If you have a consistent pattern of avoiding evaluations, criticism, and potential conflict at work; if you hope that problems will solve themselves if left alone; if you think that the best way to motivate all employees is to give constant praise and more benefits; if you won’t say, clearly and honestly, “That’s not good enough,” then you can’t be an effective manager. You’ll create a hostile workplace; you’ll never stop bullies and bullying.

To read the rest of this article from the Denver Business Journal, see: Conflict Avoidant Managers Don't Know How to Stop Bullying http://denver.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2000/08/14/smallb4.html

“Conflict avoidant” or “conflict phobic” managers get less peace and more trouble than they hope for.  When you give up authority, standards and accountability you only make space for harassment, bullying and abuse at work to grow larger.  Professional behavior and productivity decrease, decent employees act out, pathological harassment and bullies (never satisfied by appeasement) take over and the best employees bail.

Two examples:

  1. A manager who hated confrontation and conflict supervised a team for 15 years with no performance evaluations for professional staff, all discussions done individually behind closed doors, no public disagreements allowed and all major decisions made by consensus.

The results were inevitable: crucial plans were rarely implemented; two door-slamming, senior staff took control because other employees were afraid to protest; warring cliques formed; negativity, rumors, blame, abuse and scapegoating ran rampant; bullying escalated; turnover of both professional and support staff soared.

  1. Another organization that prided itself on being caring and people-centered had not released an employee in 10 years. One employee, Rebecca, was brilliant and entertaining but was a mediocre performer who spent most of her time chatting with unproductive cronies. Her supervisor had never documented her poor performance and excessive socializing. In contrast, Grace had worked there only 6 months but had done a productive job that could have been well documented.

The supervisor preferred Grace and wanted Rebecca to leave. But, of course, Rebecca and her cronies used bullying tactics to stay and to force Grace to leave.  Why should a good producer work with managers and staff who accept dishonesty, slacking and mediocrity?

A consistent pattern of conflict avoidance is always backed by rationalizations, excuses and justifications.  Conflict avoidant managers are usually afraid of displeasing others. Actually, they’re afraid of the bullies while they ignore the pain and anger of the bullied targets.

Responsible adults don’t whine, “Why can’t we all just get along?”  They do something about it.  Leaders set the tone at work and make it happen.  If your prime directive is to get along and never confront anyone, stick to recreation sports and don’t go into business.

If you’re not sure how to evaluate; learn.  Learn to convert confrontation and conflict into discussion, and to apply the necessary accountability procedures routinely, fairly, firmly and matter-of-factly.

If you think it’s wrong to evaluate and be demanding or if you’re cowardly, then you’re not a manager.  You’ll never stop bullies or lead a high performance team, you’ll run your part of the organization into the ground and you’ll leave a really messy diaper for someone else to clean up.  You’re being disloyal to your company, your own career and the people who depend on you.

Stand up for high standards – set the tone and do the work.  Of course it’s hard - if it was easy, anyone could do it.

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