June 15, 2022

No, no, not me

One of the organizations I worked for was full of small “p” politics. Our employee recognition program should have given out Emmy Awards as there was more drama than a day-time soap opera. Looking back now, the headwaters of the drama came from a lack of trust, a lack of accountability, and self-preservation skills that had been learned over time. I kept an email when I left from a senior leader. In it, she clearly distanced herself from a decision made within her unit as being an “HR decision.” I found this fascinating as all of the people involved in the decision reported to her, the decision impacted an important function in a unit that generated an important stream of income, but she disclaimed any accountability.

I’ve thought about that email quite a bit - puzzled at the response. But, it is clear to me now. She was afraid. Afraid of what others thought of her, afraid of making a decision, afraid of getting in trouble, and afraid of losing her job. In the end, the large department that she ran was in chaos. People united together in small workgroups for protection, for comfort, or they got the heck out of there. It was disheartening to see as people were churned up in the process. What made it worse is the leaders above this person knew there was a problem, but, frankly, suffered from the same diagnosis that she suffered from.

Here is a little test. If you think your team has any of the above indicators, listen to the language of the people on the team. Do they ever verbalize ownership for your organization’s Vision statement? Do they criticize the values? When assigned a project do they point out what others aren’t doing? Do they thank others for their work? Do they send emails or texts that are less about information sharing and are more about covering their backside? Whenever you hear from them do they live in the past - their past jobs or past accomplishments? Are they an amazing Monday morning quarterback - commenting on how they knew there was going to be a problem with a decision? Are they quick to volunteer others? Or, a classic one from my work world - if they work in human resources - are they constantly bringing in legal to make policy decisions? Any of this make your tummy turn?

The antidote is clear - creating healthy work teams requires an underlayment of trust, communication, and psychological safety and making hard decisions. We want to help you as we have lived through all of the above situations. Please take a tour for 30 days and know that we have your back.

Your friends at BestDayHR