• Joanne Meneghetti

Face the Challenges

When we find ourselves in situations where we want to positively contribute to the change process and support our people and are having doors closed on us as managers it can be stressful. Let me share with you an experience I had where this was exactly what happened.

Some time ago I became aware of workplace bullying and racial discrimination occurring within a workplace, my workplace.

I went to my manager with the evidence and reported it. I was told they would deal with it, and I believed they would.

Sometime later I followed up only to be told ‘I was advised by HR and Senior Management to put a lid on it’. For a split second, I was frozen in time, so taken back that words failed me. I challenged my manager and the decision. I pushed and pushed to have this reconsidered.

It was never going to happen, and I didn’t want to accept it. My manager didn’t have the ability to push this any further, and if they attempted to it would be ‘career-ending’ for both them and likely me as well. We talked for a long time and it was explained to me that I needed to let it go.

I could see the disempowerment in my manager’s demeanour and hear it in their voice. They so desperately wanted to push forward with this, but the risk was too high. It wasn’t a price they were willing to pay.

It was soul-destroying to watch the anguish my manager was battling. Wanting to do what was ethically and legally right, yet not being able to do so. For in doing so would be ending any opportunity for career progression within this workplace and perhaps externally as well. After all, who wants a manager that will stand against their organisation at any time?

Perhaps you too have been through similar?

Why did this occur? It might be because one of those involved in the bullying was a family member of someone who was extremely well-positioned in the organisation and they would not want this kind of blemish on their reputation.

Then of course there was the reputation of the organisation, they couldn’t take a hit like this, it would severely damage them. I feel it was more likely the latter. Matters like these will get media attention and they are costly in many ways.

If you can relate to this scenario and have ever found yourself stuck between a rock and hard place like this one you will know that it takes enormous resolve to decide on a course of action and then make your way through it.

You will also know, even if you are strong and resilient and ready to take on the fight, you also need to be prepared to risk your financial security and your reputation because these fights can get tough and you may end up in a long hard battle you never intended on.

If you choose the path of least resistance do so knowing you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Do so knowing that the people who depend on you to protect them and support them lose the fight because of you.

Remember when I said you should relinquish your position? This is why you should.

If you choose the path less traveled be prepared to face some challenging times. But face them anyway. Dig deep and reach out to all your resources and all their resources. You have it within you and you can do it.

Remember why you joined the workplace you are in. What attracted you to this workplace? How did you feel each day coming to work? Remember when you were full of excitement and engaged and contributing. Remember when you were proud of who you are and where you work. Reach down inside for that and hold on to it because that’s why you are here.

We are long past the phrase ‘it is what it is’. You can no longer morally or ethically dismiss the wrongs that are occurring at your workplace under your watch. Together we are stronger and together great leaders will emerge. Under your watch, it is possible to create a new path that leads to safe and happy workplaces.

Take back your power and face these challenges head-on knowing there is much more to gain than there is too loose. Build a workplace culture that encourages and supports this for everyone and reclaim what is rightfully yours. A robust and sustainable workplace where everyone feels valued.

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