Right, you think, managers and achieving organizational excellence is probably the usual piece on why people matter, how to be a good manager, and so on. Well, not quite. Yes, people do matter and being a good manager can save organizations so much money and drama. I was inspired this week to write from a different angle during an important event related to diversity&inclusion in the armed forces organized by GMF, WIIS Brussels and Euromil. A quote by one of the speakers and eloquently described by the fantastic Teri Schultz is at the heart of my inspiration for this blog:

If someone purposely damaged an airplane, they would immediately be stopped. When problems with diversity are pointed out, which is also considered mission “sabotage,” that’s often repelled as damaging to the organization.

Hearing this, I had my aha moment because, throughout my career, I faced many situations where my performance or work was deliberately sabotaged or taken credit for. Those who know me, know I am pretty resilient and thick-skinned, and my Dutch side always prevails. But it got to me, and often I just wanted to cry, and we all know that’s not an option. God forbid women show their emotions at work, run for the door!  However,  my peers and superiors always kept saying be strong, don’t let them get to you, people will still be jealous the higher you go and so on. But why are those that are purposely trying to undermine effective teamwork and top performers in an organization not held accountable? Why are managers not publicly vowing for a zero-tolerance policy and take visible and concrete measures to create a safe environment for people to thrive and achieve organizational excellence without fear or repercussions? It is widely recognized that diverse teams from all backgrounds and strata of society are more productive, produce better results and increase organizational effectiveness. These same people often face all types of sabotaging from peers and managers.

This type of misbehavior affects many talented staff members who are likely to suffer burn-out, depression and have low-morale at work.

Three things you can do now

This needs to change, and if you are a manager or in a position of authoritative power, you can start with :

  1. Zero tolerance policy

Set and promote a zero-tolerance policy for intentional misbehavior that is sabotaging effective teamwork to the detriment of the organization. Hold those accountable for their actions and relieve the pressure on those employees who are faced with misconduct from others on a daily basis. Create a safe environment and allow them to put forward their issues anonymously without fear of repercussions.

  1. Education, Education, Education

Often people are not even aware they are misbehaving or the potential detrimental effect they have on their colleagues. There is a myriad of training modules and classes on all types of harassment and unconscious bias related to diversity and collaboration with not-like-minded people. In most companies, this training is mandatory. Ensure they become mainstream in your organization both for newcomers and provide refreshers courses on a yearly basis. Trust me; it will save you a lot of heartache down the road with this critical upfront investment in educating others.

  1. Walk the talk

Finally, for employees to trust you and believe your actions will make a difference, walk the talk. Make sure your words reflect your efforts, hold those who undermine organizational excellence accountable and invest in your people. Invest in your talent, identify those high performers who are waiting to break through but are running into a glass ceiling. Demonstrate you mean what you say and that you do care about people by walking the talk. In my organization, we are fortunate as our General Manager made this his top priority and is walking the talk. Because if the highest leader is not driving this top-down first, bottom-up will not feel empowered to follow suit.


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