For a while things seemed to be going from bad to worse at Grangemouth. Depending on who you believe or what you read, there were various parties to blame. However truth is rarely black and white. Perhaps there is also another way of analysing the situation which has lessons for companies across the globe.
I look at Grangemouth and I see a classic ‘them and us’ culture. The question is where does this culture come from? Often this sort of culture is entrenched in the organisation but it comes from a set of unhealthy assumptions that will have existed for a long time.
If we look at the social science research about human motivation and productivity at work - how much is really achievable in a command and control structure? Whether you like it or not, if you insist on putting in layers of ‘management’, you are putting in place controls which stifle empowerment and extend your communication lines – they ultimately make people remote from the company.
Why do we empower? So we can raise human productivity but to do so properly we have to believe that people are inherently trustworthy individuals who can manage themselves. We have to start treating people like adults and sometimes the adults need to accept they’re adults too. We need to get away from this ‘carrot and stick’ (reward and punishment) approach to work because as Dan Pink tells us, there is no greater amount of research built up over the course of decades to show it just doesn’t work.