Thriving Under Fire Blog

Unhelpful workplace relationships — the Parent–Child dynamic

Posted by John Faisandier on Mar 23, 2014 6:23:34 PM

In their book Authentic Conversations, Jamie Showkeir , Maren Showkeir and Margaret J Wheatley focus on the way workplace relationships set up a Parent–Child dynamic. The manager or supervisor is cast in the position of the parent — taking responsibility for everything that happens, including employee happiness, security, and success.
The employee is cast in the position of the child — dependant on the manager for approval, for security, and for happiness at work. In their lives outside of work, these same people own and manage properties, raise families, run clubs and otherwise take full responsibility for themselves, but at work that doesn’t seem to count for much.

This relationship system is deeply rooted in our working life and has it’s origins in the industrial revolution where the worker was seen as an extension of the machinery in the factory which needed to be looked after and manipulated.

The challenge today is that we create work places where managers, staff, and customers relate to one another on an Adult–Adult basis. All of us have power and all can engage with one another authentically. Do you see this dynamic in your work place? Share your story.

First posted by John Faisandier on 30th March, 2011

Topics: Conversations, Difficult Conversations, Difficult Internal Customers, Ego States, Relationships

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