Are you setting off fireworks unintentionally in your organization?


Fireworks are a cherished symbol of patriotism but Grace wants nothing to do with them. Even the most desirable activities for many can be a turnoff to your valued employees. Make sure you understand how people are perceiving the programs you implement, otherwise your efforts may be creating the kind of fireworks that you aren’t anticipating!

The word ‘fireworks’ conjures up images of exuberant celebration, bursts of beautiful streams of light, and energetic sound booms. These rockets red glare are a beloved part of any good July 4th party.

But not everyone is a fan. Grace, our timid and fearful dog, has a completely different perspective. Fireworks are anything but merry and beautiful to her, they scare the wits out of her. They put her in a complete frenzy where she runs for cover, cowering and frantic to find a safe haven. She prefers to celebrate our nation’s birthday with a meaty marrow bone and absence of any fanfare and excessive noise.

Inclusive leadership prevents disparity in how your well-intentioned celebrations are received

And so it is in our workplaces. Any action, including well-intentioned celebrations, can excite one person and send another off the deep end. Grace is a constant teacher and reminder for me of this concept. The simplest of things will be an enormous issue for her, though they haven’t even registered as a potential threat to me. Using an inclusive leadership approach goes a long way to improving the workplace experience.  Doing so, you increase employee satisfaction and minimize friction and frustration, even for things that you had no idea could be disputed.

You can replace a number of things that represent ‘fireworks’ and you start to see the scope of the things that you influence as a manager. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • incentive programs
  • thank you awards
  • company outings
  • competitions designed to increase productivity or effectiveness
  • feedback offered, either formally or informally

All of these programs have merit and can be done beautifully, just like a professional fireworks program. Your results will depend on how you implement for the people who are involved. That means what works at one place and time may not work at all in another.

Seek out ideas, opinions, and reactions to hone future events

Managers would do well by listening to Grace’s aversion to fireworks. It’s a message that transcends to the workplace. Just because you like something doesn’t mean everyone will (or should). Whenever possible, managers should have an inclusive leadership style by seeking out the ideas, opinions, and reactions to the activities you are offering. It doesn’t mean you should eliminate any of the “fireworks” you are planning. But you should have a sense of how and why employees will react. Then you can make the experience better for everyone.

There are so many ways to celebrate our nation’s birthday this holiday weekend, all with the potential to excite one person but irritate another. Make sure your management approach takes into account the views of your team in order to maximize the joy, reduce the frustration, and meet the organizational needs. What will you do to be an inclusive leader? 

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