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Art of managing work as marriage

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:13 PMKarl Salmon

An employer's relationship with its employee shares similar characteristics to a marriage between a husband and a wife. The underlying expectations for both relationships are based on mutual understanding and an agreement to commit to a prosperous, faithful, and harmonious coexistence, bound by legal vows.

The expectation of the employer is to fulfil its promise to the employee by providing a safe and healthy work environment, promote and encourage individual growth, and compensate the employee in accordance with the terms and conditions of the employment contract.

The commitment of the employee is to utilise his skill sets to perform according to the mission, goals, objectives, and expectations of the organisation.

Here is an all-too-familiar chicken dance that narrates the evolution of both relationships:

The pursuer goes in search of a prospect, declaring their interest and attracts their attention. The prospect welcomes the attention received. After all, the pursuer's attributes were impressive and he/she represented himself /herself well.

Then the waiting game begins. Days pass anticipating a phone call. (There is a saying that the anticipation is more exciting than the act itself.)

The call finally comes, two weeks later.

They are growing fond of each other, and both enjoy the direction in which the conversation is heading.

They agree to a face-to-face meeting to probe further for compatibility. They determine that they are a fit for each other and agree to exclusively commit to a relationship.

Time passes and routine activities become mundane; bad habits set in; the parties begin to take each other for granted.

What happens when the vows begin to crumble and break in the workplace?

Neglect and abuse

A bad manager can take a good employee and destroy his morale by consistently overlooking his accomplishments, conveying destructive criticism, and using of improper communication. Eventually, the employee loses motivation and feels unappreciated and abused.

They eventually yearns for fulfilment outside of the relationship.

Visualise this:

Your employer leaves on vacation and entrusts you to maintain productivity and upkeep of the organisation. You diligently and meticulously negotiate agreements to reduce cost and increase revenue. Within reason, you make major decisions above and beyond your scope of responsibilities in order to retain and grow the business. You are stressed out at the end of the week but take pride in your belief that you have made a valuable contribution to the company's success.

The manager returns from vacation and expresses disappointment that you did not turn on the copier when you arrived.

Conversely, employees sometimes contribute to the breakdown of the union by failing to honour their commitment to the vows exchanged.

Employee who makes frequent mistakes or miss deadlines can be a major concern to a company's relationship with its clients. Also, employees who do not take accountability for their actions and blame others for their failures are also warning signs that the they may not have been a good fit.

Frequent absences also show a lack of motivation and could be a sign that interest may no longer be with the company.

Infidelity in the workplace

What causes an employee to look outside of his work to fill that void he is not getting from his employer?

Employers often his forget that it is not the customer or client who drives the growth of the company. It is their employees.

When the employer's focus is solely on the client and on revenue, all those accomplishments and efforts of the employee (sometimes going above and beyond) seem in vain and regrettable. The employee eventually feels neglected and yearns for love, appreciation, and acceptance outside of the Organisation.

This is human nature.

Whether by chance or whether intentional, when an opportunity for a better life outside of the relationship presents itself, the employee will - at least - entertain the thought.

If that person is swept off his feet by a rival that promises or presents an opportunity for a better life, slowly, a plot to escape is concocted.

Building and strengthening relationship

The success of a company depends on the loyalty of its employees. When your employees perform well, reward them. Not just with a pat on the back, but from time to time, with more meaningful rewards and recognitions like further opportunities for growth or better compensation and benefits.

Care should be given to ensure that the relationship employers have with one employee is equal to the relationship they have with other employees. Otherwise, this can lead to accusations of favouritism and unfairness.

Just as with all relationships, the employer - employee relationship is one that must be nurtured and developed over time. Managers should plan activities with employees outside of the company to escape from the monotony of work, and more important, to build friendships, support, and trust. Honest and open interaction regarding the employee's well-being should be initiated, encouraged, and maintained.

The relationship between the employer and employee should be reciprocally beneficial and based on mutual reliance and respect. Managing this relationship is important to business success as strong relationships can lead to greater employee happiness, increased productivity, and long-term commitment.

A happy employee is a productive and faithful one.