I lost a few friends on Facebook in 2015. Apparently, folks didn’t like things I was posting so they un-friended me.
A few let me know they were un-friending me before they did it. I was called things like “feminazi” and “race-baiter” by people I’d known for years. People I liked. People I trusted. People I’d been there for … And that really hurt.
Ultimately, I shook it off and moved forward. I have to be true to myself and my feelings and my point of view. I have a lot of friends who understanding, respect and appreciate that. So I’m glad those who couldn’t handle it made the choice to bow out. And if “taking me down a peg” on the way out made them feel better, that’s fine too.
While I was sorting through my feelings on this, it occurred to me that I’ve done the same thing to other people … People at work.
People who pointed out managers who were jerks. Who pointed out co-workers who were rude or taking advantage of their team. Who pointed out high premiums or limited coverage issues with our benefits. Who pointed our low or lagging wages. Who pointed out the lack of diversity. Who pointed out lack of opportunity for development.
I un-friended them.
I un-friended them because their views didn’t align with the company. I un-friended them because they had the audacity to be vocal about their unhappiness with the state of affairs. I un-friended them because they didn’t think what we wanted them to think.
I labeled these people as “complainers”, “troublemakers” and “problem children”. I avoided them in the hallways and break areas. I stopped taking their meetings and answering their calls and responding to their emails. Eventually, if they back-off or back down, I looked to remove them from the organization.
After my experiences being un-friended on Facebook last year, I realize my approach needs improvement.
Improvement by listening. Improvement by considering their point of view has some merit. Improvement by acknowledging they might be right.
Un-friending might work on Facebook. But in management? That’s not how any of this works!