Thursday, December 3, 2009
To deal with workplace psychopaths, employers and employees have to know how to recognize them. You will be wrong in thinking that if you encounter a workplace psychopath you will identify him or her straightaway. In fact it is not obvious if you have not come across one before. You can be easily fooled and often charmed by them. You do not suspect anything until you begin to feel trapped and controlled by them.
To make the situation worse, they might be highly respected by their superiors because they usually have a drive, high level of energy, are highly intelligent, appear as natural leaders and they get things done. The paradox is that if you start to complain about their behavior you may appear as an incompetent underachiever who cannot cope with stress or the demands of work. Psychopaths love chaos and hate rules, so they're comfortable in the fast-moving modern corporation
Below are 10 ways to recognize a Workplace Psychopath at Your Company:
1. Comes across as smooth, polished and charming to impress and influence others.
2. Turn most conversations around to a discussion of him or herself to get publicity and reputation.
3. Silent sabotage, discredits, puts down others in order to build up own image and reputation.
4. Over exaggerating, faking data, lies to coworkers, customers, or business associates with straight face.
5. Considers people he or she has outsmarted or manipulated as dumb or stupid.
6. Opportunistic; insincere, arrogant, untrustworthy, take chance, hates to lose, plays ruthlessly to win.
7. Comes across as cold and calculating, put blame to others and make them as scapegoats.
8. Act in an unethical or dishonest manner for taking credit and gaining advantages from others.
9. Create a power network in the organization especially Human Resource VP/director and uses it for personal gains.
10. Shows no regret for making decisions that negatively affect the organization, peers, company, shareholders, or employees to achieve personal goals.
Corporate psychopaths use arrogance and superficial charm to scale the top of the ladder, knocking off whoever gets in their way, White collar psychopaths will defraud people of their life savings, then quite happily go to the Mediterranean, have a villa and never give it a thought.
People might say he or she is charismatic, high profile or 'gets things done'. We have a whole series of euphemisms for the individual who may be self centred, grandiose, lacking in empathy and does not give a damn about everybody else.
Such people are social predators who do not get bothered by ordinary social anxieties. They are self serving individuals, he explained.
Their only concern is food. They see the world as one large watering hole. Their resources are sex, power and money.
Victimization in the work environment can take many forms and can be, in varying degrees, dependent upon the conditions and circumstances. Sometimes problems occur that are more blatant than others, and there are those that are insidious and, ultimately, highly destructive in nature to both the individual and the organization itself.
The Queen Bee
The Queen Bee Syndrome is one such relevant phenomenon. This syndrome usually predominates in environments where a female is the supervisor or leader of the organization or department and has female employees working under her. Female leaders in positions of power, and who comprise this syndrome, have an overwhelming desire to be in control of all things and all people at all times. They can, oftentimes, be ruthless in their quest to do so.
It is not uncommon for Queen Bees to feel threatened by one or more female employees who work for them, particularly if they are highly educated and skilled in their profession with a commendable work history. The Queen Bee views the employees under her as competition. If the employees are well-liked and respected in their chosen career field, and have developed a positive reputation beyond the immediate workplace, the Queen Bee can find that intimidating and lash out at the employees in revenge. Consequently, employees who work for a Queen Bee supervisor may become victimized in their work environments as a result of the power plays that occur and the manner in which they are treated.
Queen Bee supervisors have a desire to feel important at the expense of others. They may treat female employees differently than males, levy more difficult requirements on them, and set unreasonable standards for them to meet. The Queen Bee may target a specific employee and deliberately initiate derogatory and unfair comments that cast an unfavorable impression of the employee to others. As a result, the supervisor may taint the perception of colleagues concerning the employee. In these situations where the syndrome prevails, it is not uncommon for the supervisor to deny a female employee requests for pay increases, training, and other growth opportunities. The Queen Bee does not want the employee to further develop within the organization or enhance her skills or expertise for fear that she could outshine the supervisor. Moreover, the supervisor prefers to keep the female employee confined to the office where she can be closely observed and does not want the employee to be placed in other situations where she has exposure to other people and opportunities that could likely enhance her professional image.
During staff meetings, any input by the female employee may be counteracted with negative reactions by the supervisor that include disapproval of ideas and suggestions, unfavorable responses, and obvious body language such as rolling of the eyes and headshaking that connotes unremitting disapprobation. It is not inconceivable for the Queen Bee, in the employee's absence, to search the employee's work area to see what mail she is receiving and who she is having contact with.
When it comes time for the employee's performance review, the Queen Bee is in a position to cause egregious harm to the employee. Despite the fact that the employee may be doing her job and doing it well, the supervisor can choose to give her a poor evaluation and cite her for a less than satisfactory performance. Though the employee may be able to write a rebuttal or have an appeal, the employee is still affected and may not be believed because the Queen Bee is in a position of power that, in and of itself, has clout to carry legitimate weight. Thus, the supervisor may be deemed credible simply because of the position she holds, and the employee is victimized in the process.
A victim of the Queen Bee Syndrome feels isolated and will not confide the extent of her victimization to others in the workplace because of uncertainty about whom she can trust. The victim who suffers in the work environment can be greatly affected by all that occurs. Due to the continual stress she experiences, the victim can develop health problems that can commonly include gastrointestinal disorders, dysfunctional sleep patterns, and anxiety.
The victim may realize that the Queen Bee is doing all in her power to either force her out or have her fired by writing negative performance ratings. Before that happens, the victim experiences a sense of urgency and knows she must leave to survive--both professionally and personally. When she attempts to look for other jobs, she faces the possibility that her Queen Bee supervisor can provide a negative referral to any interested prospective employer which can result in the employee feeling victimized to an even greater extent.
Despite the ideology put forth that women look out for other women and help them advance, this is not necessarily valid in all circumstances. Though there are many female supervisors who are secure within themselves and recognize that a quality employee who excels will enhance the organization as well as reflect positively on the supervisor's leadership, there still remain those who view the relationship as competitive and threatening. For employees who are conscientious, responsible, and highly qualified in their field of expertise, the victimization that can occur as a result of the Queen Bee Syndrome in the workplace is a devastating blow. Victims whose lives are impacted by this syndrome are negatively affected in numerous ways that can have deleterious consequences accompanied by enduring bad memories.
Mobbing In The Workplace
What is mobbing?
The word bullying is used to describe a repeated pattern of negative intrusive violational behaviour against one or more targets and comprises constant trivial nit-picking criticism, refusal to value and acknowledge, undermining, discrediting and a host of other behaviours
The word mobbing is preferred to bullying in continental Europe and in those situations where a target is selected and bullied (mobbed) by a group of people rather than by one individual. However, every group has a ringleader. If this ringleader is an extrovert it will be obvious who is coercing group members into mobbing the selected target. If the ringleader is an introvert type, he or she is likely to be in the background coercing and manipulating group members into mobbing the selected target; introvert ringleaders are much more dangerous than extrovert ringleaders.
In a mobbing situation, the ringleader incites supporters, cohorts, copycats and unenlightened, inexperienced, immature or emotionally needy individuals with poor values to engage in adversarial interaction with the selected target. The ringleader, or chief bully, gains gratification from encouraging others to engage in adversarial interaction with the target. Many people use the word "mobbing" to describe this pack attack by many on one individual. Once mobbing is underway the chief bully foments the mobbing into mutually assured destruction, from which the chief bully gains intense gratification - this is a feature of people with psychopathic personality.
One aspect of psychopathic bullies is that they home in on Wannabe types - non-psychopathic lesser bullies - and then empower these individuals to gain the positions of power and authority they crave. Once installed, the Wannabe's lack of competence makes them dependent on the chief psychopath, which means they become unwitting but willing compliant puppets. They also make perfect corporate clones and drones. A characteristic of the Wannabe is that as well as lacking all the competencies necessary for their position, they also lack the intellect to understand the nature and manner of their compliant subservience.
Throughout the mobbing experience, the target is deceived into fighting, blaming and trying to hold accountable the minor bullies of the mobbing group rather than the chief bully. The main reason a psychopathic chief bully gets away with his (or her) behaviour repeatedly is that no-one wants to believe that s/he could be the monster s/he is. This is also the reason that many pedophiles and wife-batterers evade accountability and sanction for years, often decades. They appear so charming and plausible to naive, unenlightened and inexperienced people - usually those who haven't experienced bullying themselves. Psychopathic chief bullies are very likely to have everyone in human resources and management in their pocket, who are then manipulated into further mobbing, victimising and persecuting the target.
The golden rule when tackling a mobbing situation is, I believe, to identify and focus exclusively on the chief bully, and concentrate on holding this ringleader accountable. Expect an immediate increase in mobbing activities, and a rapidly-expanding web of deceit to be concocted against you. Alternatively, the best solution may be to make a positive decision to leave and refuse to allow these people to continue to ruin your career, your health and your life. In the unlikely event that the psychopathic chief leader is exposed and then leaves, the dysfunction, aggression and negative feelings fostered by him or her are likely to linger for years.
Bullying In The Workplace Can Cause
Injury to health and makes you ill. How many of these symptoms do you have?
* constant high levels of stress and anxiety
* frequent illness such as viral infections especially flu and glandular fever, colds, coughs, chest, ear, nose and throat infections (stress plays havoc with your immune system)
* aches and pains in the joints and muscles with no obvious cause; also back pain with no obvious cause and which won't go away or respond to treatment
* headaches and migraines
* tiredness, exhaustion, constant fatigue
* sleeplessness, nightmares, waking early, waking up more tired than when you went to bed
* flashbacks and replays, obsessiveness, can't get the bullying out of your mind
* irritable bowel syndrome
* skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, athlete's foot, ulcers, shingles, urticaria
* poor concentration, can't concentrate on anything for long
* bad or intermittently-functioning memory, forgetfulness, especially with trivial day-to-day things
* sweating, trembling, shaking, palpitations, panic attacks
* tearfulness, bursting into tears regularly and over trivial things
* uncharacteristic irritability and angry outbursts
* hypervigilance (feels like but is not paranoia), being constantly on edge
* hypersensitivity, fragility, isolation, withdrawal
* reactive depression, a feeling of woebegoneness, lethargy, hopelessness, anger, futility and more
* shattered self-confidence, low self-worth, low self-esteem, loss of self-love, etc
* overwhelming fatigue
* pains in the joints and muscles with no obvious cause
* occasional bursts of energy, followed by exhaustion and joint/muscle pain
* inability to concentrate
* poor recall, eg words, sentence construction, etc
* mood swings, including anger and depression
* difficulty in learning new information
* sense imbalances, eg in smell, taste and appetite
* dislike of loud noises and bright lights
* inability to control body temperature
* sleep disturbance (eg sleeping by day and waking at night)
* disturbance of balance
* clumsiness, eg unable to grasp small objects, inability to separate sheets of paper
The Differences Between A Manager And A Bully
For more on the Workplace Bully
"Stress is not the employee's inability to cope with excessive workloads and the unreasonable demands of incompetent and bullying managers; stress is a consequence of the employer's failure to provide a safe system of work as required by the UK Health & Safety at Work Act 1974."