Command and control still rules everyone, it’s alive and thriving, and HR is at the heart of it. Possibly unwillingly, but still….
The Bradford Factor is living proof of command and control. It’s a great way to get sickness down; there is plenty of evidence to support this. Fact.
Prediction; future research will make a correlation between rigorous application of the BF rules, 4 strikes etc, and a decrease in what we’re currently calling engagement. I call it trust. If I don’t trust you; I will deliberately and subconsciously withhold myself from you.
Wiki says rather well:
“One party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee); the situation is directed to the future. In addition, the trustor (voluntarily or forcedly) abandons control over the actions performed by the trustee. As a consequence, the trustor is uncertain about the outcome of the other’s actions; he can only develop and evaluate expectations. The uncertainty involves the risk of failure or harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave as desired.”
At a base level, “management” are saying “we do not trust staff” when deploying types of controls like the Bradford Factor. If a manager does not trust his or her staff, then guess what they’ll get back? Distrust.
I managed teams for many years and one thing I know; if someone wants to abuse a system, they will find a way to do it. You can belt and braces it and you will still have someone who is dissatisfied enough with life, themselves, you, whatever, to want to take advantage and find a way.
But, all the others, the most of us majority, who will willingly give their effort and wouldn’t dream of taking advantage are constrained by the binds that tie them. Their hope, energy, commitment gets squeezed out. Of course they daren’t have a duvet day so your sickness numbers are down – excellent, target achieved (another hackathon subject).
A trusted workforce will not abuse their employer; they will understand why being there matters, who it matters to, and they will see the consequence of any selfish and slightly lazy actions. This will combine to make them care enough about each other, their employer, their customers, to minimise unnecessary time out from the office. And when they’re there? Using myself as an example, I guess when I feel people trust me, I flourish, I feel valued and that I matter. My contribution matters, so I make sure I do things so well. And I always do things well, but when I’m trusted, it opens up other space in me.
I knew when someone had had four Fridays out in a month, or when they were staying in bed when they had a headache, or when they were burned out and I could cut a bit of slack. I believe that some of us will struggle with life from time to time and that we don’t fit into a box and we have to deal with some situations on their own merit.
The defenders of the Bradford Factor will advocate for it on the basis that it’s a management tool to be used to point to potential problem areas, I’m sure. Of course, it’s the managers using it incorrectly, nothing to do with it being another policy to get in between managers and their teams. (Of course, managers are team members too).
What a lot of effort goes into controlling people and trying endlessly to find ways to allocate monetary value to them.
If employees plan together, identify ways monitor their own work and set their own standards, see what happens if you offer trust.