Let’s Talk About Shame

Let’s Talk About Shame

“Are you intentionally trying to destroy this company?”

You slump further into your chair, staring down at your shoes as Adam, your boss, glares across the conference table. Adam probes again: “Are you? Or are you just an idiot? How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

You open your mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. You can’t feel your fingers.

You can barely breathe.

The room was painfully silent.

The five other men and women gathered around the table nervously shifted in their seats, boring holes in their notepads, as the silence continued to thicken.

Adam stood up.“Get out of this room. I cannot have idiots on my team, and we can all agree here… together…that you are an idiot. You are the worst mistake I’ve made in the last 14 years of building this company.”

Shame. Everyone has it. No one likes to talk about it. It affects everything that we do.

Have you ever worked in an environment that’s controlled or dominated by fear?

If you’re not sure, consider some of these questions:

  • Am I consistently afraid of not doing a good enough job?
  • Am I worried that my Manager or colleague is going to ridicule me?
  • Am I nervous that I am going to be undermined in a call or meeting?
  • Am I concerned that I’ll be blamed?
  • Is the value I put on myself (my self-worth) tied to achievement, productivity, or compliance?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may be caught in a work environment that uses fear to control, manage, or ‘motivate’.

It’s incredibly damaging. Shame crushes creativity, innovation, courage, and learning.

In her book, Daring Greatly, research professor at the University of Houston, Brené Brown says this about the subject:

Shame is the fear of disconnection. We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging…is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

While the story above is a dramatic case, these types of interactions happen in offices, cubicles, and around water-coolers all across the world.

They might not look the exact same. They might be more subtle or subdued:

  • Highlighting top performers in the company…and bottom performers
  • Criticism in the presence of other co-workers
  • Belittling of new ideas, projects, or initiatives
  • Blame: an inability to take personal ownership for failure

We have all experienced shame in our lives, in one place or another. It could be at your current job, or past job, or with friends – and even family.

This week, take some time to sit with some of the questions that shine a light on shame, and consider were in your life you’ve experienced shame before.

We’ll dive in next week on how to get a handle on it!

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Defining Shame

 

As a part of jumping into company culture – we want to take a step back and first define shame.

We’d encourage you to watch Brené Brown’s Ted Talk on Shame (above), as we will use this as a launching pad to talk about shame in the work place in the next few weeks!

Let us know your thoughts on Brené Brown’s research, and we look forward to digging deeper in the next few weeks!

Among the Best: Taking a Look at Company Culture

 

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Company Culture.

It’s such a prevalent topic of our conversations about the workplace today. We all talk / write / philosophize about that perfect company culture; the one we, our competitors, or our luminaries should have.

But – what is it, really?

It’s so much more than the passion or vision statement on the wall. It’s comprised by the people who enter our office doors, and the decisions that we make every day. It’s our value-system, and is not to be underestimated. It’s how the world perceives us, more likely why, our company does business.

Company culture is what we stand for.

As a growing population of millennials enter the workforce, a company’s culture is highly scrutinized by these prospective employees. As cited in Fast Company’s article, What Millennial Employees Really Want, Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial survey found that 64% of Millennials find that their personal values have the greatest influence on their decision making.

Need more data? They also found that those who share an organization’s values, are more satisfied with their organization’s sense of purpose, and are more likely to stick around in an organization. Out of all of those surveyed, 2 out of every 3 millennials planned to leave their current employer by 2020.

These figures shouldn’t be very surprising. What they show is that company leaders need to carefully examine the culture cultivated within their organizations in order to attract the best talent and then retain them over the longterm.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a few different aspects and problems often found in organizations today — some positive and some that are rarely discussed. The application of these topics can be applied to large global organizations, or to individual teams within companies.

It only takes one leader, positively influencing those around them, to start a cultural shift from one “norm” to the next.

 

1 https://www.fastcompany.com/3046989/what-millennial-employees-really-want
https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html