Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Horrible Work Organizations: A Correspondent Writes

In my own case the situation at work hasn't been resolved and my physician has signed me off, not as being unfit for work so much as my work place is not a fit place to employ staff. This is daft. Several colleagues are also off, one in a very bad way, one in a very dark place and one who is obviously showing signs of stress and depression all caused by inappropriate behaviour by some lunatics and an institution which is in denial about its own nastiness. I suspect that the senior managers can not even begin to countenance the reality of the heap of dung on which they are perched because to do so would disturb them so much, they have to deny it to maintain their own self esteem. They are being manipulated into doing this by  those to whom they turn for advice and those people may well be they key malignant figures in the corporate landscape. It is not for nothing that my employing institution is in the top ten institutions in its sector for spending money on legal advice. It has to defend its own utter fictional fragility in some way. So what will it take for the institution to come out of denial?  A suicide? A murder? If that was the case the denial would take the form of 'well it is known that that specialist subject attracts lunatics who are in need of help' and so it is the the case of the late Ms So'n'So whose tragic and untimely demise .... The script would be written by the very people whose madness drives the sane insane. Is this too black for you?  Just think of the loss of faith in some communities in their big institions, e.g. Spain where the Catholic Church, and the 'banks' have all lost the esteem with which they were once held in a very short space of time.  What is left for 'the people' to hold on to? In the workplace, why should the madness not continue and its victims grow larger.  Because that is the way they do things there. It cannot last. But it is the reality for the moment.

Workplace Bullying: CEO's and St(r)ategic Plans

It is never far from the concerns of the good Occupational Health professional, that bullying in the workplace gives rise to a very high percentage of sickness absence accounted for as work-related stress. In addition, the psychological damage done by bullying in the workplace extends into domestic and other relations.  A volume I was introduced to lately bears the title 'The No Asshole Culture'  (Sutton 2007) and is given over advising on how to build workplaces which have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and other forms of demeaning behaviours. It is a sad sate of affairs for the non-asshole as defined by Sutton, and indeed those with power to exorcise assholes from the workplace, that those to whom they turn to for advice to reshape the culture of their organisation may indeed be inviting the chief culprits into their den, thereby giving them more power to wield their destructive behaviour.  I was reminded of this recently in a BBC TV Horizon programme on psychopaths in the workplace. As I recall it, the programme suggested there are four times the number of psychopaths at senior positions within large corporations and bureaucracies than there are in the general population. This should cause us, the working class some concern. One of the terrifying characteristics of psychopaths is that they believe their own lies and spend a good deal of their formidable powers into making their peers, managers and subordinates believe their lies.

On learning of their prevalence among the change-masters within organisations, it was with some horror that I came to the realisation that the psychopath-bully target large bureuacracies and corporations in the same way that a paedophile might target a residential facility for children in statutory care, be it run by the state, the county or a private provider. The psychopath thrives on maintaining their own self-delusion by preying on others weaknessess, for example the naive employee's belief that senior executives are in office because they are good and trustworthy people.  Beware: if a senior manager seems too good to be true, they probably are.