Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Smooth and Rough

If you've been in the workplace long enough you've probably seen these two personality types:

  • Rough Bark
  • Smooth Bark.

I've found that the Rough Barks are often old softies who hide a caring nature beneath a gruff exterior and that there are plenty of Smooth Barks out there who are, to alter an old expression, as fine a person as ever slit a throat or scuttled a ship.

Organizations often worry about their Rough Bark managers and executives. They are concerned that the bluntness and lack of refinement might trigger a harassment case. Those thoughts are not without merit. I've seen far fewer organizations, however, that worry about the Smooth Barks.

That omission is a major blunder. It can be akin to worrying about the flu when a far more serious illness is moving down the corridors. Smooth Barks, of course, are far more formidable adversaries. They possess the people skills and eloquence to dart between the rain drops and their appetite for revenge is unquenchable.

It is as if many companies make a deal with the devil. They ignore the predations of the Smooth Bark because that slickster always gives them an explanation with just enough plausibility to permit them to pretend that nothing bad really took place. They discipline the Rough Barks because those renegades might embarrass them and provide no decent defense for doing so.

What will they do, however, if the day comes when the Smooth Bark turns on them?


Anonymous said...

Fine post, Michael. In my experience, it's far easier to help the Rough Barks smooth out a bit than it is to affect any Smooth Bark with a rotten core.

Michael Wade said...


I've had the same experience.