Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Encouraging Abuse

Years ago, Michael LeBoeuf developed what he called the greatest management principle in the world: That which is rewarded gets done.

I think of the principle whenever I see abusive behavior in the workplace. What do some workplaces inadvertently do to encourage such conduct? Here are some examples:

  • Rewarding the manager who yells at subordinates but can boast of great production numbers.
  • Covering up rudeness with euphemisms such as "direct" and "autocratic."
  • Permitting managers to "kiss up and kick down."
  • Keeping notoriously dysfunctional supervisors and managers on the payroll until they commit a major blunder or produce a lawsuit.
  • Hiring "junkyard dog" attorneys and extolling their aggressive behavior.
  • Putting undesirable labels on employees who fail to fit the aggressive mode.
  • Excusing abusive behavior by female executives and managers by noting that men have traditionally done the same thing.
  • Allowing teams and crews to bully mavericks.
  • Pretending that you can't correct the misconduct because "You can't fire anyone nowadays."

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