Your workplace has its own character and spirit—and your style sets the tone. The organizational norms that you establish largely influence how employees treat each other.
Left unchecked, destructive strains in your corporate culture can lead to outbreaks of employee violence, warns Lynne McClure, Ph.D., author of Risky Business (The Haworth Press, 1996). If you can spot many of these trouble signs, your workplace may need an overhaul:
Glorifying the “tough guy” ethic. Although it’s fine to praise employees for toughing it out and giving 110 percent in the face of adversity, beware of encouraging employees to act impulsively and show off their macho side.
Observe the way your workers handle stress or anger. If they control their rage and discuss their frustrations in a mature manner, that’s positive. But if they automatically act out what they feel, they can communicate in disruptive ways.
Endorsing tunnel vision. As most industries grow more specialized, there’s a tendency for technicians to hunker down and master intricate details of their narrowly defined jobs. But if specialists only dwell on their tiny domains, then they lack a more complete picture of how the entire business functions.
The result: Fiefdoms sprout and ruthless competition thrives. Employees put themselves first and disregard what’s best for the organization. Office politics deplete everyone’s energy, and ill will breeds suspicion and cynicism among the troops.
Looking the other way. Passive supervisors watch and wait. They might notice that an employee’s work declines or her attitude begins to sour, but they do not step in and try to help (much less document the troubling behavior). An aloof or indifferent manager can wind up with a group of remote, withdrawn “strangers” who feel no sense of camaraderie toward each other. That’s an ideal environment for sniping and me-first scheming.
Pushing too hard. If 12-hour days are the norm, then prepare for burnout. Overworked employees might snap or at least grow resentful. When employees seethe and feel prodded beyond reason, they eventually quit or rebel.