The Importance of Eliminating Bad Behavior That Damages Your Culture

“Ron, you know someone needs to talk to XXX because he does
not know how to talk to people. He is so rude.”
The other gentleman in my office said, “you have to realize
that he has worked here for seven years in HR under XXX.” That statement
changed the conversation immediately.
Everyone knew that the person he mentioned was beyond
difficult to work for. It was like he had a vendetta against anyone that walked
through the door. So as the saying goes, the apple does not fall far from the
We have all run into these type bosses in our career. If you
have not, my father has a favorite saying for you — “Just keep on living.”
Learning from a bad boss

I had a boss in a prior job that took pride in that
approach. She was proud of the fact that when she visited one of the other
offices, no one would look her in the eye because when she did show up, layoffs
always followed. She simply loved the dynamic of that perception.
I have always felt that the
greatest learning environment is working for a terrible boss
. You get a
front row VIP seat to hypocrisy, favoritism and fear mongering.  These type of activities undermine honesty and integrity at
work. As a matter of fact, they are the trifecta of the biggest ethical
problems in the workplace.
Employees feel comprised by the day-to-day hypocrisy and
broken promises they frequently see. I was involved in a situation years back
where I was told by senior leadership that I would be a candidate for a top
role. Very excitedly, I prepared — and prepared some more.
A little later, I got a call from a friend who is an
executive head hunter who told me that my company was going to focus on looking
outside and would not be considering internal candidates. When I requested a
meeting with senior leadership to get some clarification, all of a sudden
everybody was too busy to talk and I could not get the appointment. With
that, I made my decision and I was gone within two weeks.
A manager’s word is your bond. Once you lose that and you
are perceived as wishy-washy,
no one believes in you anymore. In my situation. the trust was broken and that
could not be repaired. In hindsight, it was the best career move I ever made.
Hypocrisy, favoritism lurking around
Hypocrisy and favoritism are detrimental factors that will
ignite a troubled workplace. But, they are not the sole province of leadership
because they can also come from employees and departments within the
This was a finding that caught my eye when I was reviewing
turnover metrics, because the numbers were creeping up and there was
considerable churn within the company.  Once I started digging down into the turnover metrics, it
became apparent that the driving force for our company turnover was in one
department. That department was run by a manager who would not step up and
manage. His departmental No. 2 was full of hypocrisy and favoritism and wore
them like a badge.
He was completely out of control  – and he was just a
first-level manager.
Once we addressed that situation, the turnover numbers
stabilized. The point is, we always pair leadership with bad behavior, but in
the right atmosphere, this can permeate an entire organization.

Setting the wrong
tone in your workplace
Like a cancer if not treated, bad behavior will spread
rapidly through the organization. When employers play favorites or look the
other way on some questionable behavior, they are doing more harm than they
realize in what is an already ethically challenged society.  Yes, they are setting a clear tone of unethical leadership
within an organization.
Like actors, some will emulate that ethically challenged
profile and play it to Oscar-worthy performances. In grade school it was called
being the “teacher’s pet.” Once someone felt that, they plowed through everyone
else with the force of an out-of-control car.
These type of situations are the root causes of dysfunction
in the workplace. The main focus of a business will always be the bottom line,
however creating a fertile work environment should also take center stage
because there is a direct connection between the bottom line and the
organization’s work environment.

Listen closely to
your troops
I’m not talking about the perks that we read about from the
Google’s or the Facebook’s of the world. I’m talking about an incubator that
creates a workforce environment that is stress free, collaborative, and most of
all, free from all the self-serving foolishness that goes on in all-too-many
As you take a culture audit of your workplace, listen
closely to the voices of your troops. They are on the front line and can help
target the miscreants that make everybody’s work life miserable.
This will take more than a mission/value/culture statement
because words on a document mean nothing unless everybody buys in. Let
the miscreants know
that you will not tolerate their bad behavior for a second, regardless of their
After a few of these are met head-on, the word will trickle
down and your workforce will love you for it.

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