From ‘I’ to ‘We’ – A positive culture can’t survive if there is no sense of team

How do you create a culture of engagement, high employee morale, great retention of good staff when for decades all the workplace legislation that has been published in the UK relates to Individual Rights, rather than the Rights of the team or group?

How does it work in your family or friendship group? Do you all muck in, sometimes giving and sometimes taking, but by and large it all works out pretty evenly, or do you have certain relatives or friends where its all take, leaving others in the group to be the ones who incessantly ‘give’?

My real wish would be for the government to set out a ‘responsibility’ alongside every ‘right’ it confers.

A few examples:

…you have the right to 12 months maternity leave but when asserting your right to this you need to be able to demonstrate you have done whatever is in your power to do to ensure that you have minimised the impact on both the business and your colleagues.

…you have the right to raise a grievance, but in asserting that right you have a responsibility to manage your complaint (the tone of language used and the examples given) in a way that demonstrates your consideration for the wellbeing of those drawn into your complaint – management, colleagues, witnesses etc.

…you have the right to a workplace free of harassment, but in asserting that right you have a responsibility to ensure your own behaviour is not equally harassing of others i.e. don’t accuse others of shouting if you have been aggressive in your response to that or don’t accuse others of mocking your regional accent if at times you have mocked others too.

…you have the right to safe place of work, but you have an equal responsibility to operate in a way that ensures it is kept safe for others too. (i.e. don’t complain of a trip hazard left by a colleague if you then phone a colleague knowing they are driving and with the full intention of disrupting them from the road with your call).

It is simply not possible to have a world where everyone has rights but no responsibilities. The assertion of individual rights without consideration for the business or colleagues causes immense upset in organisations. Imagine if you every time you recruited your person spec identified you were looking for people who are ‘selfish and self absorbed’. What sort of culture would you create? One that would make you market leaders, one that would give you a sustainable business in difficult economic times, one that others would seek to join? No – selfishness and self absorption driven by the endless assertion of individual rights without consideration of others causes nothing but damage and stress in teams.

The government though will never publish any ‘Responsibilities’. It will never pass a law requiring employees to act like ‘adults’ rather than ‘spoilt children’. So, my recommendation to you would be to beef up your policies around professional behaviour in the workplace, bring those Responsibilities in yourself and set them out very clearly in writing. Seek to integrate high personal levels of Responsibility within your culture. And as part of this I would recommend that every single D&I workshop you run in your businesses dedicates as much time to talking about Responsibilities as to talking about Rights. I would recommend too training your managers up so that in their reviews with staff the focus is as much on adult professional behaviour in the workplace as it is on completion of tasks, for there is nothing that impacts staff retention as much as people feeling put upon or taken advantage of – especially by colleagues who are regularly allowed to get away with it.

This is a personal blog written by Helen Jamieson. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Jaluch Ltd. The views and opinions posted in response to this blog are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Helen Jamieson or Jaluch Ltd. Jaluch Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of the information within this blog.

 

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