Archive for September, 2012

What happens outside the office DOES matter at work

Posted on September 13, 2012. Filed under: culture, personal leadership | Tags: , |

Amongst all of the things that have been written and said about the Charlotte Dawson trolling and social media situation the one that really stood out for me is this one.

That it IS important for managers and employers to take note – and perhaps action – on the activities of staff outside office hours. 

You see one of the early troll comments was (apparently) posted by an employee of a university. Yes it was done on a private account and outside office hours.

But – and it is a big one for me – don’t you think that it is highly likely that a person who is (allegedly) comfortable to bully and make threatening comments to someone outside work is also likely to be like that inside the workplace?

And yes there is a dilemma here: at what point do we feel as managers or business owners that we are over stepping the mark? At what point do employees feel that their privacy is being invaded? The other question that has been raised is what should be done about it?

Well, I disagree with those who are calling for more rules and regulations.

Enough already!

We have anti bullying legislation and policies all around us and still it goes on.

Let’s stop looking for punishment – my goodness, that seems to be similar to what the trolls attacking Charlotte (and now Robbie Farah – as well as many others).

It’s time that we look for another solution.

Yes this is my favourite Einstein quote: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

If our current framework of rules and legislation and punishment are not working, then surely it is insane (or close to it) to expect that more of the same will achieve a different result.

OK, now you’re wondering what I’m suggesting as a solution.

Well I think it is high time that we turn our attention to the communication skills of the individual.

I’ve always advocated people taking responsability for their actions – and their words. It’s about time that we looked to people being alert to the impact and consequences of what we do and say.

Consequences not necessarily being punishment (although that has it’s place especially in extreme and/or repeated cases). It’s also the consequence achieved when we are respectful towards each other.

(This image may be hard to read – if you want more info I suggest that you check out Warrior Mind. ) This picture says that it is easier to defend (or I say to attack) actions than it is to honestly examine them. If we can make this shift there will be a change in many ways.

And I believe this to be true.

It’s time that we who have influence – however large or small – begin (or continue) to help people to recognise that what they are doing or saying may reap a very different set of outcomes to what they anticipated. Or even to encourage people to think about what the outcomes may be! rather than just lashing out.

No, it won’t work in every situation – we are so very good at identifying situations where this won’t be effective (drug and/or alcohol affected individuals being one group).

My challenge to you: is finding the extreme example a reason to do nothing in all situations? If something won’t work every single time, does that mean that we discard it altogether? Gee I hope not.

We can make a difference to the issue of bullying – I believe by raising the quality of communication skills of everybody we’ll make some aware of their unintended consequences, and emplower others to address it before it becomes damaging. (and yes, once again I can see that there will be exceptional or extreme cases where this won’t work) But if I can help one person to recognise that they are acting like a bully and help them stop that, or if I can help one person to take steps to prevent themselves from feeling bullied then I’m going to do it!

Can you do something to recognise trends of poor behaviour (whether at work or outside the workplace) and take some positive and practical steps to prevent it happening again?

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