My little sister is obsessed with op shops (charity shops, second-hand shops, whatever you call them in your location). When we recently happened to drive past one in an area she doesn’t usually frequent, she made me stop and go back, then dragged me in. She went straight for the clothing racks. I went straight for the book shelves.
In May this year, I interviewed Barry* for an article. We talked about many things, mostly him, but somewhere in the middle of our conversation, we deviated onto the broader topic of workplaces with poor cultures, poor managers or poor management styles.
He’d just been made redundant from a company he’d been with for over a decade and in that time he’d become jaded and demotivated and he was far from being the only one. From processes that made no sense to workers who were treated with contempt, he’d seen enough to welcome the redundancy and the chance to move on and up in his career, hopefully to a company that didn’t engender the same or similar employee disappointment and dissatisfaction.
My response, in the form of a question, was this: “If good employees leave, how will poor cultures and poor managers ever change?”
Barry didn’t answer. He didn’t know the answer. We finished the interview and as I drove home, the question crystallised in my mind. Because it’s not just the workplace where this is relevant, it’s the entire world. If we all just turn our backs or leave when times get tough or when we encounter difficulties, where will the impetus for change for the better come from?
In short, I wondered, where have all the idealists gone?