Motivation, Workplace

Bullies in the workplace – How they affect productivity?

Have you ever experience one of the following on your workplace:  personal attacks like yelling or threats, insults, laughing at you when you fail, spreading rumours, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public, unrealistic deadlines or being push to complete a task for which you have not being trained.

Those are examples of bullying, and it does exist in the workplace.  The perpetrator can be someone who feels threaten, is jealous, insecure, unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.

Consequences from this behavior goes from personal issues (health complications, self-esteem, emotional) to productivity loss.  Targets are very skilled people, highly competent, perhaps a new employee who has been very successful on a similar role, likeable people or with a lot of technical knowledge and/or experience.  Targets are usually the kind of people who is more prone to support continuous improvement initiatives.

I have been witness of this kind of behavior, it is horrible.  It not only affect the target but the people around as well.  It takes away your peace of mind, your focus and make you feel that if you are successful enough; you will be the next target.  It creates stress, which we all know is a source of hypertension, depression and anxiety.  Sickness creates attendance problems, work will accumulate, due dates wont be met, maybe will affect customers.

This cost money:  higher absenteeism rate usually creates over time and more use of medical insurance will increase premiums and compensation claims.  The team stress level increases, loosing focus and decreasing morale.  The whole situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible law suits.  Eventually, bullying targets resign and with he or she, the motivation to work and practice continuous improvement goes out of the door too.  And what is worst, the bully stays and with he/she stays the fear, incompetence, inefficiency and lack of committment.

As leaders, we need to be in the look out for bullies and stop their behavior, for the benefit of our employees.  It is our responsibility to promote a health work environment and bullying is the opposite of that.  No lean journey will be successful if we allow this kind of behavior, respect for the people is the most important mind-set for continuous improvement and bullying is a disrespectful behavior.


Why diversity is necessary?

cats-and-dogsDuring these days diversity in our work areas is more relevant than ever.  The entire nation is talking about diversity, some believe that is what make this nation great, and others think different.

One of the first courses for my master degree was organizational leadership.  To pass the class, we had to analyze a merge from the company’s culture point of view.  I chose the merge between two technology companies.  I started by reading everything I got about the buying company culture, and it was pretty clear that they belief in a diverse workforce.  They believe that their competitive advantage is achieved through their people and that they drive innovation through diversity.  Those statements were the first time I recognized there is something called diversity.

Many times after that I read about the advantages of having people from different backgrounds, race, nationality or gender together, like for example in this article from McKinsey & Company, and  Industry Week.  If we only associate with people with our same believes and point of view, we will never grow, we will never learn.  We all need the exposition to different ideas.  We need to force ourself to listen to ideas coming from people from another country, from a different political party or maybe just with a different neighborhood.  Some of those ideas or points of view may teach us something, may help us to see the world through a different color glass.

In our work areas it is particularly important to have people with different beliefs, different gender, a cross-cultural team that stop the group from falling prey of alike thinking.  No diversity means seeing the world from one color glass only, always the same think, no variety.  The group will never try to break the status quo because nobody see the necessity to do it, condemn to repeat the same mistakes over and over because nobody think different.

During my lean journey, the best ideas almost always come from the most unlikely person, the one that does not know “anything” about the process, the one exposed to a different environment, or  with a work experience on a different industry.  Perhaps come from the most quiet person, that one that does not like to talk or feel fear to do so.

During brainstorming sessions it is common to see the think alike group trying to shut people with completely different ideas.  They will go nuts to hear the “crazy” proposition, they won’t let the person talk.  We have to develop a thicker skin, learn to listen even when we don’t like or agree.  Every idea needs to be discussed for its own merits, with facts not emotions.

Our companies, neighborhoods and countries are better and stronger when we embrace diversity and tolerance,.  Not accepting it, is like walking with a blindfold, we will miss half of the great things we have around.