Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a novella by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. It is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.
A strange world straight from a 1886 novella
Many organizations host split characters disguised behind title and empowerment . On the one hand, you can have a manager or leader who presents themselves well for executives, leadership or bosses (Dr. Jekyll) while being quite the nightmare when they are dealing with employees (Mr or Ms Hide).
That's where the play on words for this title comes from. There are people in organizations who are genuine, friendly and personable in front of their leadership and bosses, then quite the nightmare for the employees they supervise. They "hide" their meanness and vindictive behavior.
When an employee goes off the rails, Dr. Jekyll readily labels the employee as a "troublemaker". The company takes the trusted Mr. Hide's word.
As always, my writing reflects various topics on business and leadership, without revealing the source, as a means of communicating real problems that exist in companies.
Whistle blower or trouble maker?
Most organizations have protected themselves from publicity or public scrutiny by activating measures that are designed to allow employees the freedom to express concern without fear of ramifications. What happens when their manager, Mr. Hide, labels them as a trouble maker? Is that label open for examination or accepted as truth?
Some organizations set out policies and processes to allow employees to express concerns about their managers under various feedback forums and surveys. It is not surprising that it is a fear injected process or a tattle tale curriculum.
It seems to always work out in the movies that Mr. Hide is easily identified by the audience without much effort. Hollywood likes to show how whistle blowers are often discriminated against or labelled negatively in order to protect Mr. Hide's mistakes and not held accountable to making slanderous career-limiting identifiable labels.
So is a whistle blower really a trouble maker?
How about an employee who follows the companies process only to fall victim of being labeled a trouble maker.
What happens, and it does, when a whistle blowing culture evolves into tattle tales that are lodged as a complaint to disguise a bullying environment or clique that discriminates against their colleagues, who was hired and held up to scrutiny in the same fashion.
Only in Hollywood is the offensive tattle tale exposed as a means to discredit someone else as a means to avoid being discovered to have the wrong behavior. If someone is doing something that is wrong ethically, why is it that their best defense is to go on the offensive?
Whistle blow or tattle tale?
A whistle blow is not held in the same characterization as a tattle tale. Yet, the most sophisticated, well-intentioned organizations can fall into this trap. They have a hard time distinguishing between the two: whistle blow or tattle tale.
How accountable are organizations in finding managers or leaders who are quick to judge or label employees? Where does the benefit of the doubt come into the equation? Who finds fault with guilt until proven innocent allowed?
Often, whistle blowers become us versus them. The more controversial the claim, the more likely a whistle blower is labelled as a trouble maker. Even Hollywood loves such a plot: the underdog versus Goliath.
Why even bother expressing concerns of unprofessional conduct of a manager when one knows that they will only be labelled as a trouble maker, easily expendable?
Why not examine the differences between a tattle tale and a whistle blow? If it is easy for Hollywood and Televisionland to identify the culprit in the story as someone who accuses someone else of doing something wrong in order to protect themselves from being found out, why can't companies?
Seems like an easy plot, easily identified with, but rarely considered in the real world.
I get that a complaint lodged has to be examined and considered without bias. So why do companies allow the manager who is not trained in mediation to be the one to taint an employee's reputation or damage their record?
If a manager knows that an employee has a reasonable concern, why would they go on the offensive instead? We understand that drama in the workplace is disruptive and toxic. Yet so is bias from managers.
We must consider that the drama that unfolds can be more likely because someone is protecting their own reputation and in so doing, tries to destroy the reputation of another.
The situation at hand was where an employee considered a workplace romance distracting and toxic to their work environment. As proof, they decided to take a picture of the cozy duo to bring forward to discuss with the manager.
What exploded was the offenders not only discriminating against the observer, rallying together and calling the battle cry with others to lodge a formal complaint against an individual. That individual could have just denied taking a picture because nobody had seen a picture, just the act of taking a picture. Why wouldn't drawing in a crowd to the incident, harming someone's reputation, placing them as the subject of gossip be considered just as harmful to a positive work environment?
Meanwhile, the offenders are allowed to go into Tattle Tale mode::.... if one reports an incident and makes it sound very disruptive, it is easy for the company to label who the trouble maker is. Right? Well, unfortunately, in real instances, the trouble maker should be considered as the parties who lodged the complaint to remove their own unprofessional conduct and transplant it onto someone else.
Wag the dog
Is a descriptive used in themes whereby in order to avoid a controversy, the person(s) at the center of a potential controversy creates drama or an explosive claim or action in order to avoid fielding anything negative or drawing attention to their own poor behavior.
Companies fall into this trap for many reasons. One could hypothesize or guess that at its core would be legal disasters or damaging reputation being paramount. In the two instances I am familiar with, confidential sources private, the person or persons lodging the complaint were immediately defended and protected. The subject of the complaint was not. Companies don't always have a means to protect the subject of a complaint. They may not even defend the subject or examine whether the complaint was a proactive defensive offensive move.
It isn't surprising when the person in this situation decides they have nothing more to lose, because they have already been labeled and motions are made to make it uncomfortable for the employee, pushing them to leave the company. Case dismissed. Problem solved?
Hardly. Companies can be their own worst enemy. They allow skewed perceptions by untrained managers to mediate, defending them-selves and the tattle tale, allowing anyone to be labeled a trouble maker. Behind closed doors. Conversed openly with other managers, a nail in the coffin on employable opportunities within the company that would otherwise allow an employee who could prove greater value if they were to move elsewhere within the organization to flourish and contribute more. Never mind if it were to be leaked while an outside job search is considered.
The employee told me that a central manager displayed a white board outside their work area "are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?" That seems to communicate the strategy of making life so unbearable for perceived trouble makers that they have little choice but to look for employment elsewhere. The company loses. They have gone through the expense to hire, train and coach such employee, increasing in cost when they've been there for a couple of years. That is a drain on finances and strains resources by stretching other employees to make up for the gap. It also may take a while to fill in the position, along with expense to bring the next person up to the same level of knowledge and training as the employee that was forced to be so uncomfortable they decided to leave.
In the scenario that was confided to me, the manager's boss, must have seen that whiteboard that displayed those words. I am writing this blog because I have faith in most leadership. Such a display of tactical efforts to rid the company by the manager's labeled undesirables or trouble makers would shock others as much as it did me. It makes it easy to see the tactical culture where one is squeezed to leave, because it is right there out front and centrally displayed and communicated. Being an optimist by nature, I would think that leadership would be shocked but such display and discipline to the manager's scribe instigated, demanding it be removed. Unfortunately, if other leaders have been in the area and not done anything about it, it could suggest they endorse the strategy.
While unemployment is higher than average, it shouldn't mean that employers allow managers to take a vice grip style on managing employees. Ready to scoop up anyone they decide is harder to manage than most, and tactically allowed to pressure employees to leave. Not easily identified. Except in this instance by its exact words, the displayed quote on a whiteboard can indicate that it is a philosophy shared not only by the manager, but by the manager's leadership. Including the boss and the boss' boss, if circulating among staff is a company directive.
Then again, any employee could observe such an aggressive stance on managing employees out the door. If they were to take a picture of toxic, discriminatory behavior, they can fall prey to being labeled undesirable, a formal complaint initiated. That person's career within that company doomed.
What bothered my confidential subject the most was that they were considered guilty long before any investigation was launched. If they had asked anyone's advice beforehand, they would have been told "deny, deny, deny". So why not lie in this instance? Just say that they did not take any such picture for evidence of the cliquey, toxic workplace.
Instead, the employee didn't lie. They were honest and apologetic, agreeing that their approach was not necessarily the right approach. However, they did say that they did reach out to the offenders, with proof shown to the investigators, that they did try to resolve the offensive behavior privately between the employees. Instead, the tattle tale culture prevailed and allowed the victim to become the defendant. Sound wrong?
It sounds to me that good intentions can become misaligned when people are caught doing something wrong and then are allowed to disrupt the work environment by making claims that move the spotlight from themselves to another party. The assumption of guilt can be misplaced when a complaint is launched. How many companies actually examine whether the complainant(s) are more disruptive and toxic than the party to which they are trying to shift the blame to?
That is what it appears to me anyhow. What do you think? Worth considering by companies who have created a tattle tale culture under the guise of allowing coachable feedback to be the norm.
I guess that is usually when the media or Hollywood intervene. It becomes great plots where the underdog goes up against the great Goliath, the company. The truth eventually prevails and the underdog becomes triumphant when their reputation is restored and the wrongdoers are identified as the party(s) who launched the complaint in order to disguise their own misbehavior.
If cheating on spouses among employees, whether real or imagined, is an area companies don't want to pursue, that is fine. It is not my place to decide. I just write about it. However, creating a work atmosphere that allows such antics, a company is allowing toxic behavior to continue that can offend and impact other employees' values, beliefs and trust that the company will protect them against eroding cultural acceptance.
I'm optimistic enough that many leaders of company's would react the same way I did: of the opinion that some managers don't promote employee well being.
Or, taking a chapter from the parenting I had: a tattle tale is often disciplined more than shifting to the person they are trying to blame. Then again, parents know and recognize such a tactic.
Some cultural environments are not always in sync with promoting employee well being, even if their public-facing literature says so because it can be undermined by their managers' habits.
Another example: allowing managers to reach out to communicate by email, text or phone calls when employees are on official vacation. That probably isn't a culture of well being underscored. Instead alarm bells on such practice would be a good start for companies to consider. Are they allowed to call a reported sick employee and justified by the belief that the employee may be dishonest? One would think the screening process would be strong enough to identify potential recruits who fake illness to avoid going into work. It demonstrates mistrust by a manager who is suppose to be an advocate and supporter of the employees that report to them.
My blog and writing is separate from any personal employment and past employers experiences, unless noted. It is my personal opinion and avoids incriminating any specific corporate philosophy or employer, past employer or company. I write to create conversations that potentially change how leadership and business act. I have not, up to this point, received any monetary endorsement, reward or income from writing this blog. I honor the privacy of the individual(s) who trust me enough to share their stories and will protect their identity to avoid disciplinary actions taken against them and their reputation.