Editorial: Are We Just Tools?
- Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, November 13, 2023
This editorial is the opinion of the author and doesn't necessarily represent the views of eRep or its clients.
The ultimate goal of capitalism, at its very essence, is competition. It is a competition where different organizations and people strive to obtain resources, including power and influence, faster and in larger quantities than others who are seeking the same thing. How does this competition end? How do you win at capitalism?
There can be only one.
The winner of capitalism — and the ultimate end for the whole game — will achieve a state where all the power, influence and money belongs to only one and there is no more competition.
What does it require for this to happen?
In the game of capitalism, businesses use various tools and resources to accomplish their goals. These tools can include computers and technology, vehicles and other forms of transport, or machines that make products (or other machines). The one tool or resource that all businesses use to one degree or another are people.
Without people, businesses would not exist.
People provide labor and knowledge and innovation. The individual people within an organization can change over time, sometimes rapidly and repeatedly, but ultimately every person from top to bottom within a business — every employee, every partner, every leader — is there for one thing: just like a tool, it's all about the service they provide.
Some companies, such as eRep, exist to help other companies be more efficient and more effective at the activities they undertake in the course of their operation. Essentially we help them be more competitive. (We also help people become more authentic versions of themselves.)
We don't help them obtain faster computers or quicker manufacturing equipment. The tools we help them obtain are more efficient and more effective people by helping them find those people who are psychometrically aligned with the needs of their role.
Fortunately, the specific way eRep helps companies find more efficient and effective people provides even greater benefits to those people themselves. They find opportunities where their preferred and ideal way of operating within the world is aligned with the needs of the role they fill.
Our ability to make our clients more successful occurs when this match between the individual's psychological potential aligns with the role where that psychological profile is most needed.
Success is achieved when preparation meets opportunity.
Computers aren't people (yet). Vehicles and manufacturing equipment aren't people. Web sites and mobile apps aren't people. They don't have opinions or preferences or emotions.
People do have emotions, however. People have opinions and preferences and motivations and fears. Every person has a specific lens through which they see the world and prefer to operate within it. They have preferences for the kind of activities that make them happy and feel fulfilled.
There is huge potential in that.
People have something we call heart. Heart is the desire that drives us to seek a state of what the Japanese call "ikigai" — a reason for being. It is this state where one reaches their fullest level of professional and personal happiness.
But are people merely tools? Are human beings a resource to be classified, acquired, optimized, and then replaced when a more efficient or effective tool becomes available as if heart doesn't matter?
Some think so.
From a purely capitalistic perspective, people are tools or resources that are classified, acquired, optimized and then replaced with something better to suit the needs of the organization (and that need always comes down to higher competitiveness).
Can a business operating according to the rules-as-written of capitalism have a state of heart?
This question matters, and it manifests in the way organizations and the people that work there come together.
In several respects, the employee-employer relationship shares a lot of similarities to dating.
In dating, each person identifies the kind of person they're looking for. What are their traits? What do they like or don't like? What are their qualifications and characteristics such as location, education, religious beliefs, politics, or the most important thing to determine, whether or not they put pineapple on their pizza?
They use available mechanisms like dating apps, social media web sites, or even soft mechanisms like blind dates (aka personal referrals) and hanging out in bars.
Both sides identify what they're looking for, such as education, location, skills and experience. They use available mechanisms like job boards, or soft mechanisms like recruiters and personal referrals or hanging out at job fairs (does anyone still do that anymore?)
The two parties meet up and an evaluation process ensues. Each side measures the other and asks specific questions. A decision is made and a connection happens. The hire is done and the relationship begins.
From that point forward, though, motivations diverge. There are some big differences, but some similarities, too. One has psychology at play while the other has practicality driving their decisions.
The worker wants a job they love while being able to pay the bills.
Studies have shown that engagement and praise can be more powerful motivators than money when it comes to worker happiness (assuming they are paid fairly and can make enough to pay the rent, of course).
The company wants the most performance possible out of the worker at the lowest possible cost — or at no cost at all. Many companies are looking at AI and other non-human tools to do the same job without the psychological baggage. For the organization, it's purely practical.
It's just business. Or is it?
Can these two sides ever see their relationship from the same perspective? Can employer and employee share the same values and motivation for why their relationship exists — and why their relationship should continue?
If you ever come across a company that spends a lot of time shouting to the world that they are an organization with heart, read between the lines. Find the motivation behind it. Don't be surprised if these companies read an article that showed engaged and happy workers are more profitable (true). But instead of genuinely engaging — appreciating — their workers, they publicly pay the concept of engagement hollow lip service without any lasting meat behind it.
("Lasting meat." That will stick in your head a while. My apologies.)
Diversity and inclusion matters. Companies with more diverse and inclusive teams — from the C-Suite on down — are more profitable.
Instead, look for businesses where their heart and their relationship with their workers is genuine and mutual. These organizations don't feel the need to brag about it. The signs are obvious: their turnover is practically zero, their workers aren't holding down second or third jobs to keep from having to sleep in their car, and the CEO isn't compensated orders of magnitude more than the median wage.
They also bring in at least one pizza with pineapple on it during company parties.
Where is the heart in your employment relationship?
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.
Share This Article
Employer Account Sign-up
Sign up for an employer account and get these features and functions right away:
- Unlimited Job Listings on eRep.com
- Applicant Search
- Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
- Unlimited Happiness Index employee surveys
- 3 full/comprehensive CVIs™
- No credit card required — no long-term commitment — cancel at any time
Write for eRep
Are you interested in writing for eRep? Read our submission guidelines.