As the foundation for our freedoms, The Bill of Rights documents the liberties to which we’re entitled. Why is there no corresponding bill of rights for individuals at work? If there were such a document, what form would it take? The points below provide a glimpse of what this declaration might resemble:
- I have the right to a workplace free of informants and secret police. Clandestine, covert spy ops should be reserved for detective films (or the respective governmental unit). Your office should not be a place where “duck and cover” is the expectation. Do you work in a culture of fear full of informants where business is conducted behind your back?
- I have the right to express an opinion (even if, and especially) if it’s contrary to the status quo. Maintaining a buttoned up mouth bottlenecks what’s not working. The results are ailments, shamed silence, and a spirit that resents the imbalance.
- I have the right to work without fear of reprisal. From The Washington Post: “It is the leader’s responsibility to create a workplace that is not only free from harmful behaviors, but one that encourages respect among all employees, regardless of personality, performance, status or power.”
- I have the right to work without stricture. The empowered office implies that excess oversight is a managerial relic. In the inverted pyramid it’s the workers who are calling the shots.
- I have the right to supportive relationships with my compatriots. Your peers should be your biggest advocates. If they’re not, then your work culture has not sufficiently rewarded individuals for “other development.” In a winner take all, zero sum game, there will be many losers. When was the last you saw “spontaneous act of kindness” at the office?
- I have the right to both suggest and to initiate change. Status quo results in stick in the mud thinking. Restructuring process (and the associated growing pains) is necessary to stay fresh, and to keep one step ahead of the competition. Embrace the gift of employee ideas.
- I have the right to question your behavior. This country – so proud of its freedoms – is one where employees are often times required to check theirs at the door. In a conversation I should be able to call you on poor conduct (regardless of rank), question your conclusions, engage in two way communication, and act as something other than sheep. As a coworker I am a voice in unison with others. Remember that dialogue is with, and not at other persons.
- I have the right to speak to whomever I please. True open door argues suggests that anyone is receptive to suggestion, no punches pulled. Punishment for bypassing protocol only serves to buttress your position, and to “contain” your employees. Containment breeds rebellion, and a very real threat to your position.