So I read this article the other day. Something in it really resonated with me both positively and negatively. It was about the way in which internal organization culture can either allow for healthy free-expression and open contribution to the overall dynamics within the company, or on the other hand, stifle healthy growth and feed the stagnating walls of an internal echo chamber.
In a positive way, I recognize the ideal of on employer soliciting open commentary and discussion on operational concerns and management decisions. I believe that attentive and vibrant employers want to gather as much information as they possibly can. Even if the news is not all “warm and fuzzy.” Especially if it’s not good news! Organizations that are able to quickly adjust and make corrections are the one’s that employees want to work at, and people will give their valuable time and energy to. This is especially true when employers are able to express gratitude for feedback, even when it doesn’t necessarily lead to envisioned change.
On the flip side, is a quagmire of resentment, and low-performing busyness that saps employees energy and swamps companies productivity. I’ve worked in places where no-one said anything to their managers about operations simply because they wanted to just keep their job. I’ve watched people slip into a zombie-like state of complacency and distrust when they perceive that their opinion and input is worthless to their employer. It’s pure, soul-crushing anguish to work in such an environment.
Here’s the thing. At the very least, I do not want to have any resentment for an employer. Should I want to aim higher than a “no resentment” workplace? Would I wan’t to work in an environment where my concerns could be voiced, and considered by my supervisor? Do I wan’t to work in a place where I feel valued and respected? Do I crave to feel a sense of loyalty from my employer as much as for them? Of course. We all would! Only the not-thinking, “I’m here only for the paycheck” types have ideals lower than these.
However, there is danger in not aiming high enough. A low view of the work-place honesty/loyalty matrix is a blight, and ultimately very dangerous to the health of an organization.
For employees, it can lead to passive (or even passive-aggressive) relationships with co-workers and supervisors. Responsiveness and attentiveness to work issues and duties will inevitably wane. An overall disillusionment with the job, the manager, or the organization will kill any intrinsic benefit from the work.
Employers have a greater responsibility to monitor the internal climate and foster an environment that is conducive to the loyalty/honesty matrix. Failure to do so, will tend towards tyrannical management styles either by force of (poor) character or by proxy through a lack of relationship with the employees. The resentment and distrust that this breeds is downright toxic.
The simple answer flows in two directions. Employers should honor and foster employee honesty, regardless of what arrises from honest, constructive feedback. Employees have always wanted loyal employers. They yearn to share their thoughts, opinions and expertise without fear of reprisal or marginalization. There is a maturity and flourishing that blossoms in places that follow this model. My hope is that we could all be working in such a place one day.