Management Has a Right to a Peaceful Workplace Too!


What I am talking about is something that is considered taboo and even politically incorrect, certainly by union leadership and others who spread the self-serving myth that workers have to be protected from management. The premise being that people who work their way up from “worker to management” somehow magically become power hungry and a threat to those they supervise.

Well sometimes the opposite it true. Sometimes it is the supervisor or manager who has to be protected from a rogue worker who is intent on being as disruptive as possible, for whatever reason.

While this may be a foreign concept to those who have never been in management I guarantee anyone who has management experience is nodding their head in agreement at this very moment. They can relate.

The Gallup organization released a study a while back that identified three classifications of employees: Highly Engaged, Moderately Engaged and Actively Disengaged. In the typical company 29% of the people are highly engaged; 55% are Moderately Engaged and 16% are Actively Disengaged.

It is those who make up the 16% that this article is focused upon. Gallup describes these people as ones who are actively working against the organization. These are people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to be disruptive to management and their own colleagues. They often do this by avoiding work, challenging anything they don’t approve of, chronically complaining and stirring up co-workers who were otherwise content. The amount of stress and distress these people cause is significant, especially to their managers.

And while I have seen my share of bad management styles, most are a result of a lack of training in the human and group dynamics that one must understand in order to effectively engage and lead people around them. However, most of the bad employee antics I have seen are not a result of someone not understanding how to be a good employee.

The impact these people have is often magnified by the manager initially trying to avoid directly confronting the worker so as not to be considered a “hard-ass” or over-reactive. Then, once the manager decides to act, the process they must follow is laborious; often taking weeks and months to document EVERYTHING through a series of verbal and written warnings. This adds significantly to the manager’s workload and steals precious time which must be made up by their working late to get their regular jobs done.

Meanwhile the rogue employee is free to engage in multiple rounds of guerilla warfare using tactics that range from being moody, acting passive/aggressively and even “behaving” for a while which often results in their manager stopping the disciplinary process or even resetting the discipline clock in an act of good faith that often comes back to haunt them.

All of these tactics are purposeful and masterful acts of manipulation of a good hearted person working within a well intentioned system designed to protect workers from the exact type of abuse and anxieties the miscreant is purposefully inflicting upon others. 

Understanding the Mindset

So how does one handle one who is not only determined to be disruptive, but who is also clever enough to know the restrictions placed on management?

Well, you have to out think them. But to out think them you must first understand how they think. At the expense of oversimplifying things constantly disgruntled people fit into two basic categories:

1.  Those who feel victimized, are emotionally immature, and who lack the communication skills and/or the self confidence to address situations maturely. They may also openly pout and shut down. They see themselves as Eeyore.

2.  Those who feel victimized, are emotionally immature, are angry and aggressive, who bend truth and situations to justify their actions and who openly challenge anyone who won’t give them what they think they should have. They see themselves as a heroic Joan of Arc fighting against evil oppressors.

They both are also primarily self-centered and think the world should bend to them. When it doesn’t they make those above, around and below them pay. Because of their self centered view of life they also tend to become self-righteous which serves to allow them to justify any actions they take while keeping them conveniently able to play the role of victim.

However one of the most underhanded, but effective, traits they share is that they are manipulators of people, situations and of the truth. This often catches their managers by surprise because most people, yes even management, are honest, open and seek to move peacefully through life without creating unnecessary dramas or hurting people.

Countering Tactics – Truth, Transparency, Accountability

The first thing I do when I have identified one of these folks is that I prepare myself to encounter their manipulative and emotional based tactics. Those are two favorite tools the “Eddie Haskill’s” use to disrupt things, to keep you off balance and to secure their advantage. If you understand their game and steel yourself to resist their pull you have taken the first step in turning the advantage to your side.

I then “rise up” to a high level of professionalism and work hard to stay there. Emotion and deception is their weapon. Therefore, intellect and honesty is my counter. At the same time discipline is their weakness. This means that if I make discipline my strength I begin to build even more momentum.

I then slow….every….thing….down and I seek to clearly understand what is going on. Fast-talking and confusing issues is another tool of theirs. So I remove it from them by asking questions designed to help me methodically attempt to put their puzzle pieces together. I calmly ask for clarity on anything I don’t understand. One of my most effective phrases is: “Help me understand that better.” This allows me to hear them out if they are being honest or flush them out if they are being manipulative.

Manipulators hate being made to make their stories, their viewpoints or their thinking make sense because they have carefully created story lines that make them appear. So when you slow them down, they get tangled in the loose ends of their stories and the advantage further shifts in your direction. This is because the only thing manipulators dislike more than not getting their own way is being caught in their act.

Since lies are the manipulator’s friends that means that truth is their enemy. So seek truth. Use it. Stand for it. Because the light of truth has the same affect on the manipulator as the light of day has on the vampire. It repels and weakens them both.

In time not only will they learn that lying to you is going to be a painful experience for them but they will also learn they can’t manipulate you and in that, you begin to define that your culture is one of honesty. In doing so you are making a clear statement to them and others that neither lying nor liars are accepted or acceptable. Hopefully they respond positively to your stand for integrity and you are able to help them to save their jobs.

As you can imagine there is always more to learning how to become impervious to these workplace “vampires” who suck the energy, time and profits out of those very companies that fund their livelihood. But hopefully this information will give you a fighting chance against them. It sure works for me. 

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