Stirring the Pot

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

February 5, 2013

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Categories: One a Day, Post a Day 2013

I’m a shit starter! I feel compelled to confess this. I’ve realized the pattern, and I must confess.

I first notice it’s broken. I try to fix it. It doesn’t work, so then, I try to break it more showcasing where I think the fault lines are.

I got called out on it today. Yes, this is a work thing.  We are going to discuss focus, at a staff meeting, Thursday. The parties presenting this have not been forthcoming with the desired outcomes – discussion, decision, input. The pattern holds that they ask for advice as a cursory gesture. They don’t really want it, but they feel compelled to ask. So, we all get together for a little kumbaya moment only to poor our hearts out for not listening.

So, I want my co-workers to be ready. Let’s do some guerilla facilitation. Let’s call them out on their own bullshit.

So, I sent a little innocuous email to the parties who will be present, reminding them that this conversation happened two years ago. My gut said DO IT. Do it now. Let them know. My gut — my intuition — could not decide whether to send emails piecemeal or all at once. I could target my responses, taking a long time, to send one email at a time. Prepping fellow co-workers with the gist of the previous discussions  But, that’s not very transparent. Do, I send it off to all except the one who called the meeting (not a staff member) — with a brief line explaining this happened previously? The big boss will disagree. I think it’s important that staff are prepped. I think that’s more important than my getting in trouble over an innocuous email.

Why?

Because we are all being fucking ridiculous  That’s why. And, I’m tired of it. We trip over these lines of politeness and rudeness depending on how stressed we are. We do not work in emergency management. We do not work in trauma. We work in slow, progressive change that works to flip the tear it up wear it out paradigm on its head. But, it’s slow going. And, we need to call out the white elephant in the room – acknowledge it – address its issues, honestly, and move on. And they have refused, for years before me, to do that. And now I’m here, stirring the pot.

And we are stuck in an environment that refuses to embrace collaboration even though collaboration is what we’re all about! We refuse to lead by example trying to hold onto the last fringes of some ridiculous hierarchy that claims to know all. Yet it doesn’t. It’s broken. And the powers that be are refusing to recognize that it’s broken.

And with their refusal they meter out little, controlled statements, while leaving staff to jump to conclusions  They don’t work here. WE do. WE have chosen this low-paying work as our livelihood because we believe in slow-growth, collaboration, and changing the fucking world.

They believe in changing the world too, but as a Board Member of a prestigious organization their motives are less clear. Some have family ties and want to perpetuate an inter and intra generational influence. Some are on as resume builders. Some care. But, it’s not obvious and nobody is actually talking about the issues.

It’s all sidestepped, tripping over lack of focus and misunderstood roles.

So, I stir shit up and send an innocuous email encouraging staff to bear in mind the context that isn’t being spelled out. Please, come prepared with your questions. Actually ask challenging questions. This is our livelihood, and we cannot let them take it away.

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