Victim thinking and the related behaviors can be lethal to your culture. It can be blatant or subtle in how it’s manifested, so it’s important to stay alert in order to recognize the signs and be prepared to challenge victim thinking. I recognize there are people in this world whose thoughts immediately go to the negative, but there are also cultural practices that either perpetuate or stop their negative, victim-type thinking in its tracks.
Some of the most blatant examples can include jabs made about other departments. A few that I’ve heard include: “Well it must be nice to have all the staff they have.” Or “They always get the new equipment and we get the junk.” Or, “They’ve got it easy.” What this type of thinking implies is that your department is being treated as second class citizens while others are favored. These comments need to be not only challenged and debunked, but can be prevented by setting a standard for professional communication when speaking about other departments, individuals or the organization. Set the standard and help your team understand how to recognize and debunk these comments and finally to reframe the comment.
One of the victim statements I frequently hear but is often overlooked is the employee who says, “No one ever tells me anything around here! I’m the last to know.” Or, “It would be nice if someone would tell me.” These types of comments really push my buttons especially in organizations that work tirelessly to keep employees informed through multiple communication vehicles. Especially in today’s world of intranet, email and other mass communication vehicles. Even the old fashioned communication book in my nursing department required that team members opened it, read information, and initialed to indicate they had read it. This low-tech method still works by the way.
Of course leaders must own the responsibility for providing timely and accurate communication, but there is a shared responsibility for each employee within the organization to seek information and stay abreast of news. When setting your standards for communication remember that internal communication must be treated as a two-way street. When it comes to internal communications, make sure there is a clear expectation that employees have a responsibility to seek information and stay apprised. When people know that they are expected to seek information, it sends the message that communication isn’t a passive exercise, but rather requires active participation by both the sender and receiver.