Consider the examples of negative workplace interactions you’ve probably experienced in your career.
- An unconventional idea gets punished.
- A call from the boss is assumed to be an admonishment.
- A minority opinion is dismissed or marginalized.
- The excitement of innovation is dampened by the discomfort of others.
- Different perspectives are experienced as threats to the status quo.
- Change is resisted.
- Respect, trust, wellness, and psychological safety can’t be counted on.
These are the markers of dysfunctional organizations. If the leadership team comes from a dysfunctional background, the symptoms become normalized and, unfortunately, not experienced as a problem at all. The culture attracts more of the same. Sickness gets reinforced again and again instead of wellness. Worse yet, no one acknowledges the pain.
Because pain is familiar. Struggle is expected. Work is not supposed to be fun, energizing, and collaborative. You’re supposed to brace yourself on Sunday night to endure Monday, and then spend the rest of the week looking forward to Friday. You scramble to pack the weekend with enough rejuvenating activity to be able to stomach the next Sunday night realization that you have to do it again.
The solution to this cycle is to break it completely. Shed the normalization of deviance from the culture. Expect healthy relationships and functional teams instead. Realizing that having a history of trauma does not give you permission to traumatize others. Every workplace, like every family, should aspire to become healthier than its role models.