Blog: Are you listening and responding?
I decided to write this article given my 32 years of industry experience and the unlimited situations and questions that professional colleagues have shared with me. While this article may touch some nerves, it is meant to shed light on how to create a better and more collaborative work environment.
I have had the privilege of working with many talented professionals with a variety of experience and professional goals. Many of these professionals I assisted with reviewing their respective resumes, along with writing and summarizing professional achievements, references, and recommendations. During conversations about their professional objectives I would ask direct questions (as if to be an interviewer) what worked and what did not work in the current or previous position, and what they were seeking in their next opportunity. The answers were diverse, however clear. They wanted a position where they were heard when they had questions or there was a problem or challenge. These situations included everything from a "bad boss", "bad and toxic employee" or an "untrustworthy environment" created by leadership.
The untrustworthy leadership rang true for me as well in many situations. Leaders would communicate "one idea", however would act in total opposite of what was communicated. My favorite observation would be a leader hosting an employee meeting and deliver words of encouragement and inspirational messages, only to discount these messages with lies, deceit, and delivering their personal narrative to their respective leaders. The interesting thing about this phenomena is that it is like an unstoppable virus. It creates an environment of stress, dislike, distrust, and low productivity.
Even if this was addressed with these unsavory leaders, the behavior continued often times with no recourse of consequences or accountability. This was truly disheartening to hear and disappointing to experience first hand. As you can imagine, it caused a revolving door of people leaving the organization frequently. Did anyone care? Were there ways to address this without leaving your position? How could anyone stay in this type of environment? All great questions and ones that were probably never fully addressed for those I have had this conversation.
Most of what I heard in the way that organizations addressed these concerns were through departmental managers, human resources, or some "1-800 number" (meant to keep your concern private). Did these avenues work? Well, you would need to hear the stories and decide for yourself. Some of these may have worked in the short term, however leaders were often offended and became more resistant to hearing from the employees. However, you guessed it leadership still had those employee motivational, "we care" meetings full of empty words and no true actions.
With all that being said, you ask, "what is the point", or "what is a solution" for those professionals who find themselves in this situation? I was fortunate to recently participate as an observer in an Emotional Intelligence workshop, and there was a participant who summarized a good way to utilize the concepts of "EQ" in an acronym: S.P.A.C.E., which stands for (self-awareness, positivity, authenticity, considerate, empathetic). If your leadership or work culture is not adopting these principles with managers and employees, you may want to consider departing to eliminate the stress you are feeling and possibly a toxic work environment.
If you are asking the questions and only receiving empty words and no actions, share the solution and the adaptation of Emotional Intelligence in your professional culture.
It takes work and commitment, however if adopted you may just have the professional environment you seek and may answer all those questions of "why" and "why not". Sending you the S.P.A.C.E. you seek.
I am fortunate to work with MSBCoach, a boutique executive coaching firm, specializing in executive leadership/team training solutions. I invite you to visit our our workshops as you plan for your organization's successes in 2024. And, feel free to contact us at