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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Holding each other up at the workplace

When she walked into the room, she could breathe the heavy air. Though she could not exactly tell what the issue was, Peninah was sure that it was not business as usual. The staff looked somber and in deep thought. The guard at the main gate had reluctantly opened the gate for her but she had considered it as part of the Monday morning blues. 

She had taken no offence. But by the time she sat on her office couch, she knew she needed to do something, something she could not finger. And what needed to be done had to be done fast. It seemed everyone in the office had been waiting for her to walk in so as to provide leadership in the case.

Over the past weekend, one of the longest serving staff in the company, Nicholas, had been involved in a tragic road accident while visiting his relatives up country. As a result, he had lost his wife and daughter and was now fighting for his life at the District Hospital. Word had not reached any of the workmates until that Monday morning when a friend had called the office after locating a business card in his wallet. This was tough. It was tragic and no one could behave as though nothing had happened. A dark cloud hang over the office and leadership was needed. Leadership from the boss.

As Peninah listened to the horror incident from the head of HR, her head sunk. Her spirit rose and went for the heart of the injured staff. She quickly logged off her computer and requested for a quick staff meeting. In a short while, the entire staff team sat in the board room waiting to hear what the CEO had to say. Unity of purpose seemed to hold all staff together. It was clear. 

Everyone needed to be involved in whichever way to support the injured colleague. Quick resources were raised and a team dispatched to visit the injured staff in hospital and later on visit his home. Two of the staff’s sons had just closed school to the news of the demise of their mother and sister and hospitalization of the father. They all needed help. Quick help.

After a month in hospital, Nicholas was discharged and spent a further one week at home before reporting back to work. As he walked out of his house that Tuesday morning, he could feel the warmth attracting him to the office. He just wanted to get to work and shake the hands of every staff. They had pulled him out of death. Almost literally. He knew he owed them thanks. They had held him up.

This story could just be a representation of the many challenges staff go through either at work or in their private lives. The support mechanisms available for them mean a lot in terms of enhancing team feeling among staff. The support goes far beyond the team building events the organization may have organized in terms of building real team bonds. It separates the wheat from the chaff in creating a sense of being at the workplace. The actions get so loud that you can barely hear the words emphasizing team work.

When staff hold each other up, the support goes a long way into creating lasting bonds among staff and management. At those points of need, there is no compartmentalization of the office space. All persons get down to earth to help the situation and no one carries the glory at the end of it. ‘We all did it’ becomes the new slogan as the feeling of comradeship sets in. At this point, the company is ready for a rebirth, the recreation of the fibre that holds it together. A linking up of the human side of the company.

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