We are partnering with you in a new way of approaching training and development in the workplace to be successful managers and have a fulfilling work life.
How different and innovative our approach is?
For one thing, mainstream approaches are all about managing oneself: empowering oneself, getting skills for oneself, etc etc, which is important but inadequate. For another thing, the focus on the individual as the locus of control leaves managers alone with their own problems and sufferings, and fails to appreciate that problems are created collectively - at least in part - and can only be resolved collectively. This is why standard corporate offerings leave people looking for more: no-one gets what they actually are yearning for.
From the perspective of psychodynamics of work, the collective is an inextricable dimension of psychic development, and therefore of coping, and mental health overall.
We engage in work precisely because we are social creatures: we belong to and are ‘created’ as persons through social relations. Outside work/society there are no persons. That's why Dejours says that work is 'ordinary sublimation'; and sublimation is the psychic work required to become a person by getting along with other persons; and why not getting along is so painful. What we are saying is: expand the field of understanding from the individual manager as the locus of control & effort to the work group: stop trying to manage everything; give up control and become part of the collective rationality that is all around you in the workplace. When that happens through robust processes of cooperative deliberation, all the mental energy being drained by rigid, illogical, isolating, or ineffective work practices becomes available at exactly the same time that social bonds are created: hey presto! teamwork AND innovation. More deeply, the theoretical framework draws from philosophy and psychoanalytic theory in the following key ways:
All human beings, from birth to death, have to strive to overcome ‘the resistance of the real’, ie the sheer brutal reality that we don’t get what we want whenever we want it (damn it!)
Work presents its own forms of resistance that workers have to overcome, eg policy and rules, tools, schedules, other people, and pointedly, how the work itself is organised (Dejours calls all this ‘the real of work”)
Specifically, there is always a gap between the position description and the practical reality that is required to realise the tasks and duties. This gap occupies “the real of work”: all the things that have to be navigated and negotiated to get the work done.
Facing the resistance of the real is ego-threatening and elicits anxiety unconsciously (sometimes called suffering, but is not pathological pain). Success in overcoming resistance calls for the exercise of practical intelligence – which humans readily do if circumstances permit!
Part of the resistance of the real concerns relations with others and the deep need for recognition, especially acknowledgement that one has done a good job (which is an important part of the ‘proof’ that one has overcome the resistance of the real). If recognition is withheld (eg lack of cooperation, isolation, bullying etc) suffering, becomes pathological pain and mental illness can result along with poor productivity and lack of innovation.
Healthy workplaces allow the exercise of practical intelligence: problem solving, collaboration and creativity that supports the worker to overcome the resistance of the real and achieve in the workplace and be mentally well. Crucially, these are workplaces where recognition of a job well done happens easily and regularly because workers are open about what they are doing & faciing.
The worst suffering experienced by workers occurs when resistance cannot be overcome, evidenced, among other things, by the feeling that one simply lacks the resources (inner and outer) to do a good job. Workers can deal with almost anything else, but this is devastating for one’s sense of agency and professional identity.
Because work is done with others, everyone requires the cooperation of others. Moreover, one cannot know that one has done a good job without that recognition from peers, since only peers know what actually has to be done in doing the work.
But unless everyone shares their experiences of doing the work, vital, tacit knowledge and skills needed for practical intelligence to overcome the resistance of the real of work will be missing (the result of which is mental illness). This is a feature of poor performing teams; and this is why work requires cooperative processes to share information and intelligence, agree on what actually needs to be done, what priorities are, and how the work should proceed.
Imagine the impact of this approach to management for your work fulfilment!
Take a moment to consider what life would be like if you experienced less suffering and an increasingly healthy workplace culture?
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