Objectivity and subjectivity, like Antarctica and the Arctic Circle, have existed at opposite ends of the spectrum and are as different as the poles in which they reside. They are forced to interact because they are connected by a large land mass and, from that standpoint cannot operate independent of one another. In that same vein, can one’s attitude (mindset) operate independent of one’s behavior? The expanding social landscape has revealed some sinkholes that, if left unaddressed, may result in behavior that, firmly, places a ‘t’ between the ‘s’ and the ‘i’ and creates a climate in which obvious lies are portrayed as ‘brutal’ truths and common respect for individual existence becomes a common disregard for human connection.
Life, inside organizations, mimics the external environment in many ways. While it is always the edict that organizations function efficiently if employees would just leave their personal issues in the parking lot, the elongated days and gray line evenings make it, increasingly, difficult to discern when the blue-lighted digital numbers are signaling that it is time to shut down. In essence, it points to having very little room in which to disguise an attitude that is not reflected of behavior. When a self-avowed racist operates within a position of authority or a self-proclaimed homophobic is part of an employees’ path to promotion is there an internal mechanism that allows that individual to move pass their subjectivity and evaluate performance based on its merits? When we design performance management systems, it is done with an eye toward measuring what we see and what has been accomplished based on a scale that leans toward the objective criteria and just a hint of subjective assessment. But, the tone of the behavioral landscape points to a greater tolerance, if not wholly acceptable, measure of ‘attitude’ driving the assessment of individual performance and positional authority has being absolute in its final decree. While the existence of this kind of mindset has been a prevailing part of the human experience for centuries, there were many who believed that its existence had been, by legislation or societal maturity, moved into the shadows and replaced with a need to expand human connection for the betterment of all. If one finds truth in the quote ‘what exists in the shadows will come to the light’, then what we may be experiencing is the reemergence of the centuries old notions that human beings weren’t created equal and, thus, need not be treated with any level of equality, much less humanity.
The workplace consumes a lot of individual time and energy and it is the belief that with exposure, experience and good leadership, this ‘secondary’ home can provide a safe haven away from the negative influences that can affect individual productivity. However, one of the issues that have created havoc with HR and Legal staff is the notion that the right to say what you want is in conflict with the responsibility that comes with the things that were said. Blatant disregard for what one says, and to whom, is a clear reflection of an attitude and not, really, subject to social judgment. Yet, as the incidents increase, one wonders if the political landscape, the ‘Judge’ shows, the verbal rants of radio icons or the devil have issued a 00Severe license to Will one’s attitude in a way that shatters the silence at the expense of the silent and productive. Conversations that connect individuals across the boundaries of the work place have been the primary determinant of long-term organizational success. When people have to talk through a common experience, it unites the soul along a common path. Individual existence hinges on the drive to be successful and inspire the success in others. Toward that end, it is in the best interest of organizations to uphold principles of ‘engaged dialogue’ so as not to succumb to ‘attitudinal disregard.’ Let’s talk!!
By guest blogger, Lee Meadows, PhD
Dr. Meadows is a professor at Walsh College, teaching online and on-ground management and MBA courses. In addition, Dr. Meadows is a keynote speaker, training and development consultant, and motivational speaker for corporate and community groups and professional associations.
In 2006, Dr. Meadows published “Take the Lull by the Horns: Closing the Leadership Gap”. He is also the author of numerous articles on leadership, management, diversity, career paths and projections and education.