Would you let your child go down into a mine that had taken no safety precautions? Would you want your child to join a military where leaders had a proven record of caring nothing for the lives of those in their charge? Most likely, unless you’re ill or don’t like children, you are saying no. Of course you wouldn’t want your child in harm’s way. Yet, every day we create work environments for someone’s child that mirrors those scenarios. And while they may not be dangerous mines or killing fields, they’re environments that cram people into narrow roles where they have little input, virtually no decision-making power, are expected to perform mind-numbing menial tasks over and over ad nauseam, and are constantly told what to do with little to no acknowledgement or recognition for doing great work. If you think I’m being overly critical or unrealistic, go take a commuter train one day and ask around, you will be surprised at how people feel about work and how my description of hopelessness isn’t so far-fetched.
Now, if you’re still wondering about the connection between an unsafe mine, an army where lives are of no concern, and hopeless workplaces, think about it, all are examples where the people involved are not cared for, where their well-being doesn’t really matter. I mean, if a business and its managers truly cared for the well-being of their people wouldn’t they want them to think, grow, share their talents, and get creative? I would think so, yet so many employees deal with the realities of hopeless workplaces day in and day out. Is it any wonder why, for so many, Friday is the happiest day of the work week and Monday the day where most heart attacks happen?
Here’s the bottom line. We can all make this situation better. We can, in our own sphere of influence, show a little more concern for those around us. We can inspire the human part of our workforce to come out more and brighten up the place. We can ask more and tell less. We can engage for more opinions and ideas. We can empower people to do what they know to do. And we can encourage by recognizing the great work they do every day.
Many people work in hopeless environments but it can be better if each of us does what we can to consider the human piece, the living, breathing, I-have-problems, I-have-talents, I-have-ideas, happy, sad, easy, difficult human piece. Work can and should be more than technical details. Work is built by and for humans. Find ways to keep that in focus for yourself and everybody else in your workplace.
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