Barclays was dysfunctional, but our government has the same goals, styles and policies, and that’s really worrying

Posted on

I have just begun to dip into the Salz report on Barclays' investment banking division. I will not pretend to have read it all, but a paragraph (I've split it for ease of reading) just jumped out, talking about the role of employees, and their silence in the Barclays structure. It says:

Having a voice at work and exercising that voice points to a natural human need to be able  to be in control of our own destiny. Intrinsic motivation for work comes from this. Exercising individual and — where necessary — collective voice is important in escalating issues of concerns about leaders and cultural norms that abuse the moral compass of the  organisation.

It is also important in selecting leaders who demonstrate the qualities of humility, care, and respect for others over those of self-interest and status building.

In their book Selected Vugt and Ahuja describe employee voice as one of the key STOPS (Strategies To Overcome the Powerful) for keeping over-bearing leaders in check.

Functioning organisations need employees, not just those in leadership positions, to have and to exercise voice.

Organisations in which the employee voice is silent have much to be concerned about. Silence signifies disengagement or, worse still, fear of becoming engaged.

Of course that is written in the context of a wholly dysfunctional organisation that empowered a few and denied a voice to the rest.

But then I realised that is the same management style that is used by this government. You'd change a word or two to relate it to the Cameron / Osborne approach, but really not much.

And that's really worrying.