Disengaging as a professional strategy.
Recently I was told about a letter doing the rounds on the internet called the Disengagement letter for step-parents. Initially I thought it was a really strange idea for an anonymous step-mom to suggest deliberate disengagement from what was supposed to be a blended family. However, I have been toying with new ideas regarding how to deal with bullying by so I read it to see if it contained any ideas.
The general tenet surrounding the idea seems to be that where the bkended family is breaking down that it is the biological parent’s responsibility to parent their children and not that of the step-parent. the step-parent should but out and let them get on with it. The step-parent should not try to pin his/her values of parenting, rules and ideas on children not suited or brought up by him/her.
The idea did not advocate losing respect or being nasty, it just proposes the idea of stepping back and not being so hands on.
HOW THE BULLIED EMPLOYER CAC START TO DISENGAGE
This got me thinking about the bullied employee who may not be able to get out of their workplace just now or who is dealing with a toxic or difficult work environment.
I am not talking about the numb, emotionally drained employee who has disconnected and disengaged entirely from their workplace but who is in emotional turmoil. I am thinking of a more considered and deliberate disengagement.
DISENGAGEMENT HAS MORE THAN ONE MEANING
One is the action or process of withdrawing from involvement in an activity, situation, or group.
The second emotional detachment.
The third is objectivity, or neutral disengagement.
In my view the workplace employee can exhibit all three of these possible disengaged behaviours.
The first is withdrawing from involvement. This is the employee who does the bare minimum, goes home dot on leaving time and who has no invested interest in colleagues, the job or the nature of the work. This is subjective behaviour born of misery and desperation in an environment they feel they cannot escape
The second is emotional disengagement or detachment. This is the employee who has literally checked-out, has no morale, is disillusioned, numb and feels little or nothing whilst at work. This is in my view harmful to the employee who is actually turning their emotions inward and who may start to exhibit the emotional and physical signs of stress that can lead to burn-out and ill-health. This is a totally subjective reaction.
The third novel possibility, in my view, is professional as oppose to personal disengagement. In other words the objective employee. An objective employee takes the deliberate and developmental opportunity to apply themselves professionally to their work but without a significant degree of emotional input. They understand their role in their job and appreciate that with a difficult employer they may well be regarded as a human resource rather than a human being and in doing so recognises that they should not blame themselves for their work predicament.
HOW TO DISENGAGE PROFESSIONALLY
The professionally objective employee maintains their high standards in the face of dissent around them. They may have a difficult boss or a toxic and difficult workplace but in taking the objective and professionally disengaged path they separate themselves from the mayhem. In doing so it becomes possible to start to plan and tackle their predicament.
This may involves finding an outside outlet for their emotions, ie sport, coaching or counselling. They are able to start to make plans from a detached point of view. If they are being bullied this may involve getting professional advice or their GP or union. Such an employee may start monitoring and recording behaviours that may amount to bullying, whilst still conducting their job to the best of their ability.
WHEN EMOTIONS CAN LET US DOWN
Being emotionally invested in our jobs on the face of it seems to make sense as we spend so long there during the day, however your employer is unlikely to be emotionally invested in you unless they are extremely foresighted and modern.
Being too emotionally invested risks burnout, stress and absenteeism.
We risk succumbing to the worst aspects of bullying or workplace toxicity when we have invested emotional depth in our work. Our identity and belief system can be compromised and cause lasting damage. Maintaining who we are outside are workplace puts our job in perspective.
OBJECTIVITY CAN HELP PERSPECTIVE
The emotionally distant or deliberately objective professional may be enabled to use their resilience and strength to assess the work environment and make objective decisions regarding their employment.
Such objective decisions may involve staying, leaving, re-training, moving within the organisation and being absorbed by their work
Objectivity in the face of an irrational employer may also help in dealing with being disciplined, being challenged or working in situations of high stress and instability. In todays work enviroment the culture of blame has become very entrenched, Surviving such a culture means maintaining confidence in our ability and skill despite being scapegoated.
Objectivity and disengagement has, in my view, to be a choice. A choice to rise above the noise and assess the situation from a distance and work out your personal and private objectives.
WE SHOULD NOT BEAT OURSELVES FOR BEING EMOTIONAL
We should not beat ourselves up if we cannot be objective and become emotional. However, if we have it in our minds to have a dispassionate relationship with a dissatisfying employer we may be able to make rational decisions and screen out the white noise. Such resilience may help us to survive and subsequently escape the toxic workplace when there is strife and uncertainty surrounding us. To emotional a relationship with an unfeeling and frankly unemotional employer could lead to compromising our own health and well-being.
DISENGAGEMENT MUST BE A CONSCIOUS CHOICE
Objective disengagement may provide us with a tool to make decisions and remain professional thus maintaining our excellent work record and making us attractive to other prospective employers. It also helps us to maintain clarity about our importance as an employee despite a workplace failing to value that importance. Start to look after your mental health now.
This is not advise, just our ideas and in a bullying situation it is essential to seek professional advice.