Why don’t we care? Forget about big things that we perceive as way beyond our control like war, world hunger, poverty, disease, loss of freedom. Forget about Vladimir Putin and what is going on in many countries like Pakistan, Sudan, North Korea, Iran and Syria. They don’t seem to affect us on a daily basis, so why worry about them?
But why don’t we care about who we elect to represent us in government? Do we really mean to elect folks who intend to do us harm? Who take food stamps from the needy? Cut Medicaid from those who can’t afford doctors? Who don’t really seem to care about education? Who just want to feather their own nests? Who focus on issues that are a distraction to what is going on in the world-our world?
Why don’t we care that large multi-nationals, many of which are held up as shining examples, are breaking the law day in and day out, manipulating the economy for their own ends and sticking it to us? I am asking because I really want to know. Why don’t we care? We care if our local sports team is playing poorly- we demand change- change of management, change of players-something, anything. Why don’t we care about the important things?
Why do we tolerate a totally inefficient, relatively ineffective and very expensive health care system, one that doesn’t allow doctors to truly practice medicine? One that is run more by third party payers than health care providers? One that with all of its technology and fabulous doctors doesn’t produce better outcomes than many countries? Why don’t we care?
Public companies are run for the benefit of the owners, the shareholders. The charge for leadership is to find a way to get them the best return on their investment. Many cannot do so and still provide good quality and good service at a fair price for their customers. But they get multi-million dollar salaries and stock options and golden parachutes while teachers and social workers make so little. Why don’t we care?
Why don’t organizations want to be the best that they can be? Is it too hard? Not worth the effort? Is it because nobody demands that of them? So many companies and individuals function at a sub-optimal level and it is okay with everyone. Walk into ten retail stores and track the level of service and interest you get from employees. And ask, why don’t they care? Why don’t the owners care? What are they saying to their customers by not caring? You are not important.
Employee engagement studies by Towers Perrin and Deloitte show that upwards of 70% of workers are not engaged in their jobs. This occurs because leaders don’t care enough to do the extra work to engage them. And it may not even be extra- it may just be different work. Those same studies show that engaged employees lead to higher profits for their company. Why don’t leaders care enough to get their team excited about their work?
Maybe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is playing out in society at large and everybody is so focused on satisfying their basic needs that they cannot look outside of them. Is that a possible explanation? Maybe this is one of those rare cases where blame flows uphill rather than downhill. If those at the bottom don’t show they care, those above them have no reason to change their behavior, and so on and upward all the way to national and global political, social and business leaders. If we don’t care, why should they? Why should we assume that they care for us or instead of us?
This is not meant as a diatribe or a call to unionize or any such thing. It is meant to ask a serious question. Why don’t we care?