Magazine article Management Today

MTletters

Magazine article Management Today

MTletters

Article excerpt

PERILS AND DELIGHTS

I would like to assure Winston Fletcher ('The Portfolio Life', MT January), that I have indeed lived a portfolio life for the past 20 years. I describe the experience in my forthcoming book, The Elephant and the Flea. He describes very well the perils and delights of that life, and I agree that it would indeed be 'codswallop' to imagine that everyone could live that way and still run organisations.

That was not, however, what I forecast in 1989 in The Age of Reason, the book he mentions. There would always, I said, be a core of full-time employees in any organisation, but more and more people would find themselves leading a portfolio life after they reached 50.

I also predicted that by the year 2000, less than half the workforce would be employed full-time in those cores. In fact, last year, only 40% of the workforce was on traditional 'indefinite period contracts'. The rest were independent, temporary, part-time or unemployed -- all portfolio people of different sorts. It is a lifestyle more of us will have to get used to.

Charles Handy

author, The Age of Reason

COMPANY ETHICS

MT's Ethics at Work survey (January) graphically illustrates a rapidly changing workplace culture. The fact that a third of managers said they had blown the whistle is especially notable. It confirms what I see -- that whistle-blowing is now seen as a key part of delivering good management. It also signals a shift in the prospects for, and confidence in, self-regulation.

Economics says a competitive market will exist wherever one-third of consumers will actively consider switching suppliers. Where a third of staff are likely to blow the whistle, this will be a powerful deterrent to wrongdoing in the workplace. But the fact that that nearly half of non-whistle-blowers feared alienating their colleagues suggests that many still owe a higher loyalty to peers and managers than to their employer. Firms that leave such confusion unchecked risk a rude awakening.

Guy Dehn

director, Public Concern at Work

The MT/KPMG ethics survey makes interesting reading, not least because there can be no right answer given that its basis lies in personal values. But if the attitudes of those surveyed are reflective of society as a whole, there is cause for concern. …

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