Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Mellows, RC, Improving Relationships, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 1998: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1998, 273-279.


People in the work environment {and often elsewhere) are seen as a commodity {we use them for our purposes). The general accepted view of a Company is that shareholders are "The Company" and that they employ people to utilise their money in a particular field to generate more money to give a return on investment. To achieve this, capital equipment is purchased to fulfil a task and people are employed to use this equipment. Equipment and people are commodities purchased with money. The focus of this approach is MONEY. The equipment and people, and the use of them, determines the amount of money that can be generated. In this approach people are motivated by financial concerns. The harder the times the more money becomes the focus. In more recent times there has been a greater recognition of the role of people, and Human Relations has become an "In" phrase. Recognition of the cost a person and the degree of value of various individuals has prompted action to adjust the approach to people to get the best out of them. This has become a management technique and has led to a great emphasis on in employee selection, job descriptions, training, industrial relations etc. This approach is reflected in our current push for Work Teams. However, this view is still badly flawed as it still looks at people as a commodity that must be managed correctly to gain maximum benefit. At Cornwall, a different approach is taken that on the surface may not seem so different, but it has a vastly different motivation and outcome.