I am not calling for anyone to act as if this was the cold war of the 40s thru the 90s! I don’t want anyone sneaking around and informing on everything that a co-worker may do wrong. I’ve been around that far too many times in my career. On the other hand you have to believe that someone snitching on someone else is not always a childish thing to do.
Snitching has become a dirty word, but is it deserved? In 99% of all cases it isn’t. But a minority of people have convinced the majority that it is bad. From teenagers, and adults, refusing to rat out a so called friend on a rape or murder charge they witnessed to trying to tell the employer about an employee nearly ready to explode with anger.
You must remember that everything someone tells you about a co-worker isn’t just snitching. This isn’t kindergarten where Susie tattletales that Jimmy put a bug in her water bottle. The kind of snitching I’m talking about is about, potentially, life and death. At the very least cuts, bruises, and potentially trauma that will last a life time.
This little blue marble is not in a fantasy but real. Sometimes that reality includes the unfortunate nature of humans committing workplace violence (WPV) and murder. And because it’s real the hardships that WPV incurs on everyone is also real and last for a lifetime in some cases. From the emotional trauma to families caused by the death of a loved one to the financial and public relations difficulties endured by the company.
How many of you remember the cliché that came out of the Japanese re-birth after WWII in their economy: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down”. And this leads us to the root of one aspect of WPV that may not be thought about and either denied or ignored by most managers and the C-suite.
Because of your corporate culture, we may not be empowering our employees, and even our supervisory/managerial staff to be, using another old cliché, out-of-the-box thinker. Yet another cliché is ‘walk the walk and talk the talk. Far too many companies can talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk when it comes to WPV and encouraging snitching.
Managers at a higher pay grade, those at General Manager or higher, often believed that the rules didn’t apply to them at all, which did nothing in trying to encourage snitching and open communications. I had a few client contacts in my early years that actually listened to employees and had open door policies. A couple even walked onto the production floors and talked to the employees when they wanted to discover what was making the place tick.
Carole Vollintine, Jack Carmony, Charley Rhein, and a few others truly walked the walk as well talked the talk. They were open, honest, and encouraged discussion with anyone who wanted to talk. And they weren’t above going around corporate policy if it needed an adjustment because it didn’t fit the situation.
And while they weren’t perfect, they were some of the best managers I ever worked for. Mainly because they fostered that open discussion of ideas and issues. And that is what is so often missing from today’s corporate cultures. We communicate from the top down and are too regulated in many circumstances we can’t openly communicate with each other, be that with a co-worker or management.
But what can companies do to foster the open communication AND trust that is so vital in preventing WPV and encouraging employees to snitch? Here are a few ideas to start with, utilized by the managers above and myself:
- Be as honest as possible
You have to be as honest as you can possibly be with your subordinates. This isn’t to say that you need to tell them everything… but you must keep them informed, and don’t let them find out via the grape vine, which does nothing but foster innuendo, conspiracy theories, and mistrust
- Be open to all new ideas,
Don’t have a Not Invented Here attitude with your subordinates. Let the information and great ideas flow both up & down the corporate lines of communication. What does it hurt to look at the idea?
- Never let them sit and stew
Never let the employees sit and stew for a long time while making a decision. Some decisions obviously take time, but… Attempt to keep them informed at every opportunity what is happening, if you know. If you haven’t been told…then say so.
If you can do these little things and keep the lines of communication open, then you can nurture good communication between layers of the company. If you can get employees to trust you by being honest and open, as possible within the company, you just may get a heads up from a snitch if a problem is brewing.
I’ve also known some supervisors who employees came to with everything, from personal issues to work related items. Some of those employees were under someone else’s direction, but they didn’t trust them enough to handle the situation. Are you like that and if so, why?
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I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear