Although some of the examples used are a bit dated, the insights and conclusions about what makes a good or bad employers are still valid. This is a well-written book that shows how some employers actively strive to generate trust between the company and employees. If you don't like the company for which you work, this book will illustrate some of the practices of companies that truly value employees as their most important resource instead of just paying lip service.
This book was published 20 years ago which makes it very special. The perspective is from the point view of the workers on their leaders; that is from the workplace. From the workplace point of view the author describes three types of management: scientific management, manipulative management and management in the 100 companies that are "Great Places to Work". According to the author Scientific Management is represented by Frederick Winslow Taylor, Lillian Gilbreth and Harold.B. Maynard. They believed that work should be studied by engineers such that workers could be told exactly how they should work in great detail and how long every task should take. In that way output could be defined precisely. Henry Ford was an early enthusiast andalso GE. The only motivation necessary was paying more for more output-"piecework". Apart from the incentive workers were considered like robots, like material resources.. The demarcation between management and workers was very strict. Management decides everything and workers obey. Having worked for Harald.B. Maynard this description is partially correct. It is true on the motivation side. One of the key points in the book is that a worker knows more about his job than anybody else. That is true. But that is also true of engineers looking at the job from another perspective. They know much more about new tooling, new systems, feasible changes in product design, and innovation. The different types of knowledge have to be combined in a collaborative effort as is done in modern industrial engineering. Manipulative styles are represented by Elton Mayo, Peter Drucker and Tom Peters. The author thinks that all these management methods aimed to maximise profit for the owners, but giving to the workers the impression management was genuinely interested in their well being. The author makes some valid observations definitely worth reading, but is not complete. A lot was manipulative but not everything. The author suggests as an alternative that management should be genuinely interested in creating happy workplaces. It is impossible to establish a relationship of trust between the workers and management when workers suspect that management is only interested in increasing profit. The author also presents several credible studies that prove that companies with employees that are enthusiastically working for realising the goals of the company produce substantially higher profit and growth performance. Studies made by Tower Perrin in 2007 show similar results. Still to day Fortune and other magazines present every year the 100 best workplaces in different countries and industries, still based on the ideas in this book.This is a remarkable success. The book is very much concentrating on "work places" inside the company. This is an integral part of the "stakeholder" concept, referred to as "Corporate Citizen ship", or "Corporate Social Responsibility" In these concepts trust is essential not only between employees and management but also between the company and customers and other groups is society at large. The history of professional managers in "The rise and corruption of the managerial class" presents an intriguing analysis. Before shareholder activism, private equity and optimising shareholder values, top management was paid reasonably. The singular emphasis on shareholder value, according to the author, has led to compensation of professional managers as if they were entrepreneurs (and bad workplaces).