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Mary Jo Asmus

Nice, Steve. Love the idea of humanizing the workplace.

I'm sure that you've had the experience, as I have, of coaching groups with a long history together (often many years), and hearing someone say "I didn't know that about you" - to someone else in the group. It always surprises me. As humans,we want and need to have relationships at work, and that requires acknowledging each other's human-ness. And maybe being vulnerable a bit in what we reveal.

I think one of the reasons that the workplace has become de-humanized through separation of names and roles is that it is easier to be tough with a role than it is with name. Particularly true during times of re-organization or lay offs. Sad, but true - and now, more than ever, we need to take a stand to keep our workplaces human.

Bay Jordan

Hi Steve

You make a very perceptive and valid obeservation here (as I would expect!) However, I think the problem has deeper roots and actually starts with the recruitment process.

People are hired to fill roles. This means that they have to meet a checklist of requirements. This may be necessary because the recruiters do not have the technical proficiency to assess a candidate's suitability for the position, but it it is the start of the dehumanising process. This means that all too often the total person is disregarded and other potentially significant attributes which could contribute more to the business in the longer-term are overlooked. This is where the seeds of employee disengagement are sown. They are of course compounded by all these other factors that you so rightly point out!

As a corollary to all this, I think there is a danger that we actually lose sight of who we are as individuals. Maybe this just says something about me and what a sad case I am, but I recently attended a networking event where I was called upon to tell of 3 things about myself that were not work related and I found it a real challenge: everything I could think of was either connected to my work or my family!

peter vajda

I think Bay's points make much sense. When we take a "task orientation" to work rather than a "task orientation" AND a "people orientaton," we inadvertently and unconsciously come to see the world of work as roles, functions, and tasks, not as "people" who, by the way, have roles, and engage in functions and tasks.
So, in this "when all you have is a hammer (role, function, taks), everything looks like a nail (role, function, task)orientation, we lose sight of the "human" side of life at work.

Too, when we are in networking and other work-related situations the focus, consciously or unconsciously" is most often on the "what do I/you DO", as opposed to, for example, "who are you (who am I) and, by the way, what do you (I) do?" From this place it's no surprise that we often react like deer in the headlights when someone asks "me" about "me" as opposed to "my job".

This task orientation, sadly, often plays out at home as well, unconsciously....I do the yard work, I do the repairs, I do the bills, you do the laundry, you take care of the kids, you provide sex, you make dinner arrangements, you do the cleaning, etc., unaware that we are relegating one another to, a viewing one another as, "task and responsibility" folks-robots-automotons. No woner many relationships lack more and more conectivity, intimacy and "humane-ness" as we are quietly encolvoing more and more and more into human do-ings and less and less into human be-ings.

Finally, it rests on "me" to be conscous of my self, my humanity, in my everyday life at work and at home. Do I have the strength and courgae to be "human" at work, also taking a "poeple orientation" in my interactions with others, and in the way I orient to the world of work? As Gandhi said, "be the change you want to see." When I choose to be "all about work," I can hardly blame others for doing the same.

Steve Roesler

Mary Jo, Bay, and Peter,

Bay points out, rightfully so, that we are hired to fill a role.

As I read the totality of the discussion, what jumps out is the tendency to "take on a role" as one's identity. Perhaps organizational pressures aren't the only culprits here; we collude by verbalizing our "selves" in the context of (as Peter says) what we do and not who we are.

If we do that long enough it can become a self-defeating mantra.

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