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Home > Blog > Do your coworkers have your back?
Out of Our Minds
Monday, October 02, 2006 9:50 AM
Do your coworkers have your back?
Michelle Medley on Life

How far would you go to help a coworker? Maybe you'd write their TPS report, set up their email or deisgn their PowerPoint presentation, but would you carry their sock drawer to the dump?

When I heard that a coworker's garage had ignited, burning down the house, I did what everybody does in these situations - contributed funds. Then the coworker asked for real aid. She needed help throwing out the sodden, torched contents of her home. Have you ever done this for somebody you hardly know? Shoved their mattress out a two-story window? Removed their stuffed animals, their dog's bed, their work clothes, still on the hangers?

I showed up to help because I knew if something like this happened to me, I'd want hordes of volunteers to get me through it. At the house, the air was thick with particulate matter, traces of smoke, mildew and rot. It made your throat burn. It made you sweat. But underneath my bandana, tied over my face for protection, I found myself smiling through the grim task. Working right there with me were my former boss, my new boss, a VP and even the company's founder and owner, all doing the dirty work. There were lots of people I didn't know, so we shook each others' protective gloves, braced ourselves and got our backs into it.

This story raises lots of questions to think about, but I keep coming back to this: Are you working for a company that would show up in the worst moments of your life? They say they care . . . would they carry your eliptical workout machine? On any given day - weekends included - have they truly got your back? And could you back them, no matter what? If not, why not?


John Schneider - 10/5/2006 3:09:18 PM
I used to work for an organization where a particular manager always preached that he was watching our back. He'd say this to employees he was actively looking to fire without their knowledge!

I examined how mission effects culture on my website,www.sociallyresponsiblebusinessforum, this past week. Ultimately, I think the mission and culture of an organization are good predicters of how a company views employees.
Keith - 10/3/2006 7:12:37 AM
Tom, I'm not sure if question is whether people keep to themselves after work -- this isn't a beer party. Instead, what I think Michelle is talking about is the question of emergency situations. When I read her post, I thought, "Well duh, if you can't get that minimal amount of support (a life-changing fire), that's not just a bad place to work, it's a bad place to live. The community has completely broken down, you know?

I can't invision working anywhere you couldn't get the very very basics, even if people aren't warm and fuzzy.
Tom Wopat - 10/2/2006 12:50:05 PM
Personally, I'd be the first to help out a respected co-worker. Afterall, the concept of teamwork shouldn't end at the conclusion of a workday.

Though I'd have to question whether or not others in my organization would do the same. Not to make snap judgements, but the majority of the employees in my place of employment appear to keep to themselves after the workday is up. Perhaps it's because I've yet to see them jump at the chance to help one of their colleagues, but somehow I don't think they would. Too much of a liability/inconvenience I suppose.


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