While watching Simon Sinek talk about the Circle of Safety concept, I thought a lot about different times in my life where I’ve had my circle of safety. I’m from the Virgin Islands so coming to Iowa from there was a very big change of setting for me. I had no family here so I was pretty much on my own. Weeks into being at Drake I had already found a close group of friends that have been a circle of safety for me since I first came. I’m usually a pretty shy or quiet person when first meeting someone but, with my friends I’m able to speak my mind freely and be who I am.
Even at work I have my own circle of safety similar to Noah at his job. I’m in the meat department at Hy-Vee, and although starting out there pretty shy and quiet, my managers and coworkers have helped make it easier for me to open up and be more of myself at work. I’ve been working there a year now, and my circle of safety at work has grown from just being my coworkers in the meat department to other managers and coworkers throughout the store. When I go into work now I’m greeted in a friendly way and different managers will often talk to me, check up on me, see how I’m doing and give me advice or updates on anything going on, or if there’s something I should be careful of while at work. For example, recently one of the part timers that worked in customer service got fired for a post she had on Snapchat that one of the front-end managers saw and told human resources about. Word got around about what happened and why she was fired, but another manager that I get along with really well told me about and gave me some advice to just be careful of what I post, because anyone could see it and tell another person about it.
Another example I have comes from my own manager. There’s a Snapchat that we have that includes me and all the other part-timers in the meat department, along with all the young full-timers, the assistant manager and the manager. With my manager being the oldest, 28, in the group chat, and the youngest guys being 18, the group chat is pretty much all young guys. Since my manager is fairly close to our age, he has a pretty good idea of how we think and the things we do since he used to be in our shoes at one time. Since a lot of young people today are partying, drinking doing and/or selling drugs, he knows that life and has a lot of friends that have done the same, so he’s been a safe person to talk to about these things. I specifically remember one day when he messaged our group chat telling us about a close friend of his that was still selling drugs and died from a heroin overdose the night before. With a number of my coworkers being users of marijuana, and some having drug issues in the past, he told us this as a means of telling us all to be careful.
In leadership, creating a circle of safety helps to create a cohesive work environment, which helps to build trust and collaboration. We look at ourselves as a team, with my manager leading this team, but we work together in order to get the job done. Without a circle of safety, we would be fearful. Without the ability to trust and collaborate with the people you work with it gets harder to do what needs to be done. This can lead to a fear of doing things as there would be the thought of receiving punishment. If there is fear present, people are not going to want to go into work.
If a circle of safety was not present at place of work, there is a good possibility that I would no longer be working there, or I wouldn’t enjoy working. When you don’t enjoy working, you lose your motivation to go to work, and working in customer service without the motivation to be there would make me reflect badly to customers, then to management and my boss, and would eventually get me fired. This is why I’m glad that I’m in a circle of safety with my coworkers and managers, because even when I have days where I don’t really want to deal with customers, being able to interact with my department the way I do makes it worth it.