Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"People Need To Speak Up!"

Our store is getting its 3rd Store Director in 3 years. It seems this job is the kiss of death. The store has gotten progressively worse because the 2nd Store Director really abused her authority and demoralized most of the staff. She was also guilty of retaliating against workers by pinpointing who she simply didn't like and openly talking about "running them out." Yes, many of them were fired. We're still living with her legacy.

Some of the younger workers were talking about the impending arrival of our new director, when one of them said, "People need to speak up. When this guy comes in and asks how things are, they need to tell the truth. If everyone sits there lying, nothing is going to get any better. They want to complain and complain, but when someone asks what's going on, they just smile and say every thing's fine."

Truer words were never spoken!

This is how it is, particularly in environments that might be hostile or, more specifically, racially hostile. The natural reaction is to try to make yourself invisible and hope people don't see you or attack you. You think that you'll come to work, mind your business, do what you have to do, and leave at the end of the day. But, if someone has other plans for you, like leaving a noose at your workstation, it kind of throws a monkey wrench in those plans.

Even if the problem isn't racial and it's just one of those demoralizing and poisonous environments that can be found at many a job, there's always a point when people can speak up and let someone know that what they are experiencing just doesn't feel good.

Now, speaking up isn't always a magic bullet. Some managers and higher-ups want to know there is an issue so they can investigate and decide if there's a larger problem (like under staffing and overworking staff or a manager that is disrespectful and incompetent). No matter what the problem is, it is always better to do your part and let someone know something is wrong.

It's not fair to complain if you aren't going to speak up. If you want to suffer in silence, you should do just that. Keep your mouth closed and your head down. But, if you want to run all over your workplace griping and complaining--even legitimately--then the least you can do is report that there's an issue.

It's even better if you could offer solutions or suggestions!!

What management does after that is up to them. Some may be responsible and others may choose to ignore what they're being told. But, you should give people the opportunity to do the right thing. Then you'll know how to proceed.

Do you want to pursue it? Do you want to go up the chain of command? Should you speak to HR or corporate? You can't figure this out until you try to fix it by speaking up.

Any investigator or lawyer worth their salt will ask you who you spoke to about your issue. If the answer is, "Nobody!," it will be hard to be taken seriously!! There can be no remedy if there isn't a problem. Now, you might argue that a problem is so obvious and pervasive that management had to have known it existed. This is true. But, why not take that argument away and have at least one conversation reporting any abuses and asking for things to get better?

As my coworker said, "People need to speak up!"

What's stopping you?


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