Engagement is missing when you are the target of bullying

Have you ever worked for a company that has all the right Values, Guiding Principles and a well written Code of Ethic  as their  policies? Too often, the words on the pages do not reflect the actual behavior that is ongoing within the wall of an office or conference room. The words written as policy state a openness to differences, a place where tolerance is practiced. But the words do no create the organizational identity, organization culture; behavior does.

The behavior of individuals make up the true essence of the organizational culture. How can the behavior of individuals make up organizational culture? It’s very easy. On paper , it is written employees are encouraged to express their professional knowledge, and to engage in constructive criticism. Engagement may be  used throughout the organization’s written statements on the Values’ of the company/organization.  What is the definition for engagement in the written statements? Engagement can be defined  as key to employee’s  buy-in, openness to opinions, a way of enhancing the organization and  ultimate  job satisfaction.

Here’s how engagement looks in some organizations. You are in a meeting and the manager asks for ideas to address the problem: of new hires being fired on the last day of their probation. Specific reasons are given for the repeated behavior. Up to this point the reasons  given have to do with performance issues of the new hires. The  group create and exhaustive list centering on new hires performances. A new idea is suggested: maybe it is manager needing more training.

A manager hears suggestion and can not believe “there could be a problem with management” and made the  statement “that a dumb statement”. ” Why do you have to be so negative”? There is something wrong when in a meeting your idea or  someone else’s idea comes under attack. The idea is dismissed. There is anger for making the statement and the exchange becomes ” a personal attack.”  The suggestion does not please management /an individualand  animosity starts to build. Soon the repeated behavior becomes a contributing factor in the organization’s culture.

Do we enjoy getting chastised in a group or even in a one on one when the information or idea does not fit into a perceived solutions or set of conclusions? Let me be the first to say, one can only ignore personal attacks for a short period of time and then the flow of ideas will stop. No one wants to feel their ideas are not been seen as something of value to be considered. In brainstorm session it is often not the initial ideas that bring about the right solution but the initial idea become a starting point for exploring options. From the exploration of options comes the new or best solutions.  This exercise is an example of shared knowledge which takes me right back to engagement.

Engagement is a “hollow” values or principles if employees or even children are not free to express  their individual opinions; even the one that may at first seem outlandish. Engagement has ” to draw others into a conversation”. We all come from a different place with our live experiences. Let’s remember all conversations reflect being draw in; to share to hear, to add, to subtract and take to another place or perspective.

Are your organizational policies saying ” all are drawn in ( engagement)” but the practice is not even close? Does the intolerance apply to only some employees? Maybe the employees who have been accused of bring ” negativity” seem to have a hard time with engagement for reason beyond there control.  Maybe it is a subtle attack to undermine what we all should want from a meeting or business conversation : engagement.

hoping you are in ,