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Are Today’s Companies Becoming Tyrannies?

A typical worker in an American company today is often asked to work late every evening. He is often required to work on weekends. They are not allowed to make personal calls and they are required to adhere to a certain code of conduct or value system devised by the company. Often they are also micromanaged.

Employees are literally expected to be married to the company, which means they can no longer have normal personal lives.

James Damore, an Engineer at Google, after being asked (demanded) to attend a seminor primarily for males, instructing them how to relate to women, was so insensed that he circulated a memo objecting to this seminar and was fired. He broke the rules of the tyranny and was psychologically killed off. He is now engaged in a law suit against Google.

More recently, a lot of big name television and media personalities were suddenly fired from their jobs because people began making accusations of sexual misconduct about them. Garrison Keillor, who had a long-running radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion. He was accused by a man, Dan Rowles, a16-year employee; Rowles made his complaint that Keillor had engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman, immediately after being fired himself.

His complaint triggered internal and external investigations by Minnesota Public Radio that concluded that Keillor had engaged in a sexually inappropriate relationship over the years involving a longtime female writer for the show whose name has not been made public. Keillor was immediately fired, even though he maintained his innocence and spoke of having been the subject of extortion.

Tyrannies don’t have to follow normal procedures of justice. People in companies are not innocent until proven guilty. They are almost immediately found guilty and punished, as soon as the accusations are made and the men or women who make complaints are never questioned. Often they remain anonymous. There is no such thing as a fair trial.

One of my clients wanted to join my therapy group but because he always had to work at night he couldn’t do it. “I can’t join,” he moaned. “I have to keep my nights free for overtime; I can’t get off at 8pm.” That was the time my group started.

“Can’t you tell your boss you have an important appointment every Tuesday night, something essential to your personal and professional health? Or something that would help you do your job better?”

A client who worked at a famous opera company had to work long hours from day to night as well as on weekends. He was basically being asked to perform three jobs and was treated as if he as lucky to have this job. He couldn’t complain. It was expected. If he wanted to take some time off he was treated as if he was almost committing treason.

Another of my clients worked for a law firm for 35 years. In the beginning, in the 1960s, the work environment was pleasant and he got the feeling that the higher-ups cared about the comfort of their employees. Slowly, over the years this began to change. At a certain point they hired a consultant and the consultant recommended cutting my client’s department in half “to cut expenses.”

When the department sent in a petition complaining of the changes complaining of a sweat-shop environment, higher management met them with scorn, viewing the department as troublemakers. Employees now had to work overtime (without pay) in order to finish work that had before been done by three times as many workers. A few years later, they increased the work hours of the department. Before they were working 34 hours a week (officially), but now they were given lunch hours (which they had to pay for themselves) and this justified increasing the official work hours to 37 hours a week. Many employees began to develop nervous disorders. This had no effect on management.

In the memo ordering these changes, management cited past “recalcitrance” by this department, which implied a revenge factor. The message, “Don’t question Big Brother.” They still had to work overtime to meet their goals. Finally Christmas bonuses were reduced. The company had become a tyrannical: it was as if the company were saying, “Don’t complain. Just do as we say or get fired.

Still another client excited took a job for a well-known tech company and then found that it operated like a sweat shop. A salesman, he was required to keep an electronic journal in which he accounted for every hour of his day and several managers would sign off on it. He had to follow a certain formula with regard to selling and had to meet a daily goal. To meet that goal required overtime. As a result he had no joy in his job.

The philosophy of today’s corporations is simple: get all you can out of employees and pay them as little as possible. If possible hire them on a freelance basis so that you don’t have to pay for their benefits.

Of course, this violates nearly all the principles of good management, but such corporations have forsworn the principles of good management long ago, in favor of the immediate gratification of saving money and seeing their employees skip and squirm to the company’s tune. The fact that more and more employees were developing illness such as heart disease and stomach ulcers did not concern them.

There seems to be a human rule: monkey see, monkey do. If other companies are doing it, than it’s all right to do it too. Good management is management that gets quality hours and quality production from workers who are happy. This is lost on many of today’s CEOs. They don’t care if employees are happy.

Are Today’s Companies Becoming Tyrannies?

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.


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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2018). Are Today’s Companies Becoming Tyrannies?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychoanalysis-now/2018/04/are-todays-companies-becoming-tyrannies/

 

Last updated: 8 Apr 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Apr 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.