In the last post we looked at job demand and preference distribution for senior management roles using the following graphics:
The first graphic from the Types of Work Profile research represents the perceived job demand for senior roles in organizations. The second represents the preference distribution for senior managers that have completed the TMP.
As noted in the last post, I think context has a large influence in the development of preference yet the above graphics do not seem to strongly illustrate the effect of context.
I asked the question; ‘So is my social construction perspective inaccurate?’
I don’t think so…. The reason I think this is the preference distribution for almost all demographic groups is similar to the one for senior managers above. For example below is the preference distribution for the worldwide sample:
Certainly there are differences, perhaps important differences but when you look at the overall data from the TMP research, there is a marked emphasis to what we call east wheel preferences. The context of work in general seems to push us in this direction.
So what’s going on with the two graphics above relating to senior management?
I think it is quite simple and also quite problematic. I think our roles (including senior management roles) are quite complex and varied and we know it. Yet in terms of what is actually measured, reinforced and valued, it is much more narrow and constrained.
The east wheel functions (Developing, Organizing, Producing) are focused on the shorter term, convergent efforts to create tangible, short term results. Of course these are important. The west wheel functions (Maintaining, Advising, Innovating) are focused on the longer term, divergent efforts of possibility and sustainability. Of course these are important.
We know we need both as the job demand graphic points out but to be more or less blunt about this, we don’t really care about needing both! We do what we are pushed toward, rewarded for and deemed successful for. Producing tangible, short term results. And this push is so insidious it affects the emergence of our preferences!
At this point though, it is very important I think to go back to the original research done by Dick and Charles on the Types of Work Model. That research pointed out that a critical aspect to high performance was finding balance in the performance of the various work functions…… regardless of preference….
So even though we are pushed to that short term focus in organizations, often at the expense of a longer term focus, we can build the capacity to perform those west wheel functions. Hopefully before we are too compromised to actually do that!