Let’s continue the discussion about deconstruction as it pertains to breaking the system and reclaiming time. I work for a healthcare facility that has been neck deep in the Covid crisis. We have been working to getting things back to as normal of an operation as we can. I manage three departments and my third department has only been opened as of July 6th. I have a wonderful employee who has been more than accommodating and understanding during this time and she was only brought back on a part time basis based on department needs. She worked for two weeks with no incident and then an employee from a different department made a complaint against her…for the business casual top she was wearing.
There are so many reasons why this was inappropriate but let’s look at this from the base level: I had an employee who was back for a period of two weeks taking a 50% pay cut with absolutely no work related issues and the problem an unrelated team member had was with her was her shirt. As the manager of my employee, I had no issue with the shirt. There was nothing wrong with it. But an employee who reports to another department decided that she took issue with it and brought it up to our director and now the issue has been brought to HR. Now it’s at an entirely different level.
I cannot understand for the life of me that during this particular time in all of our lives there are still people who feel entitled enough to bring forward a non-issue like this because of their opinion. But this is the state we have perpetuated and fostered. If you don’t like something you are able to create a storm around it and get results. I also cannot understand for the life of me that a business that is dealing with the largest crisis we have seen in a long time would even entertain allowing leadership level employees to waste their time dealing with this nonsense.
This is not the first time this type of incident has happened—but this is the first time I feel this level of agitation about it. I am very well aware that making any kind of waves is inherently risky. But I am also very well aware that, at this time in my life, I no longer feel compelled to stay quiet about it or to go with the flow. What this employee in the other department did is wrong and it is our responsibility to demonstrate that this is not the time or place for the behavior and it was completely unwarranted even if it were the time or place.
I have worked long and hard enough to establish myself in a leadership role and I value the privilege that comes with that position. This puts me in a position to raise the issue from a big picture perspective and hopefully cut away at the very system that I have been complaining about. I am fully willing to do this in a constructive way but I am determined to put some responsibility back on recognizing where the issue really is: we have encouraged people to focus on what makes them uncomfortable rather than getting the job done. We have put more value on someone’s opinion of a perfectly acceptable shirt than on an employee who has gone above and beyond on multiple occasions.
This is an opportunity to examine the monsters we have created, accept our role in letting it continue, and to lay a firm foundation in reconstructing expectations. Part of that is going to be establishing how our time is spent and understanding it needs to be on productive exercises—not on taking time away from patients to complain about another department’s HR approved clothing.
This also speaks to the current state of what is happening in the US regarding reopening businesses and returning kids to classrooms. We are more concerned about what things look like rather than public safety. My example may be small but it is the insidious, seemingly innocuous behavior that seeps through the cracks that leads to a nation behaving as a bunch of misinformed, spoiled children. I am going to do my small part to stop it.