By Staff Writer : Harvey Fewings.
In fact, toxic might be a better word to describe the modern corporate world. Many of them, not all of them, mind you , are cess pits of anger, over inflated tiny egos, control freaks, fear managers, vindictive and vituperative colleagues and managers, over promoted supervisors and team leaders in name only.
And, standing there, in bright day-glow pink, is an elephant in the corner of the room, that none of the inadequate individuals named above see or acknowledge its presence.
The name of the elephant is called respect. You are urged to keep that word in mind.
From the experience of the writer, which it must be declared, is hopelessly inadequate when it comes to Government Departments, Local, State or Federal, or even large corporate, multi- national conglomerates ; this writer has never been employed by any of them ; never wanted to and grateful for that.
The writer has been largely self- employed for many decades, but has had to deal with corporate monoliths, and all the various combinations of the modern workplace in between, from multi nationals to the local paint shop.
Listening to people talk of their workplace experiences is a solid way of gathering information about what seems to be happening in the modern workplace, large or small…and, depressing as it is most of the conversations centre around how difficult it is all becoming.
I am aware of people who dread the thought of having to go to their workplace ; they actually suffer physical/medical reactions to the thought of being exposed, on a daily basis, to the personal malevolence, the anger, the mean spirited small minded crap that is part of their daily work life.
It should not be so, it was never meant to be so ; so, why is it so ??
I am not a work place psychologist, not trained anyway, but I am an astute observer of the human condition and it is as obvious as a dunny in the desert that :
Much of the poison in today’s workplaces is introduced by people who feel/are inadequate for the position they hold.
Many people bring their personal inadequacies to the work place, where, because of the position they hold they are able to dominate others, be cruel to others or in some other malicious way dump their personal failings on their work colleagues.
People who, for whatever reason, feel they have failed in their personal lives/relationships, exact some form of bizarre revenge on their work colleagues.
There is also another deadly dynamic at work in todays’ workplaces and that is the disparity of age ; older, more mature workers understand the value of work and the dignity of completing tasks well, they have lived with adversity, learnt to value the experience of others and, more than likely, are prepared to seek the opinion of others. Older workers, however, have become less valued, except in some special places, and their experience, their knowledge and method of working is disparaged.
It is easy enough to state the problem ; it another matter entirely to question why is this so, and, what can be done about it ??
Whole Government institutions have been established to deal with this modern corporate phenomena – Fair Work Commission, Human Rights Commission and so on…but all they seem to have done so far is to seek to ameliorate the problem and punish the perpetrators, and maybe that is all that can be done at that level, because, in my view, the problem begins at a much more deeply personal level; a level which cannot be reached by Government departments.
Australians work because they wish to be a part of a productive community, they wish to gain the immense personal satisfaction of using their skills and talents to achieve goals, they wish to gain, by the experience of others in the workplace, knowledge and understanding of how things happen, why they happen and what effects these happenings have on their own lives and the lives of others.
Work or employment, expressed in simple terms, is a means of providing Australians with the dignity of purpose, the means of providing for themselves and their families and the opportunity of contributing to the functioning of their community or society by the means available to them. So, fundamentally, what we have are groups of people seeking common goals ; and those goals may be expressed in thousands of ways within the bounds of our community.
In almost every aspect of human endeavour, there will be, must be, a leader, who will light the fires of ambition, guide the actions of others, provide advice gained from experience and be the centre- point around which, the actions of all others revolve.
Axiomatic to successful leadership is the respect of those whom you lead. Whether this leadership occurs in the workplace, a factory, a hotel, a surgery, a retail shop or even a battlefield. Without the respect of those whom you lead, you will fail as a leader.
Irrefutably; you will fail.
Australians do not give respect because you demand it from them…they give it you because they want to, which means you have earned their respect. Respect is theirs to give and theirs to take away.
I have seen, over many years in the military and working for myself, men and women in the workplace, who demand the respect of others, who manage by fear – meaning ‘ I shall sack you if you don’t do what I tell you !! ‘, and, in each case, without exception, they fail as a leader.
They just fail. And, usually the business they own or manage fails with them.
I say, good. It should be so, the workplace has had enough of the duds.
What has worked for me, without fail, over many experiences, is honesty of purpose, a clear expression of what you hope to achieve, [ ‘ like, why are we here ? ] and an abiding respect for the skills and abilities of the people with whom you are going to be in touch with every day.
Your workmates !!
No one person can walk in the shoes of another. You will never know just what is happening in their deeply personal lives, what they fear, how they react to those fears, what demons drive them – you cannot know. But, what every leader should and must know, is the signs of these troubles, how to recognize them and how to deal them.
As a leader in the workplace you are charged with the responsibility of the complete safety of your people, you are charged with the responsibility of encouraging them to give their best to the tasks at hand, you are charged with the responsibility of giving your people the confidence to talk to you, to seek your advice and to feel free to have open and honest discussions about matters affecting the common workplace and how to deal with them.
Leaders cannot hide. You cannot hide behind your rank, your biology, your knowledge, or the lack of it ; you cannot hide behind the fact that you may have been elected by members of an organization, you cannot hide behind anything. Nothing.
If, as a leader, you use fear, threats, personal connections or any other perceived moral or physical advantage in the workplace, to gain superiority over your workmates, you are a failure as a leader.
A leader must have the moral courage to confront the bullies in the workplace, to provide them with help if needed and, in the end, if they neither accept nor want help, then move them on.
If you can’t do that – you are not a leader and should not fool yourself and your employer because you will not fool your workmates.
The mob will quickly work you out and withdraw their respect. And you won’t get it back.
Unequivocally, success as a leader in todays’ corporate workplace, or any work place for that matter, will depend entirely on your ability to gain and keep the respect of your workmates.
If you can’t do that – get out and work for yourself, see how long you last.
By Staff Writer : Harvey Fewings.