I’m (finally!) circling back around to Joe Berkowitz’s statement:
There is no template for how to be a good man in the #MeToo era.
I said that respect provided that template. (And, we can say “good people” instead of only men because abuse of power is not limited to men. See Power, Management, and Harassment: It’s a Cultural Problem.)
Here’s the kicker:
The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate. — Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker
Gruenert and Whitaker were talking specifically about schools, and I find their observation relevant for workplaces.
When we tolerate abuse of title-based power, we create an unsafe environment for everyone. Too often, the managers don’t know about an unsafe environment because it’s not safe enough for anyone to complain about the problems. That creates a feedback loop that encourages the power abusers and discourages the people without power.
One way to see problems is to look for the “revolving door” problem. People arrive in a team, department or product line, and they (all) leave within a year or two. That’s very long as a feedback loop, but you can see it.
Instead, consider how you can be part of the organization that creates and reinforces an organizational culture that assumes adults, responsible adults, work there. We can then ask that everyone work as a professional.
Professionals respect themselves and each other. See Organizations Are Not Families, Part 1 for more. I’m using the definition of respect meaning consideration and regard.
Professionals build physical and psychological safety for themselves and each other. See Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 2.
Managers must also be professionals. Professional management has a responsibility for respectful interactions with people in Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 3.
A culture of respect can help diverse teams succeed. Otherwise, I find it too likely that the “diverse” people find themselves at the bottom of the power chain. See Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 4.
We can ask people in love or lust to act as professionals. See Respect and Romance in Organizations, Part 5.
If we start with consideration for others and creating a comfortable work environment where people can feel safe, we might have a start on the answer for the answer on how to be a good person in the #MeToo era.
Organizations are not families. We expect different kinds of relationships with the people in our families (and with close friends) than we expect at work. Our families have a different culture (and should!) than our workplaces.
Schein said that culture is what we can discuss, what we reward, and how we treat each other. Respect plays into each of these. If we can discuss unsafe environments, if we don’t reward abuse of power and reward people who speak up, and if we treat each other with respect, we have a culture of adults who can succeed.
Managers can lead that culture reinforcement by considering all three of these pieces of culture. I find that assuming servant leadership, creating a culture of respect, works. Even if you’re not a perfect manager.
It’s not easy. It’s necessary.
A list of these posts (and I’ll update all of them with all the links):
- Organizations Are Not Families, Part 1. Why the metaphor of family-as-org demeans the people working there.
- Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 2, had some ideas for building respect in terms of physical and psychological safety.
- Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 3 is about respect in management interactions with people.
- Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 4is about the organization’s policies treating people with respect.
- Respect and Romance in Organization, Part 5 is a little about love, sex and how to manage them at work.
Thanks for hanging in there with me while I wrote these. Please do comment because I am learning from your comments, too.