Karl Marx: A love story

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Karl Marx would have been a great boss. Years of government-sponsored propaganda and some piss-poor examples of Communism have done a lot to smear the bearded one’s name, but to anyone who has actually taken the time to read his ideas, it’s pretty damn obvious that he was looking out for the little guy. His ideal world was not some Soviet Realism painting, but a world where people achieved equality (and maybe a sense of humanity) with the companies that literally owned them. Unfortunately, after Marx died his writings fell in with a bad crowd. But a funny thing happened while we waged a cold war against his philosophy: the market changed. Now, many of the social factors that Marx’s movement were predicated on are coming to pass. We may never reach his Ideal (because it’s just that), but our social and economic movement seems to be toward a more egalitarian arrangement. (Current effects of the looming RECESSION notwithstanding).

Okay, so you’ve long ago asked yourself, What’s with the philosohistory lesson, man? Well, I read Guy Kawasaki’s “10 Best Things About LinkedIn”article today. It was posted on LinkedIn as recommended reading, and since I do EVERYTHING LinkedIn tells me too, I read it. Then I went to his blog and read an even better one, titled “LinkedIn and the Art of Avoiding an Asshole Boss.” In it, Guy suggests using LinkedIn to “check your prospective boss’s references just like she’s checking out yours.” Good advice. And a movement towards an equal relationship, at least at the candidate stage. Karl Marx would have been proud.

Let’s face it, work is a lot like marriage, so equality and respect are muy importante to its continued bliss. After all, your relationship with your boss is a lot like your relationship with your spouse. Hell, if you work in an office, you spend as much time or more with her (I’ll pick Guy’s gender choice for this post) than you do with your “real” spouse. The terms “work wife” and “work husband” really do mean something.

In terms of checking the prospective spouseness of your future boss, I would go a step farther than Guy’s article (as I’m wont to do) and suggest that we aim for a time when you the candidate will be doing “work trials” at jobs you’re considering. Consider it dating.

Progressive companies have to see that the current clumsy and convoluted process does a major disservice to both business and employee. I read a comment recently where the author, a Director of IT, claimed that even though he worked the position of Widget Maker for 15 years and therefore knew exactly what the ideal candidate looked like, when he made a hiring decision he was still right only 50% of the time. Okay, that’s worse than clumsy, that’s crap; it really means that the entire process is effectively useless. Just flip a coin. It’ll save you days of preparation, agonizing, and paperwork and the results are effectively the same. Time for a logical syllogism kids:

  • The only way to know someone’s a fit as an employee is to actually work with her
  • The current clumsy and convoluted process does not include a work trial
  • Therefore, the current clumsy and convoluted process should be blown up, preferably on that show, Smash Lab; maybe then some good would come of it.

The idea of a work trial would fit perfectly with the New Recruitment mindset that values building and maintaining pipelines, active networks, and passive sourcing. If such conditions were present in a company, the manager and the candidate could meet and chat on an informal basis, develop a relationship, and then see where things go from there. What better way for both manager and managee to know if they’re going to become long-term Work Spouses or if a divorce is just around the corner?

Oh, and this does NOT mean I have a thing for Karl Marx. He’s cute, but he’s no Work Husband. I’m more of a Nietzsche type.

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