If you are becoming short-tempered, mean, or just nasty at work, don't blame it on your crushing workload. According to a study described in the Harvard Business Review Blog, you might be modeling your behavior after your own boss.
It's the child abuse syndrome: Those who were abused end up as abusers themselves.
The study, which was conducted by Christine Porath of Georgetown University and Christine Pearson of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, finds that 60 percent of employees "blame their bad behavior on being overloaded at work." But the research indicates other dyanamics in play, writes the authors in HBR Blog:
In one of our surveys, 25 percent of managers who admitted to having behaved badly said they were uncivil because their leaders—their own role models—were rude. If employees see that those who have climbed the corporate ladder tolerate or embrace uncivil behavior, they’re likely to follow suit.
Of course, it doesn't take a management genius to figure out that having an office full of bullies and victims doesn't make for a productive workplace. The report finds:- 48 percent of employees intentionally decreased their work effort.
- 47 percent intentionally decreased their work time.
- 80 percent lost work time worrying about their treatment.
- 66 percent said that their performance declined.
So what can businesses do to eradicate workplace incivility? The authors make a bunch of suggestions, including:
1. Promote a culture of respect and express your appreciation to employees. "Personal notes are particularly effective, especially if they emphasize being a role model, treating people well, and living the organization’s values."
2. Ask for feedback. "You may need a reality check from the people who work for you." The authors say some managers find it helpful to ask employees what they liked or didn't like about their managing styles.
3. Give lessons in civility. "We’re always amazed by how many managers and employees tell us that they don’t understand what it means to be civil." The authors suggest role playing to drive home the point.
4. Reward good behavior; penalize the bad.
All reasonable suggestions, but are lawyers apt to take any of these measures? I would have to be high to imagine partners writing personal "thank you" notes or asking underlings to assess them. As for rewarding or penalizing good/bad behavior: If you're talking about rainmakers at law firms, it's highly doubtful the word "penalty" will cross anyone's lips.
Am I overly cynical?