We all have those moments at our jobs; in our teams. Mutual understanding about each person’s strengths and weaknesses navigates the team through shifts in the industry landscape and large projects that stretch each person to their limits. The flow of the office makes it feel like a second home and a second family.
Until one day.
This Staff Member Struggled
It may be a new hire entering the workplace, a shift in the workforce that adds a new team member to the mix, or a change in leadership causing the work culture to shift in a way that one of your teammates does not approve. No matter what the case may be, your teammate, new or old, now has one main feat to overcome. Above and beyond the orientation process for new staff, learning new vernacular, and finding a way to keep their head above water with their tasks, this individual must now discover how they fit into the team system.
For the majority of staff in the past, the process was smooth; with only a few speed bumps. However, this staff member struggled. Greatly. The struggle became so unbearable that the other members of the team began to feel it.
The Effect of One Person
It can be stunning how much impact one individual’s struggles can impact the entire team system. As a leader, you may ask yourself if you made the right choices, or if this struggling individual is speaking the truth that no one else wants to hear.
Your certainty about your place as a supervisor may falter, making you question even your own abilities. You may even begin to wonder if the culture you have fostered and nurtured is as healthy as you think it is. In these moments, the last thing that will help you is to feed into those thoughts.
Don’t take a teammate’s struggle with the workplace culture as evidence of an unhealthy environment. Rather, use it as an opportunity to confirm that your purpose is still clear and that the team is still functioning on the same wavelength. If you find that adjustment is required to reconnect with your company’s purpose, then appreciate the staff for bringing the issue to light and respond accordingly to rectify the issue. However, if you find that, outside of this one employee, the company continues to thrive, then act as a support for this struggling individual in their discovery that they will be happier in another venture.
If you find that adjustment is required to reconnect with your company’s purpose, then appreciate the staff for bringing the issue to light and respond accordingly to rectify the issue. However, if you find that, outside of this one employee, the company continues to thrive, then act as a support for this struggling individual in their discovery that they will be happier in another venture.
Purpose Creates Passion
When a company is connected to their purpose, passion is produced. This passion causes others to make one of two decisions: Either a) they agree and become likewise empowered by the mission, or b) they disagree and create friction. In the second case, the employee must determine if this friction is something that they can live with and will help them grow, or if the difference is too great and they must part ways. Occasionally, these individuals will become stuck; jaded against a work culture that drains them of their energy. This unwillingness to acknowledge that they are
In the second case, the employee must determine if this friction is something that they can live with and will help them grow, or if the difference is too great and they must part ways. Occasionally, these individuals will become stuck; jaded against a work culture that drains them of their energy. This unwillingness to acknowledge that they are
Occasionally, these individuals will become stuck; jaded against a work culture that drains them of their energy. This unwillingness to acknowledge that they are a better fit elsewhere ends in a resignation that can be painful and challenging to recover from.
How A Leader Should Act
It’s right for a leader to maintain focus in these challenging times. Although disagreement is uncomfortable, it’s better for the company and the employee that both parties remain authentic to themselves; even when it means going their separate ways.
Work cultures willing to disagree foster growth and passion for the work being done. The downside of this authentic workplace culture is that not everyone believes in the same thing. Really, the only way to maintain an agreeable culture is to agree with everything but stand for nothing.
Notice that I described this culture as agreeable but not fulfilling. This is because without standing for something, purpose cannot be realized. We are creatures of purpose so if we took and struggle with no apparent purpose, then there is no fulfillment to be had. Sadly, there are countless companies and relationships that behave in an agreeable manner; stealing away any opportunity for their staff to be fulfilled by the work that they do.
The Trouble With Inauthenticity
Like a budding relationship, the two people are focused solely on getting the other person to like them. So they lie. It’s not to be inauthentic; often it isn’t even realized until later. However, at that point, they have to make a decision to either continue with the charade or risk losing the other person by coming clean.
Many times they fake it because they care more about having the other person like them than being authentic. So goes the life of an agreeable company courting new or struggling employees.
In most ways, these agreeable companies are harder off than the clearly struggling firms. While dysfunction is a sign of an unhealthy business, universal agreeability is a sign of a dead company. Within a struggling agency friction occurs, discussion of the struggles take place, and honest recognition that something needs to change is a daily occurrence. Just as in a healthy company, but perhaps with more wrong turns and off road traveling.
So, if there is a scale from 0-10 (10 being best) where struggling teams, agreeable teams, and healthy teams are ranked, the agreeable team is listed as 0; not the struggling one. This is because struggling teams are past denial and recognize there is dissonance. We don’t fight for one side or another if we are maintaining apathy.
By arguing, we are taking a stand; drawing a line in the sand. If everyone is apathetic toward the issues, then nothing gets done. At least in a dysfunctional system, there is movement; there is passion.
Passion is present in the struggle. When words become sharper, and methods are defended or attacked, passion is permeating the room. When a struggling team is fighting against an issue, an agreeable company doesn’t even realize there is an issue in the first place.
So, use those times when your staff struggles openly as proof of your passion coming to fruition. Determine the health of your company; not by whether or not they argue, but how those arguments take place.
Each company and each team has their own work culture. In these cultures, every employee stands behind the purpose of their work. Not every culture functions the same. And so it is the responsibility of the employee to be honest with themselves – to pursue a culture where they will thrive, and it is the responsibility of the leadership to maintain the wisdom and awareness of the qualities of those who do fit their culture.
Beyond all else, be true to your company’s purpose. It is your compass and your map, steering you toward your final goal.