Being Human in the World of a Corporate Army
In the months following my departure from the Corporate World, I had time to reflect on some of my experiences. This may be nostalgic for many of you.
As mentioned in my previous article on making life changing decisions, the corporate world has a tendency of stripping away your humanity and often we don’t realise this until it is too late. This is based on the adult ego state that removes emotions and focuses on tasks to get the job done.
Many of us often forget that there are many interactions between people in the world of work and not all of these are tasks orientated.
I recall an experience during my 5th year of tenure, when I received a call informing me of a close family members deteriorating health and like a corporate soldier I followed the protocols to inform my leader of said emergency for me to be able to be with my family.
In my efforts to follow protocols, it was time consuming and frustrating as leaders were not easily accessible and I resorted to texting him. The response I received was “Unfortunately the team is under capacity and all hands must be on deck”.
A typical adult comment, with zero acknowledgement of my emotional state and welfare.
I did not respond further and returned to my office with very little focus and attention to the tasks I was working on.
A few hours later, I received an update from my husband whom could not even muster the words through his tears to inform me that he has lost his mum. My mother-in-law was not just an in-law to me but a mother in all aspects.
I was totally devastated and consumed with regret and guilt for not being able to take a few hours away from work to bid farewell to my mother. Furthermore, I was not there for my dear husband, in his most painful moment of his life.
As corporate soldiers, my husband and I pushed aside our feelings and took care of the ceremonial duties and moved on after a few weeks of mourning.
The strangest part of this story, is that it only dawned upon me recently that I reacted to this loss in my family as if it were just another client with the mission to go out and replace the one we lost.
In the corporate world of today, if you should really strip each mission statement down to its bare core, this translates to “MAKE MONEY”.
Many companies have fluffy mission statements and underpinning strategies that are aimed to market themselves in the eye of a potential customer. In essence this is another marketing strategy, unless there is a strong culture that firmly supports these missions.
I know that many of you are probably thinking of examples that you can relate too, but do not judge your leaders too quickly.
I can remember an incident when I as a leader, in which I also pushed my employees to the limits to meet tight deadlines. On one day, I was under so much pressure from senior management that I questioned my employee’s dedication which led me to micro manage peoples time.
In my defence, this is how I had been treated and groomed, “do unto others, as have been done unto thee”. We are here to work, so let's be adult and get the job done.
It was a step into a time warp for me, when amidst my rantings about an employee’s absence, a colleague of mine informed that said employee had lost her mum the previous evening.
I was shaking emotionally as a flood of flashbacks played out in my mind, reminding me of the loss in my family that I have still not dealt with.
Here is the difference!!!
My choices were simple:
- be an adult and keep my focus on the job at hand; or
- harness the nurturing parent in me
The guilt I had, made me realise that this was an opportunity for me to change my experiences and be the nurturing parent. I decided to attend the funeral ceremony of the employee’s mother.
Upon arriving, I had an unsettling feeling in the pit of my tummy, when the employee saw me at the funeral and immediately starting apologising for not being at work.
The pressure that corporate employer places on the shoulders of their most valuable assets is so overwhelming that they feel guilt, when having to perform the last rights for a loved one.
This is totally bizarre, but so true.
I reassured her that there is no need to apologise or feel guilty, her reason is justified and she should focus on her family in their time of need. I sat with her in days that followed to entrench these sentiments and supported her through the period of mourning.
The solution to the deadlines at work was not as complicated as leaders usually exaggerate, I was able to find a temp contractor, who managed the work load until my employee and friend was fit to come back.
Now listening to this story, you probably have many questions, like “was I over compensating, considering my experience?”,” did I still feel guilty?”. My answer is YES to all the above.
Now that I am not tied down to tight deadlines and unrealistic expectations, I have come to realise that no matter where you find yourself in the corporate world, you and your colleagues are HUMANS first and workers later.
Treat your colleague’s, employee’s and leaders as you would want to be treated yourself.
© 2020 Mitara N