Keeping in touch with what the enemy is thinking notwithstanding, I finally had enough and removed my name from an email list for an outfit called, perhaps with intended irony, “Progressive Business Publications”.
This organization was founded by one Ed Satell, a weathy Republican entrepreneur known for his charitable work in the greater Philadelphia area.
Last year, the Connecticut AG launched an investigation into this company for “deceptively market(ing) and sell(ing) state compliance posters to employers–posters that are already available from the state, free of charge”.
Progressive Business Publications’ catalog has dozens of audio conferences on practical subjects like energy compliance, finance and accounting.
Sprinkled in among these, though, are a few sinister titles that suggest that they advocate sadistic management practices for “difficult” employees.
Some examples: “Managing Employees from Hell: Discipline That Gets Results”, “Take a Stand Today: Squash Negative Attitudes in the Workplace”, “Stop Hiring Losers: How to Read People Like a Book”, “Stopping Difficult People from Sucking the Life Out of Your Organization”.
Just reading these titles is enough to chill one clear to the bone.
It brings to mind the disgusting crimes of Josef Fritzl, the psychopath who imprisoned and raped his daughter because she was the most high-spirited of his children.
Similar story for Dave Pelzer, author of “A Child Called It”, who endured unimaginable torture from his mother for years because he was “a disruptive kid,” whatever that means (independent? hyperactive? a normal little boy?)
My point is that the great majority of office environments in the United States operate on a pre-Union era factory model of unrestrained control and punishment.
That means that any employee who doesn’t act like an automaton is a “threat”, or “difficult”, or even “hellish”.
It also assumes that management is perfect in all respects, and any employee who questions management is a problem.
In this post-Enron, post-Lehman era, I don’t need to remind readers of this blog of what a ridiculous assumption that is.
Perhaps “management” and their HR minions need to re-assess what characteristics or behaviors are considered “hellish” in their organizations.
But what am I thinking? That would require a level of honesty and self-evaluation that is impossible to expect from the spoiled, cosseted, primarily white male big shots that seem to have infected every American business, from the corner grocery store to our largest financial institutions.
Show me an office where the primary goal is anything but fear and intimidation, and I’ll show you a company in Scandinavia.