Breaking free from conventional culture in the workplace

Have you seen the hit movie released by Netflix last December 2018? If you’re into thriller movies, Bird Box is a must-watch. Bird Box is a story of survival of a woman and her two children on finding the place that may offer sanctuary. However, their journey was tested because the challenge that they need to surpass is how they will reach their destination being blindfolded to avoid seeing the mysterious creature that annihilates the population. 

Drawing inspiration from the movie, netizens are quick to validate Bird Box’s popularity by doing some sort of online challenges where certain tasks are done carelessly while people are blindfolded. This challenge is known as the Bird Box challenge which promotes harm and possible danger because netizens are doing their task adventurously while documenting it just like crossing the street blindfolded. This concept can also be seen in the workplace because we, as an employee, tend be passive on what the management dictates.

In contrast to this challenge, I have observed three things which I believe we start taking off our blindfolds because it undermines great culture in the workplace.

First, if the management practice is “Against our values.” Most of the time, we tend to conform to the culture we are in. This isn’t bad especially we need to be adaptable to survive in the workplace. But what if the culture doesn’t define who you are and who you wanted to be? Are you going to ignore the wrong values and the wrong perceptions that we might encounter daily? As seen in the Bird Box movie, when people see the mysterious creature it distorts them from reality. Similar to the workplace, this creature represents the management practices such as unfair labor practices and office politics because we tend to be passive to the things that we always see.

Workplace values should be our guide because it defines the culture of the organization that we work for. Aside from that, who wouldn’t like to work for a company that is aligned to the right values and ways of working? 

Second, if leaders “fail to trust.” Normally, employees tend to submit because of hierarchy and control. As a result, they end up not expressing their own selves because they fear of being criticized and they lack the authority to do so. One of the scenes in the movie that caught my attention is when the group of people need to go out of the house to get some food for their survival. Since they covered their car windows with new papers and they painted it black, they weren’t able to see anything outside of it. They just relied on the GPS Navigation App as they go towards the grocery store. Similar to the workplace, sometimes we tend to follow the voice that keeps on directing us. It isn’t bad but we also need to learn how to express ourselves and how to share our own ideas and insights. Leaders should have to display their trust to their people because it is important to give autonomy they need to do their best work. A good leadership requires an exchange of ideas among its subordinates and leaders must encourage people empowerment in the workplace because employees will stay longer if they feel valued and empowered.

And lastly, having a “bad working relationship” among your colleagues. I believe that one of the reasons why people stayed longer to their jobs is because of their circle of friends and good working relationship. In contrast, when we work for the organization where people don’t have a harmonious working relationship, it might end up affecting the productivity level of the work—individually and collectively. Having a bad working relationship is synonymous to the unknown creature that roams around the city in the bird box movie, which makes the person focus on the unrevealed situation that leads them to be suicidal. When we relate it to the workplace, a bad working relationship is like a virus that can easily spread through the person’s mind because it creates a mental filtering where they tend to focus only on the negative aspect of the situation.

Workplace is like a second home to every employees and your colleagues are your family. If the members have a misunderstanding or a disagreement, it makes it dysfunctional. An openness to communication by providing feedback will help in the development of everyone. Also, employees will probably stay longer if the organization provides a positive work environment. 

Culture is what shapes the organization. Even if the organization has an outstanding strategy, it is surprisingly easy for a few poor management practices to unravel it. But correcting it can be exceptionally rewarding. By avoiding some of these pitfalls and always balancing the culture right, management can be a success in the long run.

Cristine Jeny T. Paxton is a Master in Business Administration student at De La Salle University. She works as a Global Benefits Analyst at a consulting firm in BGC, Taguig. She welcomes comments at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.

Topics: Green Light , conventional culture , workplace
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