SURVIVAL of the Fittest: Cheaters or Bullies?

Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Let me start out firstly by underscoring the fact that I am not an advocate of cheating or bullying whatsoever!  What inspired me to write this Blog is the fact that there is a growing enlightenment that bullying by managers is an epidemic that is rampant in corporate America.  Not really surprising  is it?

These stories shed light on the pressure organizations put on managers who in turn bully employees into productivity levels that are so high that the ones that are achieving them are putting their home life aside, long hours without claiming it as overtime, while those Managers are using those superhuman employees as examples by casting them as superstars and the benchmark for performance yardsticks. 

Regardless of what the marketing, website or PR machines are saying, the management style of telling, not asking, never mind showing, is prevalent in corporate culture.  Sadly, it is those same managers who haven't even been in the trenches doing the work to understand the demands they are asking for.  Their middle managers are under the same stress and are more keen on being surrounded by those that support them, do what they ask without question, rather than examine how they are getting those results because they have to continually showcase their own worth and face similar expendable threat.  Or, in some cases, they are the ones who are asking their managers to do it.  Leading by example? 

Sadly, motivation and inspiration deteriorates as employees are under pressure because wherever you look, the media is saying basically that "you're lucky to have a job" with so much unemployment seemingly the norm.   Gone are the days when friends or colleagues layoff are shocking.  We've become more conditioned to it rather than historically wondering if they did something wrong to actually deserve it. 

Repeating myself: I'm not condoning the behaviour of cheating or bullying.  I'm just thankful that more awareness is being brought forward that this is normal practice.  However, what I'd like to see are stories where management bullying and superhuman expectations are not condoned by executives who really believe what their PR states:  they promote life/work balance and want happy employees.  Let's hear more stories where managers are held accountable, if not fired for bullying or threatening behaviour. 

It ain't rocket science:  happy employees are productive employees.  I'm sure somewhere, scientific data demonstrates how this counterproductive culture ends up costing the company more.  Unfortunately, forcing employees to cheat or managers to bully isn't the way to solve the problem, it just compounds it. 

I was floored the other day when I read an article from a CEO who has earned the distinction of having their PR stories shared.  Makes one a little skeptical whether they wrote it themselves or had their marketing or PR team tell the tale ... It was along the lines of getting the right people in the right place doing the right things ... blah blah blah.   I know for a fact that the same organization does not examine its managers style in garnering performance.  Sure there are feedback surveys but who in their right mind wants to be honest when they're already insecure enough as it is.  The executives appear to either turn a blind eye to the extent to which managers are meeting KPI (Key Performance Indicators) or under the false impression that they are following healthy avenues to get results.   Perhaps their own executive team is encouraging the dysfunction based on their own insecurities?

In today's world, HR has a lot of pressure placed upon it:  recruiting the "right" people, sometimes onboarding, managing benefits, offering training,  mediating conflicts, terminating employees, etc. etc. while they are suppose to be the watchdogs of a positive corporate culture.  The sad fact is, like everyone else in many corporations, they are being tasked to do twice as much with half the resources ... those key resources are human capital.

I had dinner with a couple of mentors the other night and one was sharing a story on how they tried to follow the company complaint process broadcast on its website and HR policies yet was not supported by HR who immediately appeared to believe the manager immediately before the employee.  This same staffer ended up resigning because of the disappointment and embarrassment for doing the "right thing".   Another situation I recall hearing is when communication was specifically forwarded to a CEO and its HR executive on bullying and favoritism by a manager ... the HR executive responded in a couple of hours to say that the matter had been investigated and was unfounded.  Sounds rather quick for an indepth investigation doesn't it? How does that sound about caring about employees coming forth with the truth?  Then there may be the question of whether they are following the right channels or process.

It doesn't take a genius to understand that employees are one of the most expensive and quickest ways to eliminate costs to corporations and many make it a acceptable practice to play with employees lives by eliminating jobs or backfilling offshore because it saves money.   Who really feels valued when they're shown time and again that they are easily expendable or can be replaced at a heartbeat.

Recently, I heard a new term to me on CNN called "Moral Capitalization".  Basically,  the interpretation is that it is perfectly normal for organizations to backfill people with offshore workers at a fraction of the salary or hourly wage to save on the bottom line.  It came up at least, but not a heck of a lot of indignation.  The threat is real yet I'm not hearing much about it.  I consider myself rather tuned in.  Maybe I'm not.  I'm a cup full person I like to think ... if I'm not questioning where the rest disappeared to?

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth,
 but most of them pick themselves up
and hurry off  as if nothing ever happened.”

~Winston Churchill

 Granted, executives are under extreme pressure to provide shareholder value which fuels the engine and pays their big salaries.  It is fine for the media to examine whether executives earn their inflated salaries and bonuses but really who ends up being held accountable?  I respect the pressure they're under but isn't it normal that you are paid for doing your job which equates with the responsibility you have!?! 

One of my wishes would be more accountability and media stories about those who fall into the habit of bringing costs into check by eliminating jobs as a quick out to savings.  Isn't it kinda like knowing your fuel gauge is showing you're almost on empty while you try coasting downhill with your foot off the gas thinking you'll get further?  It doesn't eliminate the fact that you need to refill the tank.  

What about stupid spending and inflated salaries?  Maybe we're getting there slowly in my own country, Canada, who is fielding a rather large controversy of out of this world spending by Senators.  Subnote:  which is being overshadowed fiercely by the drama unfolding of Rob Ford, Toronto's Crack Mayor.  It appears human nature prefers scandal over fairness.  Even in my own City, Calgary, in the final weeks leading up to our Civic Election, the media was catching momentum on sharing how taxes were escalating like crazy.   Yet, the leadership was re-elected despite what was unfolding.  I can't help but wonder when the poor workers at City Hall are going to be laid off as a means to get costs under control because the media exposure causing the populace to complain resulting in a show of fiscal responsibility?  I know, it is a vicious cycle.   One can't help but think change will not occur if the same people are continually rewarded for unacceptable behaviour.  Have we just been conditioned to accept it as normal?  What does it say about the generation who is being raised under this picture?  How to you secure your future so it isn't your kids responsibility when you are being squeezed so tight to make ends meet that putting away a nest egg so we don't have to rely on those kids to help us when we retire because we aren't saving enough for our golden years.  Not sounding like golden years to many anymore.

I've openly been a huge advocate of Don Collins book "Good to Great" and know leaders who personally are invested in creating the culture promoted that creates a self-sustaining company that will serve generations to come.  I know of two executives that I know are disciples to the lesson unfolded in the book that come to mind:  One is actually doing a phenomenal job of following the practices demonstrated in the book and the other "thinks" it is being done. One does it by default, unconsciously and would never condone it what I'm talking about here.  I would even go so far as to say that they would fire a manager who was caught bullying employees never mind making them fearful of expiration if they didn't produce more.  Another biggie is one of the companies in his book ... are practicing this horrid behaviour ... the founders are likely rolling in their graves!  Don't get me ramped up on Code of Ethics.  We've all signed them.  Even the organization that says that inter office affairs lead to disciplinary action, including losing one's job, if a manager engages in a relationship with a subordinate.  Never mind if that subordinate just had a brand new baby and a wife dealing with post partum depression, escapes through the affair.  What happens to the employee who brings it up to the person responsible for upholding corporate morality?  If they aren't so uncomfortable they leave, they may have a cause for termination surface.  That, promotes keeping your mouth shut if you know what's good for you doesn't it?

Bullying and making employees fearful of keeping their jobs or being replaced is real and happens daily. Will someone please start bringing to light the organizations where executives are not examining their managers' behaviour?  It seems to me that the only way the unscrupulous behaviour will be stopped is when the media or someone starts uncovering dysfunction and the horrid practice of eliminating spending on the backs of real people.  These are the same people who when employed, buy cars and upgrade homes, AND fuel the economy!

If one is constantly under the fear of losing one's job, they are not going to spend money.  Even more realistic, groceries, gas and sundries prices continue to rise, yet salaries don't increase at the same pace.  Fearful employees don't ask to collect overtime for doing a job that a manager has set at superhuman levels and bullies staff and more often holding them fearful.

What a vicious circle!  Eventually it is going to cost more than just money.  What about health?  Heart attacks, stroke and many ailments are compounded by stress.  Does it make sense to allow companies to boast about employee value but nobody monitors it?  It sounds good to increase shareholders or attract customers.  How about citizens, customers, shareholders rally together and stop supporting organizations that don't practice what they preach?  How about they start asking if the only way the corporation saves money is from layoffs or offshoring jobs?   Or, how about turnover being monitored more closely so that the investment in an employee isn't being lost because they leave before they become honest and say how they really feel?   That drains corporate finances but why isn't anyone really bringing forth these exits.  I should back up, I did read one article a couple of months ago that a powerful organization was dealing with a mass exodus of some of its people. 

Nothing is going to change unless every single person thinks that they can make a difference.  That their voice will be heard.  That they can be honest on feedback without repercussions of losing their job or made to feel so uncomfortable that the morals promoted when they were hired were not just blowing smoke.  That executives are more concerned with the health of the organization through its employees being productive by moderate means and real life balance than its financials.  Sounds like Utopia to me.

Let's start the dialogue now!  Let's stop promoting the IPO of Twitter, who the average middle wage employee couldn't dream of investing in because they're planning for not if, but when, their job will be eliminated.

I would rather be a little nobody, then to be a evil somebody.”
Abraham Lincoln

Do you have a story to tell?  Do you know someone who has been bullied at work, or was it you?  Do you agree with what I'm saying?  Let me see your comments, please.

“No, you don't know what it's like
When nothing feels all right
You don't know what it's like
To be like me
To be hurt
To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you're down
To feel like you've been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one's there to save you
No, you don't know what it's like
Welcome to my life

Simple Plan

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