Often times people – and employers – confuse “Teamwork” and “Loyalty” for Subjugation.

The problem with going along with being told what to do – or what to think….  how you SHOULD jump through the hoop is that it demoralizes you. 

And it makes you a smaller person …  inside.  You will be demoralized because you know that you shouldn’t have done that.   And you know, at some level, that you will feel badly about yourself for having done it.  You will feel regret. 

You will feel cowardly.   And it will affect your life in other ways. 

That’s what totalitarian movements throughout history always knew .  That, if you grind people down, and make them agree to lies – you will be able to get them to do anything. 

In the communist era in Eastern Europe, the Czech leaders who made the Prague green grocers put a notice in their window “Workers of the World Unite.”   It was sent from party headquarters to all grocers.  YOU HAVE TO HANG IT.

A number of things happened

  1. The grocer showed that he was a party loyalist.  Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to operate.
  2. The sign hung there, every day, where the grocer could see it – as a reminder of his subjugation.

It reminds him that he is not the man that he could be.   One of the results of this is that he ends up hating the people who make him hang the sign.   Because they have demoralized him.  

The point is:  you think you are doing this little thing (hanging a sign), but you are not.  You are diminishing your soul.   Because you know that you could be something more than this person who just does whatever party headquarters wants you do to this week.

Hearing this immediately sent my head spinning.   I just kept thinking about all of the things I have seen in my career, done under the name of “teamwork”, “loyalty”, or “company culture.”   Or the good ol’ fashioned “being one of us.”

When you are an employer, and you are trying to get your employees to act a certain way, take a minute to see what you are REALLY asking for.   Are you asking for “buy in” or are you asking for “subjugation.”

Subjugation: the act, fact, or process of subjugating, or bringing under control; enslavement
Teamwork: working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit.

See the difference?

I think too many times, employers use the guise of “Company Culture” to try to dictate how to act.   They want people to act like they want them to act.

It doesn’t matter if we – as employers – are actually living up to our end. It doesn’t matter if we don’t run the company according to the culture – YOU ARE TO ACT AS IF.

It doesn’t matter if we have given you reason to feel warm and fuzzy about the company – you are to act like you love it here.    Subjugation.

The company’s defense:   As long as they can point out another place worse – you should be happy and get along with subjugation.

The problem is that you are breaking the spirit of the employee.    Hopefully you don’t just want your people for their bodies to be in your space for a specific period of time.   Great companies hire people because they want their skills and they want their passion.

Meanwhile, we demand subjugation and kill their spirit.  Demoralize them.

Regardless of how people act in meetings, the company culture IS how people feel.    Wouldn’t it be better to actually measure the temperature of the water, instead of setting the temperature?

There needs to be more effort in our businesses and teams to see how people REALLY feel.   Then find the drivers to improve that.   What are the real KPI’s of happiness?

The analogy I used this week is a good example.   It’s a lot easier to work long hours and get stuff done, if you are working on things that are clearly productive.   If you are forced to do things incorrectly, and hour can seem like 3.

Even if the total amount of time worked, and the amount paid is the same, the day will be happier and productive if working well and toward a noble cause.    I believe my example was, “It’s a lot easier to work 12 hours a day building a beautiful building than just moving bricks from side to the other for no reason.”   Just because “the boss wants it that way” is not a good enough reason.

It’s subjugation.   It’s demoralization.

Under both scenarios, you spend 12 hours work.   Moving bricks.  What do you care – you get paid the same?   “I’m the boss and this is what I want.”

It is different.   It…..just……is.

Of course there are going to be times where everyone is under a crunch and people need to just do something to get it done.   We can explain later.

But day after day of doing it “because I said so”.   Or worse – “because that’s how we do it”  – is subjugation and demoralization.

It robs the spirit and ruins what you want from your best people.

When you need things done, bring your people into the mix and explain the why.   That way you get teamwork and gain loyalty – instead of barking orders and demanding their actions and feelings about it.   You will get the work, the action, and the love.   All for the same pay.

~ Blue part is from Joe Rogan Experience Episode #1538 with Douglas Murray




Bonus Nugget from Murray:   “I don’t care about what people I don’t care about think.   My own opinions are enough for me.”