Psychological Contract or Covenant: The Coaching Challenges

William Bergquist July 1, 2016 1
Psychological Contract or Covenant: The Coaching Challenges

Csikszentmihalyi further suggests that most of us, whether we are in self-satisfying jobs or not, spend most of our life looking for and attempting to replicate settings in which we find these self-satisfying (flow) experiences. We may do our boring job in order to obtain the money to perform our autotelic work (gardening, rock-climbing, dancing) — in which case, the psychological contract is still an appropriate concept. Yet, even in this situation, we would be foolish to cease our search for ways in which the worker will find his or her current job autotelic rather than just a means to finding autotelic experiences in other settings.

A recent survey of employee needs at a high tech firm in the San Francisco Bay Area revealed that the number one training need was in the area of rock climbing. Number two was woodwork. Several years before, employees suggested that knowledge about new scientific developments in their field is of highest priority. This no longer seems important. Has the work in this company become less autotelic — such that workers are looking elsewhere (rock climbing, woodwork) for their gratification? Is it just because the employees are now older and less enthralled with their new technologies or has the company lost some essential drawing power?

The leader of another high tech firm speaks of the currency of his company as “title and money; the only thing we seem to value. The number of people reporting to us is [our] measure of success.” The challenge for the leaders of the first high tech firm is to find ways to reclaim the interests of their employees and to identify future problems and projects that will be as inherently interesting and gratifying as rock-climbing and woodwork. The leader of the second high tech firm must find something that will excite his employees other than position or salary. The employees in both of these organizations do not need a new psychological contract. They need more interesting work. Such a notion about work and about the motivation to work will lead contemporary organizations from the modern perspective to a post-modern perspective that is revolutionary in nature.

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One Comment »

  1. Rey Carr July 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    It would seem that the more articulated, visible, and transparent the covenant can become, the greater the satisfaction the parties to the agreement will experience? I hesitate to say it, but is it a coach’s job to make the unconscious elements of the covenant more conscious for both the employee and the organization?

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