Do you have mutineers aboard your Ship of Business?  Can you distinguish mutiny from discussion and disagreement you encourage and can you skillfully quell it? To read the rest of this article from the Washington Business Journal, see: Don’t tolerate or appease mutineers in the workplace

Mutiny is resisting, rebelling and revolting against duly constituted authority.

The way Captain Bligh dealt with resistance on the Bounty – constant flogging – isn’t a good approach.  It ultimately leads to rebellion: They jump ship or put you over the side.

The opposite approach gives equally poor results: Nice managers tolerate resistance, sabotage, and poor performance while they beg, bribe and appease mutineers to buy in and produce.

For example: Sam was mystified because he couldn’t figure out how to convince his supervisee, Jack, to perform necessary and agreed-upon tasks.  For more details, read the complete article.

Sam was wracked with self-doubt.  Had he failed to communicate clearly; been too harsh with Jack; not been sensitive enough to Jack’s possible reasons for not wanting to train Amy?

No.  It was simply that Jack was trying to make his rules, rule.  Sam had encouraged mutiny to grow like a cancer in the months when he accepted Jack’s assumptions that, until he was interested in acting differently, Jack was entitled to:

  • Refuse to train Amy.
  • Act rude, disrespectful and insubordinate to Sam.
  • Harass, bullying and abuse Sam.

Also, Sam had had accepted 100 percent of the responsibility to help Jack change his opinion.

The interactions that developed between Sam and Jack are similar to interactions between many parents and their children – parents who try to be their children’s “friends” and who assume that the best way to raise civil, strong, productive, responsible, mature adults is not to make them do anything until reason and persuasion have gained their understanding and acceptance.

Nonsense.  Parents provide encouragement, guidance and enforcement of clear boundaries of acceptable behavior – with immediate and predictable consequences for transgressions.  Children allowed to be the sole judges of the efforts they can make, usually become spoiled, weak, self-indulgent and irresponsible adults.

Ditto for adults in the workplace.  Sam was the duly constituted authority.  His primary task was not to be sweet, understanding and therapeutic; not to win Jack’s agreement and affection; and not to wait until Jack was willing to perform.  Sam’s task was to produce quality results, on time and within budget, and to hold Jack accountable for his part of that effort.

When Sam saw Jack’s resistance as mutiny, he finally told Jack that the responsibility for continued employment was Jack’s.  Jack’s primary loyalty must be to their mission and the performance and deadlines required.

One problem with the approach of reasoning, tolerating, appeasing, begging and bribing forever is that children won’t believe you when you begin to apply consequences.  That’s your fault.   You’ve already trained them to think that if they resist persistently, eventually you’ll give in.   When you finally try to suppress the mutiny they’ll either sabotage or react with shock, outrage and, sometimes, legal action,

Jack chose not to continue working in a company in which his rules no longer ruled.  In his exit interview, Jack admitted he never thought Sam would face his anger and carry through.  His parents had allowed him to act any way he wanted while they re-negotiated their requests.  He thought Jack would also.  Would your opinion of Jack change if you knew he wasn’t 22; he was 35?

If you don’t recognize and squash mutiny, it’ll grow unchecked until it sinks your ship.  Ask for what you want, you’ll get what you’re willing to tolerate.

Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation.  To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.