Tag Archives: meaningfulness

How to Be a Great Boss… From Hell, For Dummies

Some very basic lessons on how to be a truly bad boss. Lesson number one: keep your employees from making any contribution to or progress on meaningful work.

[div class=attrib]From the Washington Post:[end-div]

Recall your worst day at work, when events of the day left you frustrated, unmotivated by the job, and brimming with disdain for your boss and your organization. That day is probably unforgettable. But do you know exactly how your boss was able to make it so horrible for you? Our research provides insight into the precise levers you can use to re-create that sort of memorable experience for your own underlings.

Over the past 15 years, we have studied what makes people happy and engaged at work. In discovering the answer, we also learned a lot about misery at work. Our research method was pretty straightforward. We collected confidential electronic diaries from 238 professionals in seven companies, each day for several months. All told, those diaries described nearly 12,000 days – how people felt, and the events that stood out in their minds. Systematically analyzing those diaries, we compared the events occurring on the best days with those on the worst.

What we discovered is that the key factor you can use to make employees miserable on the job is to simply keep them from making progress in meaningful work.

People want to make a valuable contribution, and feel great when they make progress toward doing so. Knowing this progress principle is the first step to knowing how to destroy an employee’s work life. Many leaders, from team managers to CEOs, are already surprisingly expert at smothering employee engagement. In fact, on one-third of those 12,000 days, the person writing the diary was either unhappy at work, demotivated by the work, or both.

That’s pretty efficient work-life demolition, but it leaves room for improvement.

Step 1: Never allow pride of accomplishment. When we analyzed the events occurring on people’s very worst days at the office, one thing stood out: setbacks. Setbacks are any instances where employees feel stalled in their most important work or unable to make any meaningful contribution. So, at every turn, stymie employees’ desire to make a difference. One of the most effective examples we saw was a head of product development, who routinely moved people on and off projects like chess pieces in a game for which only he had the rules.

The next step follows organically from the first.

Step 2: Miss no opportunity to block progress on employees’ projects. Every day, you’ll see dozens of ways to inhibit substantial forward movement on your subordinates’ most important efforts. Goal-setting is a great place to start. Give conflicting goals, change them as frequently as possible, and allow people no autonomy in meeting them. If you get this formula just right, the destructive effects on motivation and performance can be truly dramatic.

[div class=attrib]Read the entire article here.[end-div]

[div class=attrib]Image courtesy of Google search.[end-div]

Susan Wolf and Meaningfulness

[div class=attrib]From PEA Soup:[end-div]

A lot of interesting work has been done recently on what makes lives meaningful. One brilliant example of this is Susan Wolf’s recent wonderful book Meaning in Life and Why It Matters. It consists of two short lectures, critical commentaries by John Koethe, Robert M. Adams, Nomy Arpaly, and Jonathan Haidt, and responses by Wolf herself. What I want to do here is to introduce quickly Wolf’s ‘Fitting Fulfillment’ View, and then I’ll raise a potential objection to it.

According to Wolf, all meaningful lives have both a ‘subjective’ and an ‘objective’ element to them. These elements can make lives meaningful only together. Wolf’s view of the subjective side is highly complex. The starting-point is the idea that agent’s projects and activities ultimately make her life meaningful. However, this happens only when the projects and activities satisfy two conditions on the subjective side and one on the objective side.
Firstly, in order for one’s projects and activities to make one’s life meaningful, one must be at least somewhat successful in carrying them out. This does not mean that one must fully complete one’s projects and excel in the activities but, other things being equal, the more successful one is in one’s projects and activities the more they can contribute to the meaningfulness of one’s life.

Secondly, one must have a special relation to one’s projects and activities. This special relation has several overlapping aspects which seem to have two main aspects. I’ll call one of them the ‘loving relation’. Thus, Wolf often seems to claim that one must love the relevant projects and activities, experience subjective attraction towards them, and be gripped and excited by them. This seems to imply that one must be passionate about the relevant projects and activities. It also seems to entail that our willingness to pursue the relevant projects must be diachronically stable (and even constitute ‘volitional necessities’).

The second aspect could be called the ‘fulfilment side’. This means that, when one is successfully engaged in one’s projects and activities, one must experience some positive sensations – fulfilment, satisfaction, feeling good and happy and the like. Wolf is careful to emphasise that there need not be single felt quality present in all cases. Rather, there is a range of the positive experiences some of which need to be present in each case.

Finally, on the objective side, one’s projects and activities must be objectively worthwhile. One way to think about this is to start from the idea that one can be more or less successful in the relevant projects and activities. This seems to entail that the relevant projects and activities are difficult to complete and master in the beginning. As a result, one can become better in them through practice.

The objective element of Wolf’s view requires that some objective values are promoted either during this process or as a consequence of completion. There are some basic reasons to take part in the activities and to try to succeed in the relevant projects. These reasons are neither purely prudential nor necessarily universal moral reasons. Wolf is a pluralist about which projects and activities are objectively worthwhile (she takes no substantial stand in order to avoid any criticism of elitism). She also emphasises that saying all of this is fairly neutral metaethically.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]

Are We Intelligent Matter or Incarnate Spirit?

[div class=attrib]From Evolutionary Philosophy:[end-div]

One of the most confounding philosophical questions involves our understanding of who we really are. Are we intelligent matter – stuff that got smart – or are we incarnate spirit – smarts that grew stuff around it? This question is inherent in the very nature of our experience of being human. We have bodies and we have the experience of consciousness – mind and matter, body and soul. Which one is more us, which came first, and which is really running the show?

The great religious traditions of the west have tended towards the outlook that we are spiritual beings who became flesh. First there was God, pure spirit and from God came us. Our more recent scientific understanding of reality has lead many to believe that we are matter that evolved into life and intelligence. Now, of course, there are always those who land somewhere in between these extremes – probably most people reading this blog for instance – still this is the divide that has generally separated science from religion and idealists from materialists.

If, in fact, we are essentially spirit that has taken form it would mean that in some significant way human beings are separate from the universe. We have some source of intelligence and will that is free from the rest of nature, that acts in nature while maintaining a foothold in some transcendent outside reference point. In this view, the core of our being stands apart from and above the laws of nature and we are therefore uniquely autonomous and responsible as the source of our own action in the universe.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]