By Elisabeth S. Moreno
These past days, I’ve heard 3 sad stories related to my professional environment and it made me think about the way we are treating each other in our work space – which is somehow the reflection of the way we’re treating each other in our societies.
I wanted to share these adventures with the hope that it makes you think about what You and each of us can do to contribute to a better work environment.
First, let me relate the 3 real stories.
1. “ The brave truth teller”
This former Google engineer wrote a manifesto claiming biological differences between men and women that could account for lacking gender diversity at Google. This engineer is genuinely convinced that women are not biologically suited for certain types of work . His manifesto caused tremendous shock-waves across Google and he’s been fired for violating the company’s code of conduct. An American company.
2. “It was just a bad joke”.
A very professional and committed employee received a highly discriminatory joke her boss was sharing with the team. The manager sincerely apologized for what he called “a stupid bad joke”. The employee felt personally touched and was devastated. She lost her trust & confidence on the manager and is now struggling to stay in the company due to values conflicts. This situation will obviously have an impact on her personal an professional life. Too bad for her. And certainly for the employer. A French company.
3. “Change will come one day”
This team member is suffering from a difficult relationship with a boss who tend to be toxic, using fear and intimidation to maintain control. The most courageous ones have already left. The others are waiting for better days. Meanwhile, the team’s performance has significantly dropped. People stay because they have “no choice”. A Chinese company.
These 3 anecdotes might explain why recent studies have shown that lots of people are dissatisfied with their work environment. And the reason why I mentioned the nationality of these companies is because these events could happen everywhere, independently of the industry, the size , the nationality or the culture of the company.
Obviously not all jobs are good and someone will always be stuck doing something they’re not crazy about. Obviously I am fan of jokes and I take every opportunity to laugh. Obviously this manager has been promoted for good reasons, and he is doing what he thinks right.
But all the same, does the situation need to be as bad as it looks?
In fact, it’s all about human relationship.
“Our survival depends on our ability to form trusting relationships” S. Sinek
As human beings, the quality of our relationships – whether it is with our families, friends, colleagues, lovers, neighbors, or others- decides the quality of our lives.
It’s the strength of our relationships, the time we have with our families and friends, the respect we are given in the workplace and by our peers, the achievement we forge collaboratively and collectively which generates real happiness and fulfillment.
Relationship is the ocean in which we find meaning. And it is based on trust and empathy. If you look at experiences of those who report higher meaning at work, it is not only what people are doing–but rather who they are working with. Trust is the foundational principle that nurtures every relationship.
The uncertainty, ongoing change and constant competition we currently face in the economic world requires companies to set the conditions that can make trust and cooperation thrive.
If a business can create the right working environment, it will be tremendously successful with positive impact on its employees, its customers and the entire society.
The problem is, in the relentless grind of our daily work we often forget the impact our attitude has on others. Increasing a sense of meaningfulness at work is one of the most potent ways to increase productivity, engagement, and performance. But too often, it is underestimated.
Our beliefs, attitude and behavior sometimes causes relationship problems in our personal lives and in work-related situations. The more emphasis we have on our individual uniqueness and greatness, the less inclusive we are, and the more dangerous we become for our social environment. Trying to somehow make ourselves happy by being insensitive or disrespectful toward others -instead of using relationship to enhance our lives- never works in a long run .
If we begin to appreciate the meaning that infiltrates our daily workplaces, then we will grow our capacity to seek it, and seize it. This, in turn, will increase the value of meaningfulness in our work and ensure that it gains the esteemed position it so desperately deserves considering the long hours we spend there: a position alongside happiness.
I am not preaching for an aseptic environment where people can not express their views and opinions. This could be counterproductive. But a space where everyone feels treated with respect and dignity would foster the sense of belonging and reinforce the membership spirit.
“Treat others as you would like to be treated”
I sincerely believe that Work can be a fantastic opportunity to grow and thrive. It offers plenty possibilities to unleash our talent, go beyond our limits, create, innovate, meet with new people , get financial independence, travel, etc… provided they fit with our passions, our values and our strengths.
So let’s try to have the most respectful and positive relationship we can. No, it’s not an easy task. it will require attention and efforts. But it will be so rewarding. Think about the 3 people mentioned above; they certainly have good reasons for behaving the way they did. But their attitude not only impacts their colleagues , it also impact their personal lives. Imagine if they would have brought joy and consideration instead…
I’ve always felt that we should try to live our lives so as to leave the world a better place. And particularly in tough times. There are multiple ways, requiring small efforts to make this difference. The impact might be little or larger. It doesn’t matter, provided we try. Provided we do our part.
I will leave you with this anonymous suggestion to inspire your next contribution to a positive work environment. Enjoy and feel free to bring your ideas on how to contribute to a better work environment!