Slogans in the Workplace

For some reason, many business managers think slogans will make people happier and more productive at work. But wait. Anybody can search the Internet for slogans and then spout them back at work. Does that mean anybody has the capacity to become a brilliant leader? Of course not.

Take this one, for example:  Rough roads lead to greatness. Does hearing that make you a better worker?

Or this: Problems are opportunities in disguise. Does that solve problems? Has spouting that slogan ever solved any problem in the history of mankind? If you are a business leader and a worker is trying to notify you of a problem, and you throw this crap at him, you only prove that you are more interested in words than preventing or solving problems. Shame on you. You should be welcoming workers who give you the facts even if they are unpleasant, not criticizing them. But maybe you are only trying to divert attention to the fact that you are the source of so many problems that your business has.

  • Once we are over this hump, it will be easy going.  The problem with this is that after a few dozen humps have been imposed on you arbitrarily, one after the other, you know damn well there won't be easy going--there will just be another silly hump thrown at you that has no business justification. This type of continual pressure is a well known tactic in the "hold the tension" game which destroys so much worker productivity and reduces business profits. Let's call these "humps" what they are. They are obstacles to productivity. And no, they are not "opportunities in disguise." They are bad things. A good boss eliminates obstacles, instead of creating them.
  • Be a Quality Worker. Duh, I never would have thought of that!  See this article.
Take a look at this long list of workplace safety slogans. People do not spend a majority of their waking life at work so they can be inspired by silliness. People work so they can go home and enjoy the money they make at work.

Some people get so caught up in the slogan business they spend time looking for slogans rather than time actually improving the workplace. An example, which has some very good sarcastic replies.

A famous expert on work, W. Edwards Deming, said this in his short list of process improvements:

Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets asking for zero defects or new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
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Notice the key to Deming's statement. He makes clear that it's the system of work, and not the slogan that matters. Unfortunately, many business managers fail to realize this, including the leader I once had and I refer to elsewhere. I once went to that former boss to alert him about a problem that was developing. He stopped me and said, "No, remember, it's not a problem, it's an opportunity." There we were, with me trying to convey important information (about a very big problem), he took the discussion away from addressing an issue that could have had serious consequences for the organization, and turned it into a discussion about what word to use to describe it.

In the same category as slogans are those ludicrous inspirational posters that you can buy and hang up all around the office.

If you are one of those who has to sing inspirational songs at work, I pity you.