It’s the time of year when we think about ghosts and goblins, spiders and bats.
Last Friday night, I attended a concert at the Naval Academy with my husband Bill, daughter Katie, and her friend Isabel. I was supposed to be scared by the ominous music, the eerie decorations, and the actors who jumped out and startled people.
While I did get a jolt from all of that and it was great fun, I was more frightened by the workplace issues that I had encountered over the previous week. Yes, there are workplace issues that scare me even more than a random fake bat unexpectedly flying out of nowhere.
Do you have any of the following issues going on at your workplace?
- A board that is apathetic about the internal workings of the organization and acts as though the culture of the organization isn’t their problem
- Customers or vendors who make comments that are disparaging or abusive
- A CEO or senior leader with an anger-management problem who bullies and intimidates employees
- An employee who steals product or supplies from the company and acts like it’s the norm
- Staff members who routinely miss meetings, aren’t prepared, or do not add value to the company or the bottom line
- Colleagues who make suggestive or inappropriate comments, creating an uncomfortable work environment
- Deadlines that are so aggressive that it’s impossible to meet them
- Employees who don’t receive coaching, training, or anything to improve, yet remain in the organization for 5,10, 20 years
- Peers who are so stressed and tightly wound and their reactions so intense, that you are scared to confer with them
Workplace issues don’t just impact the bottom line; they create stress and anxiety for workers. What workplace issues scare you?
Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If you are aware of any of the above, and you aren’t scared out of your Halloween costume, you should be!
A few years ago, I had the privilege of being a panelist at the DC chapter of the National Speakers Association. After all the panelists had a chance to share their tricks and expertise, the audience was encouraged to ask questions.
As it turns out, there was a guest from NYC attending the meeting. The poised and delightful woman, Ellen, had just moved from the Big Apple to accept a full time job within a company where she had previously consulted. Ellen asked the panel, “What tips do you have for helping me stay active as a self-employed speaker and consultant, as I start my new full-time, professional job?”
A bit of probing revealed that Ellen’s new job involved leading a new and important division of the company. She would have seven direct reports, a multi-million dollar budget and plenty of naysayers watching her every move.
As I heard Ellen’s question, I thought, “That sounds a bit like, ‘How can I build a cathedral while I am exploring space?’”
Another member of the audience piped up, “Sounds like it’s important for you to be where you are.”
How about you? Are you chasing a rainbow that you already hold in your hands?
I was facilitating a retreat last week and Nida, a participant, told me that her manager makes her absolutely crazy. As Nida described her manager, Adam, he did indeed sound like a jerk.
Adam sent directions for all of Nida’s tasks via email. Even when starting a new project that would last for months, Nida learned about the project via email. This would have been understandable if the two were across continents or time zones; in actuality, they sat across the hall from one another.
But that’s not all. Adam never recognized Nida; he didn’t tell her thank you for her work. As I questioned this, Nida twisted her computer screen so I could see it. Just as Nida said, there were a slew of messages from Adam, yet none of the completed tasks received a thank you…not even a “thx.”
Nida shared all the injustices with me. Adam piled on the work. He didn’t care about her as a person. He never offered appreciation. He didn’t recognize all the work Nida was performing. He didn’t want the office coverage to suffer so he never allowed Nida to take a Monday or Friday off; those were the days Adam saved for himself.
After listening and verifying Nida’s impressions with others in the organization, I learned that what Nida was alleging was true, or at least nearly true.
Nida said to me, “Can you fix Adam? After all, that is what you do, right?” She continued, “Can’t you write him up? Can’t you get him fired?”
Actually, I had to tell her, “No, I cannot.” One of my coaching colleagues says often, “There’s no law that says managers need to be considerate or kind. While it is the best practice, what’s acceptable in one organization may not be tolerated in the next.”
While I do try to help every level of employee to be more relational, more appreciative, and more collaborative, unless the organizational culture supports and sometimes demands a collaborative work environment, little if any change will occur.
When we stay in toxic environments, most of us become toxic ourselves. I know that has become true for Nida. She complained a lot, moved from task to task slowly, and completed her work always doing the minimum.
How about you? If you are so miserable, why are you still there?