Updated: Dec 29, 2022
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!”
– Peter Senge
I have so much to say about disrupting the status quo. I work in a space that is structured hierarchically, I work in government, deep breath in deep breath out. I often take meditation and yoga breaks at work, it is a need, it is a practice I must employ doing government transformational work.
A co-worker of mine a Director in Behavioral Health said it best in a recent email he said, “we work in a giant white supremacist bureaucracy”.
But he doesn’t know what to do, he is as indoctrinated into the toxic government work culture as the rest of us. He is so bogged down with “directorial duties” that he can’t slow down for the important stuff, the human stuff.
A short list of recent disruptions in my workplace, the long list is exhaustive.
1.Who can send emails to who?
A very important speaker was scheduled by the Behavioral Health Equity and Inclusion division and because of gatekeeping of communication the email had to be vetted by a “hire up” before it could be sent. It was supposed to go out on Friday, it still hasn’t been sent, this is the disruption.
2. Can we work virtually from anywhere??
Folks are eager to get out of town and visit family, many of which they haven’t seen in years because of COVID. This is the concern and the disruption. “If so and so gets to work from California for two weeks then we all should get to”. Is there a policy for that? Is he breaking a policy? Is there some vague employment insurance stipulation that needs to be looked at? Why should working from your own home versus your parents’ home in another state matter to our employer. Decentralization can be a benefit for many organizations. Maybe I will write about this in another post.
3. Meeting structures are chaotic and harmful.
Many of the work norms and practices are problematic. This is the bane of my work. The hierarchical structure and practices (norms) of government work are like ripping layer after layer of old melted and fused duct tape off.
4. Some meetings are gate-kept.
What happens in the meeting stays in the meeting. This is TOXIC on so many levels.
5. There is no talk about culture, ever.
And there is rarely talk about strategy. I am on the strategic ops team. My supervisor has no time to strategize because she is micromanaging with finesse. She is lovely and she has equanimity down to a science. She practices Caring Science in everything she does, and it is very helpful, and it is only one practice of many that is needed to transform our work culture. My supervisor gives a lot of autonomy she is generous with grace, she is a great listener, she is kind. Yet, she still gets stuck in policy and procedure and it’s a disruption.
6. Transparency is a wishy-washy term in government land.
There are many side conversations happening that no one is aware of until they are…then it’s chaos. Whatever was being talked about in special spaces now becomes a go-game.
This is a toxic and harmful work practice that causes teams and managers to have to go from zero to 100 at a moment’s notice. Can you imagine eternally sitting at the edge of your seat. NO THANK YOU!
From my integral perspective we should always being doing the next right thing because it’s the right thing to do. That means our policies need to be iterative and inclusive. Because our families are not in state doesn’t mean we should have to stay in state for holidays, that is psychologically and emotionally harmful to an employee.
It’s what I like to call a “dumb rule”.
When we create rules without intention of humanity in mind, we are creating oppression. That is saying that one individual is awarded certain privileges over another grounded on who, where, and how they celebrate the holiday or their position or status in the workplace. This is saying that we don’t trust our staff and their needs.
Equity says that what you need may be different than what she needs, and both are understood, valued and respected with individual shared agreements. Equity in the workplace is co-created.
Diversity says that we all have different needs, and these needs are based many intersectional and divergent factors. For instance, the how, where, and when we work.
Inclusion says that even though your needs are different than my needs and your role is different than mine you are equally respected and valued in this space. Government work practices are not inclusive - hierarchy is inherently exclusive.
So, when we are telling you there is no going back to any form of previous normal this is what we are talking about. Disruptions will continue to happen, there will be conflict, tough decisions will need to be made, and human wellbeing will be on the line.
I am a transformation enabler, this is what I do, there are hundreds of thousands of us, you can be one too, please be one too!
If your work has a union, join it now, and use your voice.
Educate yourself. Don’t take DEI or Trauma Informed anything from people who have not lived it. Lived experience means that there is true passion, courage, and compassion behind the teaching of these concepts. They are not checking off boxes or have any of the capitalistic ulterior motives like money, power, and greed.
If you are in a leadership position you have a responsibility to inform yourself and help your team feel empowered to make change.
Here is my pick... https://awareconsulting.org/keep-calm-and-connect.
People with lived and living experience are doing the work because they truly want to see change happen for the betterment of humanity, we are Transformation Enablers.