I like to write about company culture from time to time because I’ve had such a colourful experience in the many jobs I’ve had.
I’ve also encountered people with equally and sometimes even more interesting experiences.
Which leads me to find common issues that plague workplaces everywhere, of every size.
One such issue is the lack of loyalty amongst colleagues. Or to put it another way: no one has the guts to stand for each other anymore.
I was talking to someone who was going through a rough patch work-wise.
They had unexpectedly changed jobs a few times in just 2 years which naturally looks a bit odd on a CV despite the justification.
But what struck me was that they were solid in their work for many years before this
So what happened?
It turns out they unknowingly annoyed the pants off someone in the C-suite who then took it upon themselves to get rid of this person.
Things were changing in their role and what started out as a vendetta against their immediate superior soon filtered through the ranks and started affecting everyone in the team.
Some were pulled one way, some were cast away to the other side. Rightly or wrongly, this was happening because a different C-suite member wanted it this way. And so it simply had to happen.
My friend goes along to HR to try and get some clarity on what was going on and why. Surprisingly, the usually helpful HR shrugged it off but made a promise to “look into it”.
But HR never did.
And this meeting with HR went in their employee file.
Things chugged along for a little while after but unbeknownst to this person, someone senior in the C-suite was slowly taking over things and started snooping.
And that’s when they saw the meeting with HR.
And so began the war against the humble employee.
My friend ended up getting hauled across the coals, placed under strict new working conditions which were impossible to meet and they were then hung out to dry.
Not a peep from their superior. Not a peep from anyone else.
Just chewed up and thrown out like a piece of bubble gum.
No one dare raise their voices again. No one protested at the injustice. No one complained.
Everyone kept their nose down and carried on like nothing had ever happened.
It was all so odd too. This person was a model employee, well liked by others, received above average commendations on their work and generally enjoyed coming to work every single day, apparently.
So why then did it all go to crap?
That’s precisely why they ended up having such a rough work history after this experience.
It shook them to the core. How could they work so hard at their jobs and at maintaining strong relations in the office, to then receive a harsh punishment?
All because they spoke up and asked what was going on and why the changes were happening without consultation?
That to me is the core of the problem – the change in things. Change is always tricky even when you have consultation but to essentially change how people work without warning – and then chastise them for questioning it? Sounds awful. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
The lack of loyalty is also a concern. No one else took it upon themselves to also ask why things were happening and they definitely didn’t ask what happened to their friend.
What does it say of our society when we can’t speak up for one another in the workplace? When we can’t call out the bs and hold our superiors to account?
I personally hope I never lose the courage to speak up in the workplace. I see this person and I feel sad. One experience has destroyed their self confidence and kicked their self esteem in the guts. They no longer feel confident in their work ability and can barely manage social interactions. They’re now on anti depressants and seeking counselling.
It’s harsh and those responsible will probably never know what they did. Nor would they care.
After all, if you can act so callously towards someone, why would you even show any remorse?
Never stay silent. Speak up. For others, and for yourself.
Your life is not defined by your workplace.
And there is so much more to life than work.