By Dianne Crampton
Leaders strategize, make action plans, define goals, identify core values and tie behaviors to ethics with the best intentions for their organizations. Happens every day and in every company…right? But, what if these companies don’t revisit and re-evaluate policies set in stone from time to time? Or worse, what if the powers that be, don’t toe the line with their own policies while the entire organization (and sometimes the world) looks on?
According to David Gebler, author of The 3 Power Values, good intentions in business can often lead to bad outcomes especially if your organization has a toxic culture to begin with. Leaders of toxic cultures will preach company ethics, policies, and core values, then put up roadblocks to employees who strive to perform to those values and high standards. Companies that have faced scandals such as recalls and ethical violations often discover that employees exhibited positive behavior, but become distorted by a toxic business culture and out of touch leaders.
Here are seven common business behaviors that can turn good intentions into negative employee behaviors if they become exaggerated and ill managed.
1. Stringent, unrealistic deadlines.
Pressure is on! The customer is counting on the product to arrive by his grand opening next week and the sales department swore up and down it would be ready. The sales order has been passed on to the manufacturing department (sans a few missing details, but the sales manager promises that information is forth coming). Now it is up to the manufacturing team to make it all happen. As a result, good employees are pressured to meet an immovable deadline which leads to sloppy workmanship and possibly the delivery of faulty, untested equipment to a disgruntled customer.
2. I’m special. You…not so much. Are business leaders charging golf clubs, extra long lunches with plenty of libations, and extended cruises on the company credit card when employees haven’t seen a raise since 2008?
3. I’ve been trained to do what? “That’s it???! I just sat through a one hour meeting and now you expect me to supervise a team on a major manufacturing project because the team leader just handed in his tool belt and walked out the door? I’m an awesome worker, but I can’t even manage my own toddler let alone a fragmented team!” No training and no understanding of how to facilitate a team spell disaster for a conscientious, high performing employee.
4. Who’s in Charge? There are too many team leaders and managers who aren’t communicating with one another or are undermining each other’s authority in power plays. Ouch! What’s an employee to do? Good employees are striving to do their best, but often are being pulled every in direction. In this case, they will shortcut processes, avoid the team leaders, and start finger pointing when the project goes south or fails deadlines. Office gossip becomes rampant, grumbling begins, and otherwise stellar employees infect other employees with their negative attitudes and disengagement.
5. Dangling the carrot. Giving employees a goal is typically a great motivator. Employees feel empowered, they contribute to the organization, and there may be a bonus when goals are reached. However, when companies set unrealistic goals for employees (or their jobs may be on the line), this results in a can of worms. According to Gebler, when Sears gave its auto repair mechanics a mandatory sales goal of $147 per hour in the 1990’s, it wasn’t long before customers were overcharged or were sold unnecessary repairs.
6. Healthy competition or destructive behavior? Employees become so competitive that they keep useful information secret from other departmental teams just to stay on top. Too much competition, often encouraged by team leaders and managers, breeds negative behavior among good employees. Productivity and profits of the organization as a whole are sabotaged for the sake of being on the “winning” team.
7. Hello? Anyone out there? If employees are hearing their own voices echo like they were at the Grand Canyon, then you can expect to see good employees join forces with disengaged employees. These employees often have excellent ideas or suggestions to improve a process. The worst slap in the face is when the team leader or manager takes the employee’s idea, runs with it, and claims it as his own.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, check out what TIGERS has up its sleeves on May 23 for HR personnel, project managers, and internal trainers. You won’t want to miss what the buzz is all about!
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