Opportunity series. Redefining working relationships.
The search for constant improvement requires effort and courage. Once the obvious has been fixed, some organisations stop, and others continue. Turning every pebble on the beach and looking for the hidden treasures. Daring to change the unchangeable and explore new territories.
Plain and simple. Many working relationships are still cat and mice behaviour. Childish. We give each other as little as possible; we hold our frustrations and resentment and carry on. It does not mean they are unproductive relationships, but they never fulfil their collaboration potential.
Some of these relationships go on for many years. The job still gets done. The employee does not give her best. The company does not achieve what it could achieve.
There are multiple reasons. The employee feels she is not getting the recognition, or the opportunity to do more, or feels treated unfairly in comparison with others, or resents the way criticism, or communication happens around her.
Sometimes there are not better opportunities out there or is hard to replicate some other benefits of the current arrangement. We think or we know it is not greener on the other side.
The employer feels there is no responsibility and things stop when the manager is not watching. They suffer from a lack of ideas and ownership from employees. They regret their lack of excitement or the absence of a desire to grow.
Not many are able to break that deadlock and, eventually, get used to things just being the way they are. Maybe this is what a working relationship is meant to be. Anecdotes and stories from the past convinced us there is nothing we can do about it. This is all I can get working here. This is what the company can expect from most of its employees.
Actions that should help us to overcome these limitations sometimes result in further damage. HR led activities related to leadership, management, or employee experience often fall short and make the relationship even more painful. The elephant in the room remains untouched and not discussed. The exercise makes things even worse.
The question is: could it be greener here? Can we face the issues that are bothering the other party, accept the limitations of how we do things and embrace the excitement of growing better together?
A global crisis is a surprisingly good moment to make progress. A time of reinvention with the potential to change how we treat each other and work together like no other.
Start by analysing causes, rather than consequences. Whatever our role, we are all responsible for some of those consequences.
My lack of ownership or responsibility leads to extra measures of control (including laptop tracking, or cameras on the warehouse), which of course infuriates me and my colleagues because we are not criminals or children.
The opposite is also true. My inability to trust and empower people leads to frustration and low morale. If I am not able to defeat that fear I will never create the conditions for people to thrive and be their best.
What is uniting us? What is it that gives meaning to what we do? What else apart from exchanging work and a salary can we find in this relationship to make it shine? What do we have in common that will help us accept what happened and put it in the past?
Work is a human relation with incredible potential. We give discretionary effort when we feel that human connection with what we do and who we do it with.
Creating conditions depend on all of us. It is time to lead with emotions, transparency, fairness, and example. It is also a time to work responsibly, to embrace our role in getting through this challenging time. It is an adult to adult relationship. It will help us to go through this crisis and to make work more meaningful and enjoyable.