I used to work at a physical therapy office. There were about 15 employees, and the majority of them were female. I did not think too much about diversity there because I had not learned about it yet. I wish I had learned about it before I started working there or in the first few months, because it might have saved me from working in misery for three and a half years. One of my co-workers, Joe, made a comment to me one day that would be defined as sexism, a belief that women are less capable or less valuable than men.
It was the end of the shift and we were cleaning up the office. I was filing charts away, so I asked Joe to do the dishes to help out. He laughed at me and told me to clean the dishes because I am a girl. I believe he might have been joking or not realized that was he was saying came across sexist, but there was no reason for him to make that comment. I did get a little annoyed by the comment, so I told him to take out the trash since he was a guy and then proceeded to clean the dishes. Gender roles are a very gray area in the workplace.
People might think of guys as fire fighters, police officers, or even garbage men. Women might be thought of as nurses, teachers, and stay at home moms, who clean the house, including the dishes. However, these assumed gender roles should not define people. It does not matter who cleans the dishes or who takes out the trash. What matters is that workers work as a team to get the job done. In addition to making a sexist comment, Joe also showed prejudice and discrimination to females. He thought that dishes should only be done by women and he said that thought out loud with a laugh to me.
At the time, Joe probably thought he was just making a joke to his co-workers, but I was clearly offended by the way I told him to take out the trash. My comment about the trash should not have happened; it did not make me any better than Joe in the situation. The reason I left the job was not because of Joe, however. I left that physical therapy office because I did not fit in with their culture. I did not have the same belief system, norms, values, and assumptions that my fellow co-workers had.
There were a ton of workers that I did not get along with because they were always gossiping about other workers behind their backs. My boss had humiliated me by making me sit on a stool and watch two patients being treated instead of doing one of the million things I could have worked on at the front desk, just because there were two receptionists working that day and he did not want both of us at the front desk even if there was absolutely nothing to work on in the patient area. After learning about diversity, I have learned to really think about what I am thinking or saying.
The IAT tests mostly confirmed that the beliefs I thought I had, were right, although there were a few surprises. Mostly everyone has some sort of belief that favors one group over another and might have gotten these from growing up in a certain culture or learning it from someone, but we need to be aware of these thoughts that way we do not offend anyone. Joe should have kept the comment about girls doing dishes to himself and I should have not spat back with telling him to take out the trash because he is a guy, but not being aware of how thoughts like these can offend people made us both open our mouths.
In this organizational behavior class, I learned a lot about myself and my current and past job. There were many key terms that will help me as a business student, but the one that stood out to me the most was onboarding, which is when employees are brought in for paperwork and training of a new job. When I started my new job at a swim school in November, they told me to come in for onboarding, and I half expected to walk onto a ship. Now, I will not be so lost to business words in future jobs. When we discussed how an organization is structured, I could relate that to my swimming school job.
We first have an owner name John. He is on top and it is his building and his company. Underneath him is the manager, Amy. Underneath her are two categories, front desk rep and deck supervisor. Under the deck supervisor is the deck teacher and then the swim teacher. I can now clearly see how this line of power really helps to organize the company. This is just for my location, though. This would stem out a lot further because the swim school is a franchise with the owners of the company being in Michigan.
I really understood how poor of a company the physical therapy office was compared to the swim school when I learned about organizational culture. At the physical therapy office, the manager/owner never checked on his staff. He only popped in when he wanted a cup of coffee made for him or when he wanted to yell about something, that usually was not even my fault. At my new swim school job, the manager sits with the front desk reps and her and the owner are constantly checking in with the deck teachers and the desk supervisors to see if they need anything and/or to correct them if needed.
These two, Amy and John, also hold monthly staff trainings with all of the workers to tell us what is going good and bad, and then to improve on what is not going good. This would never happen and never did happen at my old physical therapy job. When we learned about power, it made me see how the manager is the one in charge at the swim school because she has hiring, firing, and promotion power. Even though I was the third one hired and may be liked by the manager and do an excellent job as a front desk rep, I am not in charge.
I cannot yell at people who do not clean up the pool deck after their shift or never lend a hand at cleaning the bathrooms or taking the trash out. The manager has power, so all I can do is do a well job as a front desk rep. However, I would say that I have referent power because I am well liked and other workers have asked me for help when it comes to selling goggles or tilling off at night. I have definitely learned a lot in this organizational behavior course this semester. There were a lot of topics that I had never learned about, but I could easily relate them to my old physical therapy job and my new swim school job.
I think these connections made it easier to understand because I could see how the topics applied to my own life. Between the gossiping, not fitting in with the culture, and having a really bad boss, plus Joe’s sexist comment about me doing the dishes because I am a girl, I can now tell after learning about diversity, how bad of a workplace that physical therapy office was. The knowledge I now have about diversity is something that I will definitely bring to my next job to make sure that I do not end up in a similar setting again.
After taking this course, I can see how the swim school is a good place to work. The power is set up hierarchal, so everyone can easily tell the roles and where they stand as far as power. The managers do care about the workers and show that by coming out of their office and working at the front desk and checking on the pool area to see if anyone needs help or to teach improvement. They also do a nice job of setting up monthly staff trainings with pre-planned items to talk about, good and bad, and then having us work on problems that need to be solved to improve the company.
After taking this course, I feel like I have the knowledge to differentiate a good company culture from a bad company culture. I also feel like after learning about diversity I am more aware of the thoughts I may have, and being aware means that I will be more careful on what I say or act upon that way I do not offend anyone. Although I did do the dishes when Joe made the comment, next time if someone makes a comment like that, I could tell them it does not have to be a girl that does the dishes and if they clean them, I will take out the trash.