Dog fights at work

A little over ten years ago, there were headlines covering an NFL player’s indictment on charges of dog fighting and brutality.  There was righteous outrage across the country (as there should have been).

Too often the policies and procedures we use to measure and evaluate our people enable a form of “dog fights” at work. Physical violence isn’t the symptom, but behaviors such as favoritism and political maneuvering are the symptoms and result in:

·      Promotions of people who are not qualified and who treat others badly

·      Bonuses being awarded to those who have not fully earned them, while those who have worked very hard getting overlooked

·      Credit being taken by people without fully acknowledging those who contributed

These (and other) actions are difficult to stop and are actually encouraged as a way to survive at work.  The first step to correcting the policies and procedures is to recognize that these behaviors exists and determine if we want to do better.  It shouldn’t take us as leaders being a causality before we are willing to speak up.

Forced distribution

I believe that forced distribution of people not only obstructs achievement of collaboration and of the organizations's goals, but it is demeaning to your people.  However, this is how many companies still choose to measure their people.

As such, a couple of years ago, I was sitting in a room of managers during a calibration meeting.  An employee who was hard working, accurate and consistently went above and beyond was being discussed.  This employee's manager said she should be rated a 1 (on a scale from 1 to 4 where 1 is best).  A skip level manager said that she should be rated a 2 because: she was rated 1 the prior year, the standard for her should be higher, and she had been in that role for a while.

When we allow these types of people measurements to reign, we create environments that  demean, discourage and incubates unhealthy alliances.  When work becomes about survival, trust is eroded, and the best that people can do make take a back seat.