MAPping the FutureColumn in INQUIRER
Discuss the Future of Work over a Cold Beerwritten by Mr. Cliff Eala - November 7, 2022
In our grandparents’ time, a pair of gentlemen said that we are smart, in complete control of ourselves, and always act solely in our interest. With these traits, we seek what is most useful and valuable, which we usually measure with a price.
Those gentlemen consolidated their thoughts into what economists call the Von Neumann–Morgenstern expected utility theory. According to this, we always act to maximize utility based on the assumptions that we are always rational, have total self-control, and always act in our interest. They say we operate with rationality, self-control and self-interest. But, our daily experiences tell us otherwise.
Our risk preferences are irrationally inconsistent. We are risk-seeking with lotteries, while we are risk-averse with insurance, despite facing similar risk probabilities. We don’t like insurance risk because we frame it as a loss. We like lottery risk because we frame it as a gain. Losses loom larger than gains. We dislike a loss more than we like a gain of the same size.
We prefer one cookie now more than two cookies next week, which shows present bias and inconsistent discounting. Our discount rates increase closer to the present.
We have more self-control in the future. We find it easier to lose weight one year from now than to lose weight today.
We go out of our way to help others at work and outside work. We have kids even if we know that, like us, they will be more than a decade’s source of sleepless nights and stressful bothers. We are self-giving and do stupid things like fall in love and marry even if we know that our odds of success are 6 out of 10.
Unfortunately, these assumptions about human functioning have spilt over to our management practices. We manage people as if they are entirely rational, always in control of themselves, and do everything only out of self-interest.
We dangle a carrot and expect people to do the work we want. Then, we dangle more carrots to push people for more work. We continue until they break or have the wisdom to quit early enough. We hire with a bias for men in senior management positions when their rationality doesn’t account for the cognitive diversity that comes from women’s lived experiences. We think mental health in the workplace is for the weak; the self-interested use of plastic is free, or working less than twelve hours a day is for underperformers.
“Quiet quitting” is one spillover of traditional mindsets, motivations, and management practices. Quiet quitting is a catchy rebranding of disengagement at work. This disengagement arises from the imbalance of management priorities. Quiet quitting isn’t always a bad thing though. It is when it signals a lack of commitment, but not when it is an attempt to bring balance into life through compartmentalized disengagement.
We should start questioning the beliefs we anchor our management practices on and challenge the naïve and polarized simplification of binary fixes. Let’s open up to more diverse and nuanced thinking to address the complex imbalance that we have created. Let’s design a workplace where that balance we seek can freely come to life.
Next-generation leaders, this is your time to step up. Shape the future of work by joining the conversation on the generational shift of mindsets, motivations, and management. Build bridges that build business through our reciprocity wall and speed networking.
Join us at the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) NextGen CEO Conference on “THE GENERATIONAL SHIFT: Mindsets, Motivations, Management” on 11 November 2022, Friday from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the ColLab space of the Sheraton Hotel, within the Newport World Resorts. Discuss, network and share. Friday drinks are on us. Don’t miss this one!
Email <firstname.lastname@example.org> for registration details.
(The author is Chair of the MAP NextGen Committee organizing the 3rd MAP NextGen Conference. He is a behavioral strategist, tech entrepreneur and author. Feedback via email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org).