Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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.

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