In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher shares how the phrase "If you don't like it, you can leave" has changed in recent years but still exists.
The phrase was heard a lot, back in the day. It's something leaders would use as a stick to stay at an organization even if they didn't agree with how things were done or how employees were treated. Though it was explicitly said back then, it's implied now. And Russel highlights how it now shows up and how we as leaders can make sure we aren't spreading that ultimatum.
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Welcome to Relationships At Work – the leadership guide to creating a workplace we love. I’m your host Russel Lolacher
I’m a communications and leadership nerd with a couple of decades of experience and a heap of curiosity on how we can make the workplace better. If you’re a leader trying to understand and improve your impact on work culture and the employee experience, you’re in the right place.
Every week on the show, I talk with a local or global leader on topics that are help to you to improve the workplace. We’ve tackled so man topics: negativity, culture renovation, plain language, imposter syndrome, diversity, communication, empathy, activism, burnout, mental health, and so many other topics.
And now, as an added bonus, I’ll be sharing an additional episode pulled from the pages of our weekly R@W Note which you can subscribe to.
A quick and valuable bit of information on top of our regular show.
So the R@W Note I’m passing on to you this week, is called…
Don’t Like It, You Can Leave. The Silent Version
Heard this quote before? Once or twice?
I have. I heard it A LOT when I was coming up in the service industry and a bit in the corporate world.
It was the "go to" for any leader that didn't want to hear differing opinions or new solutions to “how it always has been” or “how it works here”.
Basically… It is what it is - get over it, get used to it or go.
Sad to say, but this approach is still very much in place in many cultures. I’m not saying you hear these exact words. No one says it anymore. Not out loud.
The difference is that now it's left unsaid. It's implied.
Every time employee ideas to improve bad processes are ignored.
Every time an employee survey with a horrible result either isn’t shared back, is censored or is shared but nothing changes.
Every time bad behaviour from leadership like bullying, ignorance, passive aggressiveness… is ignored or tolerated.
Every time employees feel fear or intimidated to speak up because there’s no psychological safety due to fear of retaliation.
If you don’t like it, you can leave.
Organizations and leadership are saying that this is the organization, we’re not interested in changing it even if we say we are. Your move. Over to you.
If you don’t like it, you can leave.
This new modern version can have serious consequences, including killing employee morale, demotivating staff, increasing turnover and lowering engagement.
Thankfully as leaders, we do have some options in influencing the workplace environment for our teams. We can actually take steps to change it, for them.
1. Foster Open Communication – encourage your team to voice their concerns and feedback, without fear. Listen and acknowledge their opinions and ideas and the value of them, whether you agree with them or not.
2. Be Fair and Consistent – implement and enforce policies and procedures that are fair, consistently, and transparently. And equitably across all team members. And make sure we address any disparities, discrimination or bias immediately to ensure fairness. It’s walking the talk.
3. Drive Change – demonstrate that if something isn’t working, it can be adjusted. Involve employees in decision-making processes. And their input into things that affect their work and the company’s direction.
Even though that “if you don’t like it, you can leave” statement sucked… I respect that they were clear and open about it rather than this passive aggressive secrecy of not saying it out loud.
By fostering open communication, being consistently fair and driving change, you’ll show that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to leave. Because we’re listening and we want to do better.
It’s got a better ring to it.