“I would never go back to that company”, a friend tells me. “There is a culture where you cannot share your real emotions. You are forced to play cool at all times. This is toxic.” I nod silently. Although the professional business environment certainly encourages less emotions than other work places, there is a tendency in some company cultures to extinct emotional up and downs in order to not seem ‘weak’.
To be precise: not ‘weak’ towards clients or competitors, but even within the same team the competiveness can be so challenging that grief, sleepless nights and illnesses are hidden. In consequence, colleagues who hit bad luck in life are rather willing to leave the company than sharing their true state of well-being.
The fear of being the ‘lame duck’ in the cohort with less chances of promotion and a potential longterm stigma of an underperformer drives well educated and important colleagues into silence, distrust and despair.
But even good luck in life can turn out into bad impact for the career. I hardly know any woman in consulting who wasn’t afraid of telling her boss about her pregnancy. Most colleagues (w) mentioned that they tried to not announce a pregnancy during promotion season as they are afraid of not getting the well-served promotion they have worked for several years. (Unfortunately, these fears are still justified.)
If that is the status quo in your company, why would you change it?
Unfortunately, a lot of people believe that a career must be hard – especially in the way we work together. They might have had a hard time in their starting years and now they are fueled with pride having survived the hell of weak leadership and toxic work environment. They wear the scares of long working nights, hostile bosses and unbearable project setups prideful and tell the next generation about their heroism.
But what is heroic about surving a hostile boss? Why would anyone want to work like this? Is this immagical batch of honor worth to bully the next generation, too?
Instead of only having people in the team who either live a problem-free life and therefore can dedicate all their energy towards the company or ignore their emotions until they have a mental break down, we might want to consider the advantages of a team who accepts everyone’s highs and lows.
When I walked through a personal intense time, I luckily had a team who covered for me at the project. I just wasn’t able to work overtime everyday. I managed the 8 hours per day. Then my strength was gone. Although the burden for my team was higher during this season, the collaboration weld us together. The bonding between the people of that time holds until today and we are supporting each other in our careers even if we are not in the same company and could be considered ‘competitors’.
The power that is unleashed between people who have walked together through hard times cannot be measured in money – but you can be assured that your productivity will be much higher than in a group of people who compete against each other.
‘Hard times’ in this sense doesn’t refer to intense project work with long hours. It refers to life itself – when your colleague needs to take care of his/her parents; when your colleague builds a family and wants to stay in the job aswell; when a diagnose takes away all the energy.
As colleagues we are sharing parts of our lives together – and the highs and lows of our emotions could lead to a deeper connection within the team.
So, why should you consider changing your mindset?
Because you have the chance to create an environment where people feel welcomed – and naturally they will invest themselves more than you could ever pay for. You also keep high potential talents who walk through a tough time in their life instead of losing high class colleagues due to a missinterpreted understanding of heroism.
So, now that you want to change, let’s examine in Part 2, how can you change your company culture. (Part 2 will be released on Monday, 18. Jan 2021))