Power Distance and a Repeating Refrain of Kumbaya
What is the power distance at your organization? At one time the universally accepted workplace culture had power concentrated among a few. The ruling elite set the rules, policies, direction and made all relevant decisions within their closed circle. The distance between those with the power and the rank-&-file was wide, separated by at-the-door reserved parking spots, private dining chambers, and special rules just for them, along with a company car full of perks.
The shift that has grasped both the corporate and nonprofit sectors is toward a more low-power-distance culture. No longer do separate and definitely grossly unequal rules rule the American workplace. Workers are now team members and the C-Level suite is open, accessible and accountable to all.
Human resources have evolved into counseling centers, wellness program directors and internal organizational cheerleaders. Gone are vacation and sick days replaced with “personal time off” and 9 to 5 has been pushed aside for flex-time.
The suggestion box has been replaced with improvement committees comprised of a cross-section of the organizational chart.
And speaking of, organizational charts today look more like complex mathematical equations with both solid and dotted lines going in every direction.
American productivity ranks third behind Germany and France. The Germans are known for their autocratic corporate culture and the French for their laid-back attitude towards everything. Especially work. So, then what does it say about we Americans and our new business theme song, the old fireside camping standard, Kumbaya?