Different strokes at the workplace

16 Oct 2018 / 20:36 H.

    BOTH mainstream and social media made a video of a woman boss telling off her staff viral recently.
    Okay, so "telling off" is a mild way of describing screaming her head off and going completely ballistic with these two ostensibly underperforming staff members.
    So, netizens were pretty split about the whole issue.
    While the telco employer took action by suspending the screaming boss indefinitely (according to news reports), some netizens stood up for her and pointed out that she wouldn't have reacted that way if her staff had actually done what they were supposed to do.
    What interested me more about the issue was how all the human resource (HR) folk were busy jotting down their own ideas on LinkedIn about how this situation should have been handled.
    One in particular wrote about how corporates need to have "harassment-free" policies and how leaders should be approachable and lead the way to a harassment-free workplace, the usual corporate rhetoric.
    I personally have worked in many corporations, from small partnerships to large international companies. One thing I have learnt is that they have all kinds of policies (yes, even the sole proprietorship I worked in had "policies") but these policies are either hidden and nobody knows about it or everyone knows about it but know it's only lip-service or they know the policies are bendable to the will of those in power.
    How in the world are you going to teach adults not to harass other adults?
    Bullying is taught from a very young age, in fact from parent to child.
    Alternatively, how is a corporation to teach its staff to take a step back, evaluate themselves internally, perhaps do some internal stress management, and not go ballistic on their underlings? These kind of skills or qualities take years to develop, would corporate HR policies be the answer?
    I admit there was one place I worked at that had the best empathetic employers ever (aside from myself, for whom I now work). When someone came in late, it was never, "Why are you late? You know you got so much work to do. Now you have to stay late to finish everything off, I don't care".
    Instead, if someone was late, there was a mad scramble to see if someone in the office could get in touch with the latecomer to find out if he or she was okay, and not in an accident or a ditch somewhere.
    This kind of attitude wasn't instilled in HR policy but the human beings that were the bosses.
    It was carried out by them and everyone felt a little more valued and willing to go the extra mile. It wasn't just dollars and cents, which most corporations make it out to be.
    From these good employers, I decided I needed to try something new and "more exciting" and joined a multinational company with chuck loads of HR policies that only an elite few had the privilege to use. And we were valued by how much time we sat at our desk, whether or not we were productive.
    Being a caring human being needs to start from the top, preferably from the parent to the child. And it's not just words, it is actions as well. It also needs to come from the bosses as well.
    When I was a chambering student, I recall during the Reformasi movement how it was said that the FRU were around in town, and people were concerned about their well-being.
    Our boss took off at 4pm in his car, because he was worried. When we asked if we could leave early too (keeping in mind most of us took the public bus – no LRT, MRT or monorail at that time), his response was, "Oh ... no lah, you stay here and finish your work first".
    As for the woman who went ballistic in the video, I just hope that maybe there will be paths open to her to learn how to distance herself from her negative emotions, whether it be rage, anger or frustration. Surely that one moment wasn't worth the repercussions?
    Comments: letters@thesundaily.com


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