“To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”

Winston Churchill

Out with the Old,

In with Positive Change

In generations past, there may have been a tacit acceptance of the fact that when entering a career or continuing one’s education there would be a gauntlet to run. The expectation that new team members would need to endure a sort of initiation or quasi-hazing seemed an accepted part of the game.

The existence of systems, occurring without nurturing or support, to simply see if one has “what it takes” are completely contrary to the objective of the successful organization. Without intervention, such behaviors are likely to perpetuate.

Fortunately for all concerned, the collective societal recognition that such pointless rituals and unproductive behavior do nothing to further the goals of a highly functioning organization is clear. Such expectations are now the norm for our workplaces and schools.

Yet, it is an important understanding that such foolish “traditions” are actually deeply embedded in many organizations, and continue to occur.

A Dangerous Tradition

Self-anointed keepers of the “we do it to them because someone did it to us” utilize their positional authority to perpetuate such “traditions”.

It is not only in the interest of the leader to confront and stop such behavior from a legal exposure perspective; from an organizational health vantage point, putting an end to this behavior is the first step in moving toward a culture of authentic support and teamwork.

If a business espouses a culture of support and caring, only to have their team members experience hazing at the hands of co-workers, the message of teamwork will ring false. The result will be an undercurrent of dissonance and frustration at the tacit acceptance of contradictory behaviors. While such behavior is neither requisite nor conducive to a professional atmosphere, in many instances, leaders are unwilling to have the hard conversation, especially if it is with a team member who is otherwise very productive.

Setting Clear Expectations

In the professional setting, an awareness by leaders that such non-productive hierarchical constructs are a detriment is essential.

A welcoming, nurturing, inclusive, and positive environment where one enters as a full member of the team should be considered a cornerstone of company culture.

A working environment that is very clear on operating norms, cycles of honest feedback, and modes of expected professional behavior must be the baseline for any organizational culture.

Leaders must be prepared and willing to challenge the notion that there is any place in a high-functioning organization for the pointless, non-productive “traditions” of the past.

Why it Matters

As team members ponder the question, in what professional environment they would like to be employed? Very quickly the thought of navigating pointless steps to initiation in the company culture is rightly seen as absurd.

When leaders consider that the same time could be applied to the growth and acquisition of needed skills, enculturation of a positive and supportive team, or a project which actually adds to the productivity group, the answer becomes very clear. It has no place at all.

Breaking the cycle for the benefit of all takes the strength of committed leadership. If the team one is joining has created a culture of acceptance, professional support, and caring for its newest members, then they are much more likely to thrive.

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