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Lost in Translation

©2018 Gail Pursell Elliott

In the metaphorical book Walk the Talk, the CEO of a company was practicing a speech and a custodian was quietly listening in the back. After, the custodian said that he completely agreed with the CEO’s philosophy for the organization. Then asked if he would like to see what was really going on. The two took an anonymous walk through the company and found that the positive teamwork that the CEO promoted just wasn’t happening.  It was breaking down level by level until it was completely lost.

Many policy interpretations go over the edge when it comes to what might be construed as decency and treating employees as human beings. Most of their targets simply disappear, forced out by being placed in untenable or unworkable situations by shift, stress levels, changing work responsibilities, being set up by changing the rules without communication, to name a few.

All these scenarios are examples of an old management style designed to circumvent normal Human Resources procedures for terminating an employee’s services. It is expedient, heartless, and based on business principles that side step some forms of discrimination.  In some cases, it is standard procedure for what is referred to as cleaning house. It also falls within the discretion of management to implement any of these. After all, we’re running a business here.  Treating people equally does not mean treating them equitably. For hourly staff it seems there is no recourse. The finger is pointed at upper management as being the determining factor, and in many cases, this is true. Guidelines and directives may not smack of mobbing but the execution of them winds up being just that.

Over the years I’ve observed:

Reorganizations that eliminated positions held by long term employees just shy of retirement who have had to fight for pensions.

Departmental reorganizations in which current employees had to interview for their own jobs.

Hours reduced so that part timers who lived a distance away could no longer afford to work at the company.

Older employees who were transferred to shifts or work locations within a department that made it impossible for them to either fulfill the job requirements or impacted their health to the point they had to resign.

In some of these cases, employees went to their managers and explained their dilemmas.  Often their concerns and pleas fell on deaf ears or they were told that the manager had no choice. If you think that these employees kept quiet about their situations, think again.  Of course, they didn’t.  Sad, stressed, and scared, they shared their situations with coworkers as well as family and friends. Disgruntled? You bet. Coworkers formed camps of opinion. Some simply didn’t care. Some didn’t understand that elderly employees were working for survival. Some were disgusted with the way their coworkers were treated. In all cases, coworkers agreed that the company didn’t care about staff and was interested in only the bottom line.

If you recognize some of these scenarios occurring in your organization, there are some adjustments that can be made to alleviate situations that fall into the realm of mobbing. First, treating employees as individuals rather than merely part of a collective work group is essential. Sharing some issues with staff can trigger ideas from them for meeting the expectations of policy concerns. Above all, listening to employees’ concerns without brushing them off and working on finding proactive solutions will go a long way to keeping your reputation as one of seeing your work group as a team of individuals with a common focus. Taking care of them sets the tone for them to take care of each other and to care more about what they are doing for your company. And this impacts the bottom line as much as anything else. This is where the science of management becomes an art.

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For Speaking and Consulting contact Gail through her website:    https://innovations-training.com

For videos including the Five Phases of the Mobbing Process visit youtube.com/dignityrespectlady

Gail Pursell Elliott, “The Dignity and Respect Lady”, has over 20 years experience in middle and upper management, founded Innovations “Training With A Can-Do Attitude” in 1998, and is author of several books including School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse and co-author of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace.  Her Food for Thought articles are read by people around the world.   Gail has been a guest on such programs as MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight, ABC World News NOW television programs and the Workplace Violence Today program on talk radio.



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