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Every day at work should not be a struggle

You may have heard about the demonstrations in France to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Say what you will about the French, but they can express their dissatisfaction.

Battle, every day

I heard on the radio in a report on this subject that the argument was made that the pension is a carrot and reward for putting up with working. I write “endured” because it was stated in the report that France is very hierarchical and it is common for managers to bully their employees.

Employees are expected to stay in the workplace for a long time during the day just because their manager is there, probably because the next level manager is also there for a long time, and so on. Managers are described as pennalistic, punishing their employees and subjecting them to abusive treatment.


Please note that I deliberately only write “employees” and not “co-workers”. Because the word “staff” gives me, at least, the feeling that we work together, not just at the same time.

You can’t have that, I say. It is unreasonable to see working life as a struggle to be “endured” for 40 years and then rewarded with a pension.

Must provide energy

We need to make sure that performing value creation in your business is fun, enthusiastic, inspiring and rewarding. We need to do this together, in groups, with common goals and with a focus on the people we serve.

All this regardless of the work we do. Everyone has an important role to play in creating and delivering value to the customer, whatever you call it in your business. It is only together that we will be able to achieve collective, and individual, success.

Individual success at the expense of the group is only short-term.

These individuals’ success comes at a price, such as being disliked. However, as you have probably seen, this does not mean anything to some people.

The right focus is a must

As a leader, it is important to create a safe and inclusive working environment. This is where concepts such as self-managing teams and learning organizations come in. This is what I teach in our training courses.

If you focus on your value-creating flows, i.e. your projects and processes, it will be much easier to create this desirable working environment. As a project and process manager, you have every opportunity in the world to involve and include employees.

That is why these roles are given the right conditions to be able to do the work of being good leaders. They need both knowledge of how to practically manage a project or a process, as well as knowledge of how to manage people.

Not taking a position on the retirement age in France, but I think the really important issue to express dissatisfaction with should be the poor working environment.

That is where the cause of the current situation lies, and it is the right thing to do to make people feel better.

Whether it’s Sweden or France, this week’s conclusion is a call to action: make sure that your and your employees’ time “at work” is not a struggle, but something that brings energy and joy. The joy of being part of creating great value for the people you serve.