November 21, 2019

though employees’ willingness to show their true feelings is

though still quite controversial, is widely used by 21st century multinationals. For example, last year, around 90% of Fortune 500 companies turned to this method to evaluate employees. As in Mae’s experience, this mechanism, which includes feedback from colleagues, subordinates, outside clients, along with the assessment of the direct superior, is a unique method by which most employees in the human resources can be analysed. Yet, as any evaluation tool, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Organized companies can use the data collected in the feedback assessment to monitor the weaker areas of their employees and will, therefore, develop specific training programs targeted at this lack of competence. This occurred in Egger’s novel, when Mae’s direct boss in Customer Experience, Dan, a strong believer in the social environment of the Circle, expressed his disappointment regarding Mae’s lack off in-person and online social activity, during her early days as an employee at the company.

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Furthermore, the 360 degree feedback mechanism helps the staff members see how their work is perceived by those they work with, and not just by their managers. Some employees feel disturbed by the criticism of straight forward supervisors. Feedback from colleagues and business partners gives them the opportunity to understand their position within their community and what needs to change or improve in their behaviours. (Eg: The 3% that did not find Mae awesome)

On the negative side, human resources specialists argue that the most common disadvantage of this method is that employees may not feel comfortable providing real feedback, not only to superior, but also to their colleagues. Without keeping anonymity, employees’ willingness to show their true feelings is minimal. Another major challenge of this evaluation method is that feedback may be subjective, therefore ratings sometimes surfacing as being distinct. Moreover, leaders observe certain features in a different manner than employees do when evaluating each other.

At the same time, the outside clients, with whom the employees work, provides the most important wave of thoughts, arguments and criticism, that companies need to assimilate. I agree with Sam Wulton, founder of the Wal-Mart brand, when arguing that: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”. (Ortega B. 1999) Jeff Bezos, the founder of the famous online company Amazon, which is said to be the most consumer-oriented company, often reminds employees to be obsessed with the client by waking up every morning terrified, not of the competition, but of Amazon’s own customers. That’s why The Circle is portrayed as being always concerned with the CE overall aggregate scores, emphasizing on satisfying all of their customers.

Understanding Human resources involves three distinct activities: behavioural assessment, assessment of potential and development capacity and evaluation of achieved performance. Evaluation can be approached in various forms, by managers located on different levels of the organizational hierarchy, direct subordinates, peers in equal positions, external experts, joint assessment committees or the employee himself. Not all evaluations have a positive effect, some being considered the most despised activities, for a good reason. When they are used for staff discipline, gratification, job reduction, assessments are perceived by employees with fear and can lead to insecurities in the working sector. The evaluation of human resource performance should not be limited to measuring previous efficiency, but rather expand by estimating future performance.

It can be considered (John Krumboltz) that the life of an individual is, among other things, a succession of learning stages that lead to the formation of a set of representations. Older experiences are a factor of lasting influence in the orientation of subsequent behaviours. This suggests that life is built on past lessons, that are applied almost automatically in interpreting current experiences. The deterministic and scientific conception of orientation, which consists in discovering/revealing the ‘student’s’ innate skills, destined for a certain work environment(‘the right man in the right place’), is overcomed and abandoned nowadays. It was replaced by an educational concept, according to which young figures must be formatted in order to be capable, in any situation and throughout his or her entire life, to make conscious, realistic and tailored decisions.

In the history of psychology, the introspective method has long dominated, starting from the idea that humans have direct access to their own presence and reality. By observing knowledge from the perspective of introspection, it can be implied that being aware of yourself can be conceived as an inner look, as an act of self-reflection. After centuries of self-knowledge being the apogee of philosophy, along with the methods of modern psychology, a scientific explanation of this path has surfaced. According to lines traced by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, self-knowledge is an affective and cognitive process that develops with age and experience. From a psychological point of view, the complex process of self-knowledge involves several dimensions: the present, the future and the ideal self. The present ego consists of the social, physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual dimension. The future ego is characterized by how an individual perceives his personal development potential, his repertoire of aspirations and motivations. The last dimension is that of the ideal self, which reflects what the individual seeks to represent. Self-knowledge and self-acceptance are fundamental variables in optimal functioning and adaptation to the social environment, in order to preserve a balance between mental and emotional health. According to Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, each person is valuable and, in light of the human nature, has the capacity to develop and to choose its own destiny, to validate its qualities and positive characteristics, given that society provides a polished environment in which it is possibility for the self to enhance.

On another hand, according to determinists such as Marx, technologies such as rating systems, through the power of the internet, are not controlled by men, but, on the contrary, technologies control the people by shaping a society according to the requirements of efficiency and progress (Ellul 1964). Determinists usually argue that technology uses advanced knowledge of the natural world to serve the universal characteristics of the human essence, such as basic needs and human faculties. Each one responds to a significant discovery aspect of society’s characteristics of existence. Food and shelter are such demands and stimulate progress. Revolutionary inventions such as automobiles ‘replace’ feet, while computers enhance mental abilities. It’s not in an individual’s power to adapt technology to its whims, but he must rather adapt to these changes as the most significant expression of our race (Chandler 1977).

A suitable example where instantaneous rating system makes a difference is in the Uber universe (whose new 2016 inverted “C” logo resembles the one used in the 2017 movie “The Circle”), where drivers come with a history that is concretized in a rating, customers being evaluated as well. Therefore, Uber employees know the person they are about to travel with. These applied technology gives an insight of a world where many of the daily activities are already constantly monitored and analyzed: purchases, friends and interaction, hours spent watching content, playing video games, as well as the names of the video games you play and movies you watch. Privacy is at risk and, therefore, anonymity gradually becomes a luxury.

In my opinion, Egger’s book depicts a world very similar to ours, where the power of the internet is widely accepted, despite being, ironically, very ambiguous through its consuming transparency. TruYou, the password system that ensured The Circle’s domination, reminds me of the open plans advertised by companies such as Google, Facebook or Apple, desiring to connect everyone by using the power of their devices and services. They are feeding us instruments that our society cannot live without anymore. The rewarding cycle, and the effects of dopamine every time you get a like, a positive response or feedback on social media are changing the ways we observe our society and, therefore, our selves. We are an inpatient generation that wants everything ‘now’. An industry where “All that happens must be known.” Or in a more Orwellian turn: “Secrets are lies, Sharing is caring, Privacy is theft.”

Therefore, our society is going through a tumultuous change, as organizations and leaders try to promote more transparency, through instantaneous rating systems and other techniques. Dave Eggers novel does an excellent job of exposing beliefs, movements and the problems technology is brining into our human culture, providing points throughout his writing that caution us about a system that could replicate that of The Circle. As a young student of entrepreneurship, I have the obligation to evaluate my priorities and that of the world, understanding that working alongside my community and becoming one consolidated force must be my ultimate achievement.

When demanding times come, companies and their representatives can reach deep into their mutual beliefs and principles, so that they could work together on bigger causes and greater results (Deal, Kennedy 1988).  However, the desire of ‘making our voices heard’ should not get to a point where it deprives us from our freedom of individuality, in which life becomes an amorphous mass of ideas and manifestations that lack originality. Since progress also rises from contradictions, a perfect society is a utopia.

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