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Blog #5 - Make or Break; which role would you like to play?

This week I got quite distressed. At the beginning of the week I met ex-colleagues from a while back. They told me about a very dedicated employee I know, full of motivation that works in the company for many years, and now is being ‘corporate bullied’ by her direct manager. What do I mean with ‘corporate bullied’? Receiving bad performance reviews without proper logic, uncontrollably getting an unreasonable amount of tasks, and is addressed by a rough tone. Basically, the manager creates a negative working environment and is doing everything possible to break the spirit of a positive-minded employee, who gave her best years to the organisation.

On a different instance but on exactly the same day, I met a friend and when asking about her new working place, I received the long ‘hmm’, which immediately makes you think. It turns out that her direct manager raises her voice quite often and approaches people with impatience. This behaviour makes the whole working experience much more challenging, as it is not only unpleasant but also difficult for my friend to understand what the manager really wants to achieve and can greatly damage her performance.

These negative behaviours join a long list of behaviours that can be seen way too often around us; colleagues that don’t treat each other in respect, hide information to gain professional advancement, or simply believe in the “it’s me, or them” approach. These situations are occurring in the best places and unfortunately most of the time employees accept the situation as it is, while trying to find a ‘work-around’. Strange, right? While, in our private life we all try to be respectful to our parents, partners, and friends, with the hope to receive the same treatment back. As parents we do everything we can to educate our children to be nice to one another. So why when we get into our business-life we encounter unexplained behaviours? To better understand, these can be viewed from both organisational and personal perspectives.

From organisational perspective, expectations and pressure can cause employees to forget their values and identity as the status, salary, and future career is sometimes at stake. Sentences such as “business is business” and “power games and politics are everywhere” are used as excuses for toxic environments. From a personal level, lack in professional maturity, confidence, and understanding managerial and leadership skills, are very likely reasons that cause negative behaviour. Helping people to grow requires deep views and certain skills that should be learned and mastered before being in a position to define the reality and future of others. And let’s face it, not everybody has the personality or the wish to have this heavy responsibility of guiding people on a daily basis.

Reviewing the above reasons makes you think that a solution for corporate aggressiveness in organisations is not so simple to solve, and you are correct. To make these negative influences vanish from our work-floors, both cultural and change campaigns must be performed.

Close collaboration between all the stakeholders involved; upper and mid management, teams, and employees in all levels will make the change. However, true cultural change takes time so till then acknowledge you have lots of power in your hands: simply create the environment of ‘Making and not Breaking’ within your own corporate circle. How to do that? In three words: adapt a mentoring mindset. You don’t need to have the title or expertise to guide people. Be confident in your knowledge and values and know how rewarding it can be to help somebody grow. Consider these few quick simple tips on how to become an immediate mentor to others:

  • Come from a good place; be accommodating, not competing.

  • Trust others and if you have any doubts about their motives to learn, openly ask.

  • When you get a question provide some context, share the steps to the solution, and explain/demonstrate how it works in practice.

  • Take the time, be approachable with your explanations, and constantly reflect if these make sense to the other.

  • Don’t rush into conclusions or judge. You never know what’s going-on in other people minds.

  • Enjoy to see how others learn from you and how you contribute to their knowledge, and ideally to your own team and organisation’s success.

Take these tips and start to implement them today. By doing so you’ll experience how more and more people want to be around you, because you ‘make’ them become better. At the same time, look around for the people who are currently ‘breaking’, and depending on your relationship with them, guide them or flag the issues to their superiors or HR.

Nobody wants to be part of a ‘Breaking’ environment. We all want to succeed, and this we will only be able to reach if we’ll all ‘Make’ this happen - together!

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