#023 – Blue Pill Brokenness – Work As Usual – Unhealthy Relationships

A fourth key aspect (in addition to Idol and Identity, Money and Power and Burden) of toxic “work as usual” that leads to “work” becoming something far from God’s design in Genesis is that work as usual is characterized by Unhealthy Relationships, rather than life-giving community and connection.

Remember, “work as usual” problems and “business as usual” problems feed each other.  When business as usual is characterized by (1) Scarcity-based and Self-Interest-based behavior (2) in a hierarchical pyramid of (3) people who have all been reduced to tools of production (4) being motivated/manipulated by those above them and motivating/manipulating those around them (5) in order to ensure their personal success/survival (6) in a culture designed around Profit as Purpose (that’s a mouthful!), is it any wonder that work as usual breeds Unhealthy Relationships?  People are not really a “team” working together–they are individuals pursuing Self-Interest in a culture that creates internal competition for Scarce resources and rewards winning.

  • In his book Why Business Matters to God, Jeff Van Duzer observes: “Office politics, malicious gossip, behind-the-back criticisms, cliques, truth “spinning,” destructive personal ambitions, free-riding, domineering behavior, sexism, racism, jealousy, self-promotion—these are all common features of today’s corporate environments.
  • In his book Connection Culture, Mike Stallard identifies two type of toxic work cultures–cultures of control and cultures of indifference:  
    • In cultures of control, “Employees may feel left out, micromanaged, unsafe, hyper-criticized, or helpless.”
    • In cultures of indifference, which Stallard says are “predominant today”, “People are so busy chasing money, power, and status that they fail to invest the time necessary to develop healthy, supportive relationships. As a result, leaders don’t see value in the relational nature of work, and many people struggle with loneliness. Employees may feel like a cog in a machine, unimportant, uncertain, or invisible.”

Gallup has concluded that:

  • Managers account for 70% of the variance in worker engagement.
  • Businesses pick the wrong managers 82% of the time.
  • Untalented managers compensate with manipulation and politics.
  • CEO’s actually tend to have the lowest EQ in an organization.

We have tuned our companies into relentlessly effective economic engines with the solitary aim of accumulating wealth through value creation. For that reason, over the years, wholesale exploitation and inhumane behaviors of all sorts could simply be qualified as ``good business`` … as long as the profits kept arriving. (Chris Houston)

You may say “Oh come on–this sounds extreme–very few organizations would actually allow this to happen.”  But we suspect very few (if any) businesses would want only 10% of their workers effectively mobilized and flourishing, with bad managers accounting for 70% of worker disengagement–but that is the reality.  Human relationships do not flourish when:

  • People recognize that the most important “WHY” driving the organization is ultimately profit.
  • People feel like they are just a means to that end–a replaceable cog in the machine.
  • Those relationships are hierarchical, adversarial and competitive, with management structures creating “WE/THEM” relationships and management techniques pitting people against each other (consider what is happening during Coronavirus sheltering–does anybody really think healthy work relationships are promoted by apps sending managers a screenshot of people’s computers every 10 minutes to be sure they are working?).


At Integrous, we believe there is a better way–business a better way–and we call it Integriosity®,.  It is about Biblical alignment and living (not just giving) generously, and the WHY of human flourishing is at the core.

SPOILER ALERT:  Integriosity starts with RENEW–embracing a different understanding of the WHAT, WHO, WHY, HOW and WHEN of faith/work integration.  We call it the “five key mind-shifts“.

PERSONAL FOOTNOTE (from PM):  I experienced the effect of a “WE/THEM” culture most acutely when I was elected a partner in a large law firm.  Immediately (even before I moved into the big office), I became one of “THEM” to the associates who had been my colleagues in the trenches and one of “US” to the partners who had been my “THEM”s for several years.  Conversations changed noticeably on both sides of the divide.  I knew it was happening–I didn’t want it to happen–it happened anyway.

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