In generations past, many team members accepted that, upon beginning their careers or continuing their educations, they’d have to run a type of gauntlet. Enduring initiations or quasi-bullying seemed an accepted part of the game. Instead of providing support, systems frequently existed to perpetuate a trial-by-fire mentality.
Fortunately, this is changing.
People are beginning to realize these pointless rituals and unproductive behaviors do nothing to further the goals of a highly functioning organization. Unfortunately, such foolish traditions are often deeply embedded within the fabric of many companies and, despite evolving understandings, continue to occur.
Perhaps you’ve experienced the way self-anointed keepers utilize their positional authority to perpetuate these traditions. They argue that, “We do it to them because someone did it to us.” Perhaps you’ve even fallen into these traps yourself.
“Hazing is an extraordinary activity that, when it occurs often enough, becomes perversely ordinary as those who engage in it grow desensitized to its inhumanity.” – Hank Nuwer, journalist
Moving Toward a Culture of Authentic Support and Teamwork
As a leader, it’s in your best interest to confront and stop these behaviors. Not only from a legal exposure perspective but also from the vantage point of organizational health.
Your business cannot espouse a culture of support and caring while team members experience bullying at the hands of their coworkers. This results in messaging that rings false and creates undercurrents of dissonance and frustration.
The tacit acceptance of contradictory behaviors will undermine your efforts and you must be willing to have the hard conversations, especially if it is with team members who are otherwise very productive. Ineffective hierarchical constructs are a detriment.
“When you hand good people possibility, they do great things.” – Biz Stone, entrepreneur
Rather, a welcoming, nurturing, inclusive, and positive environment, where everyone enters as a full member of the team, should be a cornerstone of company culture. The baseline for any organizational culture should also:
- Be extremely clear on operating norms
- Commit to cycles of honest feedback
- Establish modes of expected professional behavior
As a leader, you must be prepared and willing to challenge the pointless, nonproductive traditions of the past.
Spending Time on What Really Matters
Imagine for a moment what sort of professional environment your team members would prefer to work within. Do you think they’d actually want to navigate pointless initiation steps to become part of the company culture? They’d likely find the idea absurd.
Time spent on such rituals would be better applied to the growth and acquisition of needed skills, enculturation into a positive and supportive team, or even a project adding to the productivity of the group. Isn’t the answer clear? There’s no place for intimidation.
Breaking the Cycle
Without strong, committed leadership, there’s no chance of breaking the cycle. It’s time to create a culture of acceptance and professional support, one that cares for its newest members. That way everyone is far more likely to thrive and remain with your organization for a long time to come.
Are you ready for a whole new perspective on leadership? Get in touch now!
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.