As Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School explained in her book, “The Fearless Organisation”, the ideal is to create an atmosphere of “psychological safety” where workers can speak their minds. Managers need to learn the art of “respectful inquiry”, where they ask employees questions and listen intently to the answers. The bosses at Amnesty may have listened to the political dissidents whose causes they were championing. But they clearly weren’t listening to their staff.
The report was devastating. The working environment at the organisation was described as “toxic”, there was widespread bullying of staff, a bunker mentality among senior management and 39% of employees developed mental or physical health issues as a result of their work. An investment bank or a technology firm in Silicon Valley? No. This was Amnesty International, a human-rights charity. Five managers have just left the organisation following the report’s findings.
Workplaces create their own hierarchies regardless of whether the aim of the operation is to help people or make money. Two female partners at KPMG, an accountancy group, recently left out of concern at the behaviour of a male colleague. Coming from a family of teachers, Bartleby can attest that school staff rooms are beset by bitter rivalries. Universities are famous for their internecine disputes, as captured in the adage that “academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”
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Source: The Economist