought to be able to get it done anyway. You can come in early or leave late."

Part of the problem with that answer is: People are already coming in early, leaving late, and working on weekends.

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