IT IS WHAT IT IS
There is a feeling of hopelessness being experienced by the very same people who once joined your organisation with enthusiasm and excitement.
Remember the person who comes to you today asking for support and telling you they are unhappy? They were once happy. They were coming to work every day brimming with energy. They were creative, contributing and helpful. They smiled a lot, they engaged in conversation with their colleagues and they laughed from time to time as well.
Do you remember this person?
Maybe you were this person once too?
This person now stands before you, asking you why?
They want to know why bullying is ignored here and swept under the rug?
They want to know why women aren’t promoted at the speed that men are?
They want to know why HR fail to action complaints fairly?
They want to know why you don’t stand up to the managers above you and support them?
They want to know why nothing has changed?
Why has bullying in the workplace been a topic for the past 20 years and we are still experiencing it?
You better not tell them ‘it is what it is’.
You simply cannot default to this dismissive phrase and tell your people that there is nothing to be done and they simply must accept it or deal with it because it won’t change. You may feel like there is nothing you can do, and you want them to accept things just as you have, but the reality is if you are feeling this way you need to consider relinquishing your role as a people manager.
I have heard this too many times in my working life and it sits right up there with ‘you can’t beat the system.’ It’s too easy to drop this phrase and excuse poor management and poor behaviours. It’s a cop-out. It’s the closing of a door. You close the door to your people when you shrug your shoulders and gesture vaguely as you say ‘it is what it is’.
What about you? Are you feeling the despair and hopelessness too? Are you feeling disempowered? It speaks volumes to me when a manager, someone responsible for the health and well-being of human lives, reaches for a phrase that offers no hope or solution.
It speaks of the desperation to an impossible situation when you simply shrug your shoulders and shake your head as you walk away. Are you wishing things were different and perhaps there was a way to make things better for yourself and those under your care? I hope so.
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’. 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. Perhaps you too have been through similar?
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 travelled be prepared to face some challenging times. But face them anyway. Dig deep and reach out to all your resources and all their resources.
Remember why you joined the workplace you are in?
What attracted you to this workplace?
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’ rather it must now be coined ‘It is what you accept!’
You can no longer morally or ethically dismiss the wrongs that are occurring at your workplace. 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 to lose. 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.