Forget me, not

I’ve heard various stories throughout my career that really highlight why, as leaders, we need to ensure that we are open and honest with our teams, why we need to show we are available to listen and why bringing humanity to our roles is so important.

When we went into lockdown and started working from home the world of work changed forever. People were isolated from their colleagues and the only contact was through a box on a screen. Teams had to find new ways to work effectively. We all know this took some working out.

Many employees felt abandoned. Organisations were having to grapple with so many ‘firsts’ that they forgot about those who make an organisation function effectively – its people. What worries me is that some organisations haven’t changed.

Your team are the most important asset you have. You need to nurture them, support them and allow them to shine. Let’s not forget that without them you can’t do what you need to do, you can’t function effectively without them. If an employee leaves it puts added pressure on the rest of your team who put extra pressure on you.

A story I heard recently was about a person who had been working at an organisation for many years. She had a great relationship with her co-workers and enjoyed what she did. When she first started the organisation had about 200 employees and as she had been there for a number of years, she knew almost everyone there. The organisation was very successful and grew quite rapidly. Lots of new people joined new offices opened. But she noticed that the company had started to lose its ethos, it was becoming less and less human. She had a doctor’s appointment one day and left work ten minutes early. While she was out of the office her manager sent an email round to the team saying if anyone had an appointment, they needed to tell the rest of the team and get permission to attend if it meant having to leave the office during work hours. She had of course previously told her team and her manager.

The next day her manager called her into a meeting. Told her that her behaviour was unacceptable. She tried to explain but her manager wasn’t listening. Her manager didn’t even ask her if she was ok. She’d been to see a doctor for a reason but that didn’t matter to her manager, reprimanding her for leaving ten minutes early was all she was concerned about.

I’ve heard lots of stories like this, where leadership teams have lost their humanity. They cut themselves off and feel their behaviour demands respect. They leave their humanity at home and become almost robotic in the workplace. Leaders, don’t forget we are all human, don’t forget we all need support at times, don’t forget to lead by example. Whatever else you might forget, forget me, not.

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