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The workplace sabotage virus: Eradicate, re-cultivate, be awesome!

October 14, 2014
Sabotage #6 by Stefan, CC

Sabotage #6 by Stefan, CC

Workplace sabotage often happens to the idealistic but sometimes it happens to the more realistic among us. What to do?

1. Recognize sabotage scenarios

“Because we’ve always done it this way.”

New ideas are blocked or killed.

Fear stems from lack of understanding.

Ideas are continually rejected out-of-hand.

Learning is devalued.

Silos and territorial thinking dominate.

Support from leadership is a mirage.

Organizational trust and interpersonal honesty are woefully deficient.

Favoritism perpetuates inequality of power.

Creativity and innovation are discouraged.

2. Develop awareness

Some degree of insecurity is likely responsible for workplace sabotage. Ascertain whether or not a saboteur’s reaction stems from unwillingness or lack of ability. Is the sabotage personal or is it about staying comfortable? How widespread is the sabotage virus? Can sincere organizational change take place? Is sabotage a matter of culture or climate? Is sabotage due to poor management (tactical) or lack of authentic leadership? Do employees know the difference? Does “Leadership” know the difference?

3. Respect organizational limitations

Change agents generally have an organizational lifecycle of about 1-3 years. They know this and they’re built for change – such is the reason they are change agents! Cultivating agents of change requires modeling behaviors and mentoring (direct or indirect). Change agents instinctively do what they do, regardless of saboteurs and critics.

That said, every organization has limitations and sometimes the organization is not ready for further change. Once limits have been realized, change agents will look for another opportunity to positively affect the world. It’s what they do, and that will not change. Resilience should never be confused with misplaced hope.

4. Eradicate the old, cultivate the new 

Encourage cohesiveness among team members. This doesn’t mean we have to conquer Mt. Rainier in the name of a team building exercise, but it does mean that we may have lost sight of working together to evolve and grow.

Openly value trust by modeling fearlessness and authenticity. Don’t just talk the talk. Make a sincere effort to do the walk – even when it’s scary.

Respectfully discuss everything. Leverage compassion and respect. Recognize and understand the careful business of  seeing one’s own faults.

Fail fast and see failures as opportunities. No [intelligent] risk = no reward.

Honor agility. Publicize wins. Breed contagious excitement. Create opportunities to spread a desirable kind of organizational virus: awesomeness.

Never underestimate employees. Someone who may appear to be stuck in the dark can possibly be coached out into the light. Perhaps nobody has ever encouraged them or they’ve had bad experiences. Perhaps they need a safe start to a new way of working. Maybe, just maybe, they’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time and will jump at the chance to excel. We won’t know unless we try.

5. Seek revenge through awesomeness

I’m not one for revenge within an aggressive context because the notion can be a little dysfunctional. However, when thinking of failures as opportunities, continuing to do one’s best in the face of workplace sabotage is a very acceptable kind of revenge. Staying at an organization where sabotage is accepted and/or facilitated by management becomes a peripheral concern when one is driven to put forth their personal brand of excellence. In the best cases, such an outlook can be infectious and motivational.

Be brave: Cultivate awesomeness by eradicating the sabotage virus in your organization!

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