In the last few months, I have come across worrying signs in the meetings that I’ve had with our valued customers. Not only are we struggling out there to keep our heads above water, to weather out the current storm of difficulties and demanding organisational needs, but this constant drive for more for less (and with less) from organisations at the moment is leading to us losing our humanity.
That’s a bold statement I know, however I have recently been working with people maltreated by their employers, I’ve seen how people are off with serious illnesses (cancer, pneumonia, strokes) as a result of stress and work, and I’ve seen first hand how callous and inhumane some CEO’s and leaders feel they have to be in order to get the job done and deliver what needs to be delivered.
Now I believe that no one wants to be horrible. No one wants to be inhumane, but when we are set impossible targets, when we are under more pressure to deliver than ever before. Sometimes we get caught in the story, get caught by it all, and perhaps we ignore things that we really shouldn’t ignore. Tolerate things that we really should not tolerate.
The system at the moment is one that doesn’t want us to think or care. It wants us to deliver – to give more and more, faster and FASTER, with less people, less time and less budget.
So how can this system work? When we look at it like this surely this is untenable, surely this can’t work? Well it can’t work long term. It can short term, but that is only if we treat people as a consumable resource. One that is ultimately replaceable when one is worn out or not of use anymore – (sound familiar the contractors amongst you out there?)
However on a more positive note, people are remarkable, and at the moment they are the glue that keeps organisations together, the oil that keeps the cogs of the machine running, even though they are severely understaffed, is the will and power of their people. So isn’t it time that organisations said thank you to their people? The people who enable the business to keep in business? Who deliver, who go beyond the call of duty to ensure the mission impossible is fulfilled and made possible?
Isn’t it time that we actually brought the humanity back into business? A business where we dared to care, where we stood up for a work colleague, where we stood up for each other?
There is some interesting new research that shows that people are losing their ability to empathise. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the workplace. We don’t see the ‘work me’ as who I really am. So we do things at work that we’d probably never do in our personal lives. We also forgive behaviours that we would find intolerable outside of work, because ‘that’s just the way it is here’.
You see, as we are put under more and more stress so we become more individualistic, we rightfully look after ourselves first because we do not have the resources in our fuel tanks to protect more than just us. We can’t look after everyone anymore, we’re so busy trying to get our own impossible to-do list done, that we struggle to find time for anything else.
So sometimes we might send a snotty email or have a curt conversation with someone that with hindsight we regret. We might say yes to something, when actually we wish we’d said no! And what about when we witness other people being treated in a way that we wouldn’t want to be treated? Do we turn a blind eye? Do we look the other way? Do we not make a stand for fear of being picked on next? It’s totally understandable, but is it right? Is our silence allowing our natural empathetic responses to be dampened and lessened?
At what point do we say no?
Where is the line that someone has to cross before we say that’s not OK?
When we lose our empathy, we lose our humanity.
You can deliver more, if you care and look after your staff. Investing time and effort into your staff isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity for ensuring a happy, successful and productive organisation! There is so much research on this, and yet right now there are few organisations that are putting this into practice.
I mentioned earlier that its time for us to not tolerate things we are currently tolerating. To challenge what we feel isn’t right. There are basic human values that are being tested here today in today’s business practices. Inhumanity is being tolerated, and that’s something that has to be checked. Has to be stopped.
So how do we do that?
Well, release the hand of fear for a start.. Fear has been controlling many of our lives for too long. And.. get together to say NO.
When we are running the story that it is just us, just me vs. the organisation then if I stand up and say no then I am just a trouble maker. However, if I find like-minded people, people that believe in what I believe in then we can ally together. If we stand together, we are stronger, its hard to call you trouble makers when you have a team of 20 allies!
So how about making that list of allies right now? How about getting together with others to share the problems and difficulties you face? Remember a problem shared is a problem halved, and a monster shared is a monster halved too!
Find you own ‘rant buddies’ people at work that you can just go and have a good 5 minute rant about something with.
Find people that have witnessed similar bad behaviours and band together to do something about it together. You don’t just have to have one group of allies, the wonderful thing about allies is that you ally together over one cause, so if you have more than one cause, you can have a different set of allies for each!
Too many people right now are making passive choices. Its time to be pro-active, time to make active choices to change the way your workplace is.
The only way to change the way we work is to band together and to work together in a different way. To actively champion the causes and values that you hold dear and prove that working in a more caring, supportive, encouraging way is the way to get more done!
So let this month be a month that you find and get together with like-minded people in your organisation. The time for isolated working is over, its time to band together for a common purpose, a common goal. And I think that standing up for what is right, standing up for real human values, and treating people fairly and equally is a darned good common purpose to have!
If you can’t make that group in your own organisation, remember that here at Meta we are happy to be your rant buddies, and we’re happy to put you in touch with other people that feel just like you.
We are passionate about doing all we can to change the way we work. Its time for a more evolved way of working, and if you’re willing to make a stand for that, then we are with you every step of the way.
So call on us for support or guidance, we are always here for you, our valued customers and friends, and we always will be.
Wishing you a wonderful month!