Showing posts with label Domineering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Domineering. Show all posts

January 9, 2014

Watch Out For Organizational Psychopaths

Ever feel like this at work?

The knives are flying and you're the target--where's the next one going, the heart of head?

Harvard Business Review has a telling blog about bosses at work that are borderline psychopaths.

Hard to spot because of their "chameleon-like qualities," they are:

- "Self-serving"--basically they have what I call the selfish disorder, they want power, money, and status but don't really care about the organization, mission or people, just themselves!

- "Manipulative personalities"--they hide their agendas, but work over others with charm, favors, even pretend friendship to get what they want.

- Domineering--corporate psychopaths are bullies, who assert themselves over others; they are insecure and endlessly competitive and abuse the people that work for them rather than recognize and reward them. 

- Win-lose---they play corporate gamesmanship, appearing collegial enough, but really are always trying to get one up on their colleagues, staff, and even their bosses. 

-"Unburdened by the pangs of conscience"--they don't care what it takes to get what they want for themselves: they will lie, cheat, steal, and try to get rid of the competition (even if that is everyone that works for them or around them).   

Estimates are that "perhaps 3.9% of corporate professionals" have these psychopathic tendencies--With all the crazies out there, that seems on the low side. What do you think?

Thank G-d, however, that there are some good bosses out there--seek those people out who act like mensches, who elevate others and do not treat them like the enemy within--those people are true gems. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 22, 2009

Why We Miss the Planning Mark

We’ve all been there asking why we missed the signs while others saw them head-on and benefited in some way. This happens with financial investments (e.g. I should’ve sold before this recent meltdown like my good buddy did), business opportunities (e.g. I should’ve opened up a chain of coffee stores like Starbucks before Howard Shultz got to it), military strategy (e.g. we should’ve seen the attacks on Pearl Harbor and 9-11 coming and been better prepared to try and stop them) and other numerous “should’ve” moments—and no I’m not talking about that” I should’ve had a V8!”

Why do we miss the signs and misread information?

Obviously, these are important questions for IT leaders, enterprise architects and IT governance pros who are often managing or developing plans for large and complex IT budgets. And where the soundness of decisions on IT investments can mean technological superiority, market leadership and profitability or failed IT projects and sinking organizational prospects.

An article in MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2009, provides some interesting perspective on this.

“Organizations get blindsided not so much because decision makers aren’t seeing signals, but because they jump to the most convenient or plausible conclusion, rather than fully considering other interpretations.”

Poor decision makers hone in on simple or what seems like obvious answers, because it’s easier in the short-term than perhaps working through all the facts, options, and alternative points of view to reach more precise conclusions.

Additionally, “both individual and organizational biases prevent…signals from getting through” that would aid decision making.

How do these biases happen?

SUBJECTIVITY: We subjectively listen almost exclusively to our own prejudiced selves and distort any conflicting information. The net effect is that we do not fully appreciate other possible perspectives or ways of looking at problems. We do this through:

  • Filtering—We selectively perceive what we want to and block out anything that doesn’t fit what we want to or expect to see. For example, we may ignore negative information about an IT investment that we are looking to acquire.
  • Distortions—Information that manages to get through our mental and emotional filters, may get rationalized away or otherwise misinterpreted. For example, we might “shift blame for a mistake we made to someone else.”
  • Bolstering—Not only do we filter and distort information, but we may actually look for information to support our subjective view. For example, “we might disproportionately talk to people who already agree with us.”

GROUPTHINK: “a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.” (Wikipedia)

“In principle, groups should be better than individuals at detecting changes and responding to them. But often they are not, especially if the team in not managed well, under pressure, and careful not to rock the boat.”

Interestingly enough, many IT investment review boards, which theoretically should be helping to ensure sound IT investments, end up instead as prime examples of groupthink on steroids.

Concluding thoughts:

If we are going to make better IT decisions in the organization then we need to be honest with ourselves and with others. With ourselves, we need to acknowledge the temptation to take the simple, easy answer that is overwhelmingly directed by personal biases and instead opt for more information from all sources to get a clearer picture of reality.

Secondly, we need to be aware that domineering and politically powerful people in our organizations and on our governance boards may knowingly or inadvertently drown out debate and squash important alternate points of view.

If we do not fairly and adequately vet important decisions, then we will end up costing the enterprise dearly in terms of bad investments, failed IT projects, and talented but underutilized employees leaving for organizations where different perspectives are valued and decisions are honestly and more comprehensively vetted for the betterment of the organization.

If we shut our ears and close our eyes to other people’s important input, then we will miss the planning mark.


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