Bosses and employees seem to have a legacy of dichotomy in the workplace. When I hear them discuss each other, I often feel this dynamic has burrowed too deep into workplace culture. It seems that each side sees the other as a problem to solve, rather than an opportunity to build on. Both sides spend too much time worrying about each other and too often cope by engaging in a garden variety of office politics. Some level of distrust exists even in the most collaborative workplaces.
Any of us—whether a manager or an employee—can have a “Terrible Two toddler” moment. Because we are all human, and whether we’re two or 52, we still share all the same basic feelings of fear, power, love, hunger, anger, wanting praise, recognition, appreciation, and so on. But while we know, most of the time, how to rule in an out of control toddler, we hesitate to use the same techniques when it comes to managers or coworkers.
A national telephone survey we commissioned with a global independent research firm found than over 75% of workers believe office politics can create “harmful stress and that it hurts employee productivity.” More than 80% felt than “being a proactive problem solver with their boss, using strong people skills and indirectly modeling positive behaviors” – that is, “managing up” – is a valuable skill that should be offered at their companies. Sounds hopeful, right? Well, unfortunately, 70% of them felt that taking such steps could result in termination.
Employees are ready and willing to shoulder the responsibility for a better workplace—a collaborative work environment where everyone puts the larger good of the company first. Yet they distrust management’s ability to accept that help.
People often feel they must present two different “faces” at work and in personal life. But when there’s a true spirit of work together as people achieving a common goal, with a “what’s in it for us?” versus “what’s in it for me?” mindset—that results in a humanized, trusted workplace. (More at this page.)
Having worked on both side of the divide—advising managers as well as employees—I’m passionate about building a more invigorated workforce. One that is safe for success… safe for employees to make mistakes, innovate and take risks. It must be role modeled from the most senior levels in an organization.
But everyone can tap into their emotional intelligence —and engender a supportive, healthy work environment. The result is always greater productivity, and sometimes, innovative breakthroughs.