Why is Today “#WorldNoResourcesDay” and Why Do Words Matter?
I learned about this the other today via Twitter (hat tip to @agile_memes), but today is “World No Resources Day” (see hashtag #WorldNoResourcesDay). See the small website at http://worldnoresourcesday.com/ and their thoughts on “why should I join in?”
I’m not sure who is behind this. It’s probably not some Communist May Day thing. Maybe it is. Even if it were that, I’d still agree that it’s not cool to dehumanize people by calling them “resources.” I don’t often agree with Communists since they hate Lean (or maybe they’re actually complaining about L.A.M.E. and Taylorism), but I digress.
The one call to action on this day is to remind people not to call people “resources.”
You might say, “Well, it’s just a word.” But, words have meaning and an impact.I support #WorldNoResourcesDay - treat people like people Click To Tweet
Even going back to my college internship days at Ford, I cringed and balked at the dehumanizing terms that would be used for people in the workplace.
These terms include not just “resources” but also “heads” and “warm bodies.” It’s ironic that old school managers sometimes refer to people as “heads” when they’re not engaging peoples heads and brains in the workplace.
“I was just hired for my arms and my back,” said a person at GM once (this person was an hourly employee and UAW member).
I’ve heard some in healthcare that the term “staff” is somewhat dehumanizing. I guess I’ve used that term “staff” and haven’t felt too bad about it.
Toyota calls employees “team members.” Starbucks calls their baristas “partners.” IU Health Goshen Hospital makes a point (starting with their now retired CEO who we interviewed for Healthcare Kaizen) of calling employees “colleagues.” The CEO calling people “colleagues” (as opposed to “subordinates,” an awful term) sends a strong message about how people should treat each other in the workplace.
I think when we use terms that dehumanize people, it’s unfortunately easier to treat them badly or fire them. Maybe that’s why numbers-driven managers use euphamisms.
Instead of having to “fire people” we can “do a RIF”, “make some resources redundant,” or “terminate” them (ugh, there’s a violent term).
It should be painful to fire people. When you’re a business owner or an executive, it’s a burden and a responsibility – and one that should be taken seriously. You’re not just “maximizing shareholder value,” you’re affecting somebody’s life and paycheck. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
What do you think about workplace terms for people? What are terms that you’ve found to be ugly and which are words that are positive? Or is this whole discussion a waste of time? Leave a comment and chime in…
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— I Can Haz Agile? (@agile_memes) April 27, 2015