Where Has Compassion Gone?

Where Has Compassion Gone?

As a country, as a tribe, it seems to me that we are systematically squeezing compassion out.
Compassion is where one human being shows care and consideration, often through empathy, with another who may be in trouble. Our command and control style system of management, which comes from and propagates fear and anxiety and dependency, squeezes out our natural inclination to help others.
We see this everywhere.
Our nurses are so over worked, and underpaid, that they have no time to sit with a patient. Our doctors are measured and paid (and controlled) by every prescription they deliver, and then squeezed so that they have to deliver in such short time that the ‘service’ becomes a mechanical delivery mechanism. Our teachers have to suffer the indignity and stress of an Ofsted checkup because we cannot trust them to do the job. A teachers care for her students is squeezed out by the pressure to perform according to measures that take no account of emotions and sentiments…..it is all about delivering results.
You could say the same for the prison service where compassion could help to reduce reoffending, but any care in the system is usually squeezed out by box ticking and metrics and probably the need to punish, which results in the vast majority reoffending so that the system is self-perpetuating…..and who knows, perhaps that is an objective for some people.
It is sad to watch the demise of our greatest institutions.
Of course this happens in businesses as well. Some call it ‘death by management’. Some have said ‘never let an accountant run a business’. When it becomes about cost control, maximising profit, maximising shareholders return, short-termism, control, and hierarchy which allows one person to feel that it is acceptable to ‘put down’ another, then you will notice compassion being squeezed out.
Despite all of this there are plenty of people who care. They just do, despite all of the knocks and set-backs, despite the put-downs, and the telling-offs, despite their inability to rise in the hierarchy. They care, and generally we notice as well. We notice that they care, but we do not notice the lack of support they get in the workplace.
The only way of sorting this out is a fundamental shift in the way we treat people at work. A shift from control to trust. The best companies and the best public sector organisations will be the ones who are striving for this. The catch of course is that this can only work if it comes from the top…..and how many at the top of a hierarchy really have the understanding and the knowledge or experience to make this change happen.
I do believe that things are changing. Not from the large bureaucratic organisations, or the corporates. No, change is coming from the small businesses, the micros. Good people leave the ‘command and control’ system and set up on their own because they value their independence. And as they grow their companies they will want the same for their employees, and in doing so they will attract good people, and they will trust them and not measure them or control them, and they will become profitable. When these businesses become financially secure, financially independent, then they will ead the way.

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