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."