A Guest Post by Kirsty Robertson – CEO, Mary MacKillop Today
Everyone has a story.
There is the narrative that you prepare for an interview – it’s a well-worn tale of strengths. Of strong points, advantages, influences and power. Of aptitude, talents and gifts. It even has a few virtues cloaked as areas for improvement. Of failures learned from and limitations overcome. But hidden in the cracks of that well-worn tale is the other story. The other part of you certainly not on show in an interview and then once at work hidden as best you can.
This part of your story often leads to you not applying for promotions. Or worse still to you not getting them. For some it means they leave the workforce all together. This is the story of kids, single parenthood, pregnancy, ageing parents. Of chronic illness, of just plain old age. Of anxiety and depression. Of eating disorders, of inactive thyroids, of disability. Of………well life in all its messiness.
My story has had some pretty messy chapters in my attempt to hold my baby in my arms. I have had two miscarriages at work. I had another two miscarriages at home. But was back at work the next day. I worked up until my due date which turned out to be the literal day I gave birth. I did that because I was ambitious. And because inherently I knew, or perhaps had been told by mentors along the way if you want to get ahead and stay ahead it is best to never mention the messiness of life, especially if you were a woman.
When I returned to work full time 12 weeks after my son was born, I was suddenly faced with a huge problem. I couldn’t hide the hum of the breast pump. I couldn’t ignore the call of the daycare center when he was sick. I couldn’t pretend that it wasn’t a little bit of vomit on my dress. I couldn’t hide this “crack”. Besides which he wasn’t a crack – he was my rainbow baby. He was a vein of precious metal running through the earth.
And then this weird thing happened as my cracks begun to show people began to work harder for me.
As my humanness unfolded their attachment to me and the organisation grew.
Others started to talk about their “cracks’ and we started to be open to working around things better.
Of course, going to the Easter hat parade was a priority as was taking your elderly parents to their doctors’ checkup.
Of course, you can work shorter days or some days at home to help with your chronic fatigue.
Of course, your kids can come into the office if your babysitter calls in sick. And of course, if being behind a camera helps with your anxiety you can take the role of “photographer” at all our events.
When people know that someone really cares, you can see it. It is in their face. In their actions. In the gifts they give to their colleagues and the organisation.
Opening our hearts to people who work around us is scary, but our workplace is all the better for it. Our productivity is exceptional. Our staff retention is exceptional. Our organisations’ growth is exceptional. We now recruit looking for those cracks because we find people with a story are often creative, innovative and highly motivated. They face challenges and find solutions on a daily basis and that can contribute to our workplace success.
And so leaders in all organisations large and small, why not let your cracks be on show.
Let your staff see that you are human. That life challenges you as it no doubt challenges them. Let them know that your value their strengths and their fortitude and creativity to deal with the cracks.
Your workplace will be better because of it. Ours certainly is.
Join the incredible CEO, Kirsty Robertson at The Thriving Workplace Event next month to explore how YOU can harness unique superpowers to turbocharge income and outperform your competition.
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