Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Promise Not to Say 'Agency' Again

My father used to say, "Use your own discretion." It never seemed to occur to him that I didn't have any at the ages when I knew him.

I think employers too offer frequent silent prayers that their subordinates will be conscious of, and activated by, the needs of their organisations. Many are utterly thrilled when employees actually anticipate need.

wikipedia says, "In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices." [italics mine] I grimace now to remember times when I've used that term with groups of unemployed or under-employed clients when I'm trying to explain one of the characteristics of a desirable employee. Probably almost no-one outside academic circles uses the term to discuss anything. Why should I have expected my clients to recognise it?

I think a better term might be initiative. Employers want us to show a degree of initiative—without putting the organisation to undue risk. Would I be perverse in suggesting that one of the best exemplars of initiative is Jeeves? Here's one of many instances of his successes in getting Wooster out of trouble.