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Speaking Up, Staying Put or Getting Out

Posted Apr 21 2009 11:35pm

I' ve studied and experienced workplace dynamics and cultures and have only come across really deep system-wide dysfunction twice in my career.  Once in a client organization and the second as an employee.  The former is now being forced to change (after many unfortunate years), because we all know that if you won' t do it on your own, sooner or later someone will be brought in to do it for you.  The latter is unfortunately, just as it was back then.

So, I found the article Speaking Up, Staying Put or Getting Out in H&HN to be a refreshing overview of the options employees face.  These are the same options I had to consider once in my career and I believe choosing to speak up, while preparing to get out was the right thing to do for both myself and my co-workers. 

I risked speaking up, because that is the only way to find out if real change is truly desired, or whether the ineffective leader(s) is moving through the motions to look the part.  Speaking up in a respectful manner does help improve the situation, but sometimes only for those you leave behind.  Most importantly, it provides a release for you as you navigate the turbulence of the dysfunctional work environment. 

Staying put (and shutting up) can be emotionally frustrating and difficult over long periods of time.  But, for the right person, in the right place at the right time, it can be a workable alternative.  It just wouldn' t work for people who are really passionate - like me.

Getting out is the hardest, but the most important when you realize that change isn' t likely anytime soon.  The decision to get out should be viewed as a process and may in fact result in an emotional exit prior to the physical act of leaving.  In my case, it was a process and involved preparing myself and others for the day when I was gone.  In the end, I am relieved and it is somewhat better for those I left behind.

My challenge is to healthcare and other leaders to avoid toxic work environments.  But if you find that you already have one, to be strong enough to listen, call it what it is and effect the needed change.  This is how leaders truly realize success and reach their goals - financial or otherwise!

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