As it appeared in the Daily Nation on August 22nd, 2017
The workplace is said to be one of the most complex places on earth. The managers and colleagues we work with, our suppliers and partners and the customer we serve all have different personalities and backgrounds. When we are hired, the expectation is that we should be able to adjust accordingly. Many of us are able to quickly adjust and work effectively with each other irrespective of personality, race, religion, ethnicity, political views or gender. Unfortunately, many others struggle through out their work life. Unable to work effectively with others, they find themselves falling apart piece by piece.
At the just concluded elections, many of us voted differently. Does that mean that we cannot work well together? Off course not, we can work well together even when our views differ. We need to be adaptable. Our experiences from the past come in handy in making us adaptable. One of the best experiences I ever had was when I reported to the University for Undergraduate Studies. My two roommates were from very different backgrounds. Two decades later, we have stayed in touch. We did not let our differences come between us. Working in a place where I was a minority was also a good stretch. While working at a Walmart super store, I learnt the importance of respecting each person as an individual. What was important was to get your job done while working with and through others. To stick together we need to be aware that each one of us deserves respect.
Quite often, we are not privy to the sort of persons we will work with in the course of our work life. It therefore becomes important to be ready to work with people whose backgrounds are different from ours. Many organizations are equal opportunity employers providing equal opportunities to all irrespective of their backgrounds. Other organizations encourage diversity in their teams by proactively having persons with different backgrounds. Whether intentional or by chance working with others that are not like us, spices up our work life. What is crucial is to stick together in order to move our organizations forward irrespective of our differences. When we stick together, we support and help each other to get the job done. It is only by sticking together that we can seamlessly serve our customers.
During my work life, I have learnt not to take stereotypes too seriously. One of the stereotypes we may have heard is that if you are a female, a female manager is a disaster. Fortunately, for me, two of my best managers were females. We need to put stereotypes aside. I have learnt that at the workplace what is important is to have a sense of belonging. When we belong, we work well with others towards a common goal, we find solutions and we become more efficient. Some call it teamwork, others call it cooperation yet others call it collaboration. I call it individual commitment to getting the job done.
When we do not stick together at the workplace, it becomes very difficult for our organizations to make progress. Without each other, we cannot do all that needs to be done. Are we individually committed to sticking together at our work place to build stronger companies?
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy