Another post related to the work place and far from homesickness or travel.
“Nat, you take some things too seriously..” is what I keep hearing. One thing I want to say to all my beloved people who tell me this : I respect the pain I have been through enough to make proper use of it and turn it into a change catalyst instead of letting it go like that untouched..
I wanted to tackle a topic which I find so critical and at the same time very much under-rated. This is from the many people I have seen suffering around me from corporate “ok’s” and “not ok’s”. And I hope I will continue this path of doing what is right as much as I can and as long as I am working…
Have you been working for a bad manager before? What’s a bad manager? Well there are so many forms you can describe a bad manager, however one thing for sure, a bad manager is not just someone who is different from us or opposes us. The way I have seen and experienced, there is a certain set of criteria that cannot be easily measured but rather tracked in small actions and details.
A bad manager could be someone who micromanages you or who does not care at all. It could be someone very moody, or someone completely cold and distant. It could be someone too much of this or too much of that and the key is always balance.
We cannot measure human balance, but there is a factor where results can be measured and it is monitoring the peace index of another human being around us. Measuring the trust and faith someone develops and puts into a certain relationship is an indicator that this is a good manager. A manager is not someone who has a 9 to 5 job. A good manager simply means a good human before. And hence, interpersonal relations and patterns of social behavior and aspirations should be taken into consideration before we say good or bad manager. There are certain skills that can be developed and polished through experience and coaching, however there is an intuitive empathy, understanding, and connectedness which the manager should have prior being assigned. A person cannot be taught affection nor ethics like that.
Usually people look for certain skills while hiring people managers , technical experience, more or less could be super detailed or could be very generic, and then they ask for experience in managing people.
Dear recruiters, we are managing humans our entire life. You have to bet on someone that they will make it. Give them an opportunity, and invest in a future leader.
Experience in managing people does not necessarily mean this person has successfully lead a team. And leading a team could be done and is usually done by an engine which is usually not in an authoritative level. And in this sense , many bad managers are hired, and many potential leaders are missed , for the mere literature and art of writing a resume, where your job title is main point of attraction.
Moving on with the subject. When collective resignations occur from a toxic environment, how can a candidate applying for a new job explain this to an interviewer and how can the recruiting company aquire credible reference checks?
Office politics and diplomatic affairs!
What if I conduct a reference check and I get a negative feedback, from 2 or even 3 people. What if these people are within a clique that usually occurs within many cultures and in most work environments. With that, a person’s potential to get hired would be almost impossible, and the scale to measure Toxicity and professionalism levels of the candidate’s old company is almost impossible.
Social media propaganda, political words and impressive charisma, will always manage to manipulate real life situations , and capturing poor leaders and bad managers in the spot becomes almost impossible. It is this fine loophole that the corporate and work environment has set for us. Rules and codes of ethics can always be written , and can be strictly applied, however that does not make them correct or fair. In the absence of human intuitive goodness, kindness and ethical standard , we can never ensure these documents and standards are there for good reason , and us, let me adress my Human Resources peers mainly who should be advocates of ethics and morality, fairness and humanity, would lose track of our main role in the workplace and would actually participate in further corruption.
How can we ensure ethical and good managers and leaders are hired if we keep looking into technical experience of managing a team rather than the potential set of skills a person can intuitively have and which could be further developed through time. How can we catch those toxic reference checks that haunt an employee simply because they once had a bad manager who happened to be incompetent and is insisting on bringing them down no matter where they go. How can we ensure leadership trainings are actually creating human leaders who can empathise sincerely, coach genuinly and celebrate the success of their subordinates. How can we ensure that all these procedures we have set actually serve as truth ambassadors instead of rules and bureaucratic procedures. How can we track the poor leadership presence, and the toxicity, and psychological manipulation, even within environments that encourage “psychological safety” and yet not miss out on these managers that make use of their subordinates’ need of a job and money.
How can we track unfair promotions, unfair psychological biases, poor skilled people promotions and the loss of good talent which could potentially have created greatness within the processes of a company. How can we mark bad managers even if they speak politely, dont micromanage, and empower people, however they fail to appraise good morals and reinforce bad behaviors, seem not to understand, lack empathy , cannot advise, and are focused on their own self.
A bad manager can be bad in so many ways, and an employee can seem bad in many other ways. Up till now some HR people abused their positions , some tried, and some just operated in their positions. But let’s talk truth, HR should be the change advocate, they should fully gain power of their own function and message, and reinforce healthy workplace practices, where more human aspects are taken into consideration, and more trusted actions which don’t fall under any “rule” or “code” but rather use more wisdom and emotional intelligence to read and interpret what is being unsaid.
Employees till now fear retaliation, they avoid speaking up, then they fear bad references, and still they dont speak up, and they leave their companies without having helped in the development of previous organization on any level, and the cycles of toxicity continue, while companies lose money and resources on useless trainings and trying to figure out how to motivate their people. When sometimes all it takes is firing the person “up there” and setting up a healthy recruitment process where a real good human is placed in the right position.
I was once shown a very offensive sexual video in the work place by someone who I didn’t even have a friendship with. Apart from me being the HR of this person , I was shocked as a colleague, as a lady, and as a human that someone would approach me and find this offensiveness a joke. There was an ethics committee designated for that, and immediately with my shaking hands and shocked mind , I went to my manager and reported this. The decision was left to the General Manager which I assumed since she is a woman, would understand the intimidating feeling this action has been and how offensive. Instead of finding support as a colleague, and support as management , and support as an ethics committee member, I had to sit and listen how she was once “harrased” and how she refused it , got over it, and kept professional relation with this person. The situation was then manipulated and my feelings were belittled saying that this video was a joke and many people found it funny. I couldn’t do anything because of the fear that my manager would be retaliated for escalating this situation. And since then the relationship has gone bad and I lost my respect and trust in a management which was supposed to process what code of conduct said. However, because of the unspoken and unsaid interpersonal pressures, bullying, exclusion and many other things, I had to let go , and protect myself and my manager from psychologically suffering in the workplace simply for fighting for what is right and for applying what code of conduct says. I am sharing this story publically today for the first time. And I see this person still in her career path, and still holding management positions, I ask myself, how many would have suffered after me, and what could a junior person like me back then have done? And would I have found proper support and action taken on her…
With that incident in mind, I keep my promise to myself, to never care about what reference check I might get from her, or pote tial people like that, and to make sure to strive and fight for change even if it would be painful. And to keep my humanitarian cause within the workplace my number one motivation and driver, to make sure unwritten rules are there to defend someones rights when written rules fail to do that and to respect psychological contracts when written contracts fail to respect.
Leaving you with a picture of clear blue sky because I ran out of ideas of what would suit this the best…