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  • David Toll

'We just want it to stop' A bottom-up approach to workplace conflict

Updated: May 7

The Four corners episode ‘Facing the Music’ (11October 2021) showed an incredible circumstance of alleged workplace abuse led by the CEO within Sony Music Australia. It is a story of how ‘fear and intimidation stalked the corridors for decades’ and yet nothing was done about it. The episode reported that over time, more than 50% of staff left the organisation because of the toxic culture, and yet many stayed on despite this appalling behaviour. ‘Traumatised’ was the word to describe the people who worked there during that time, and it is still obvious that the effect continues.

It occurred to me when watching this was that either the staff didn’t know how to deal with this situation or that they were conditioned to think that somehow this was acceptable behaviour. The 2012 House of Representatives inquiry into workplace bullying was entitled ‘We Just want it to stop.’ So maybe, the Sony employees liked their jobs and just wanted the toxic parts to stop but didn’t want to formalise the issue or pit themselves against people more powerful than they were within the organisation?

Most organisations have grievance processes in place or complaint mechanisms which require the aggrieved staff member to initiate some action against a supervisor. A lot of time is spent with senior staff within organisations encouraging them to initiate more effective means of managing conflict within their workplaces. But if you are an organisation like Sony Music, neither of those methods are going to work. So I’ve decided to attack this from the bottom up. It seems to me that the employees at the bottom could use some confidential advice and some direction on how they may handle the matter without necessarily ending up in court or being sacked but still have the problem stopped.

I have created a hybrid survey and am offering this freely for anyone to complete and send to me for a confidential assessment. There are a range of options on how to manage things from there to assist both the employee and the organisation without necessarily establishing a traditional adversarial environment where there is a winner and a loser. Please feel free to circulate.

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