By Dr. Scott M. Shemwell, Rapid Response Institute

How can management spot the bullies?  Forget about formal complaints, et al. The targets don’t want to be identified. Try looking in the mirror.  What personality types do you promote?

Volume 6 Number 16—August 22, 2017

This pundit was asked a question by a much younger individual this last weekend. Reflecting on the news, he questioned, “Had I ever seen a more turbulent time?” Without hesitation, my answer was the 1960s

In 1960 I was 12 and in 1970 I graduated from college. While there were only 3 TV channels, I think I saw it all, the assassinations, Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cold War and Civil Rights to name a few. The United States also put a man on the moon starting with Alan Shepard’s first flight and ending with Neil Armstrong during this period.[i]

Nostalgia aside, there is a certain amount of turbulence today. While the focus of this blog has always been on business, commerce exists in the social and political environment of its times.

One observation of contemporary times is the rudeness people seems unencumbered to display. Social media is the poster child of this anonymous nonsense, but the office is increasingly the same.

EEOC and other regulations aside, some executives seem to believe that treating people abusively is acceptable. To be sure, they don’t overtly do it (at least most) but sabotaging their companies for personal aggrandizement appears to be increasing.

Most executives, officers and other highly placed individuals are at their core just “hired hands.” While they often present themselves otherwise, they are no more than easily replaced “custodians of the status quo.”[ii] Which of course gives them the right to abuse subordinates and other employees!

Does rudeness impact on the bottom line? Turnover, lack of productivity, excessive office politics and potential litigation can add up. Not to mention the stress and possible health implications of the targeted individuals. Moreover, the actions of one jerk is a contagion throughout the office.[iii]

How can management spot the bullies? Forget about formal complaints, et al. The targets don’t want to be identified. Try looking in the mirror. What personality types do you promote?

Are your Type A promotions simply jerks or do they really add value and promote other than themselves? Not that hard for studious observers to notice, by the way.

Rude and crude may work in the anonymous chat rooms and Twitter. However, is this the culture management wants the organization to be? If not, tell the bullies to check it at the door.

Better yet fire them with great fanfare so all will see—frog march them out the door so to speak, no matter what their former title was. Coyotes hanging on the fence is the best metaphor.

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About the Author

Dr. Scott M. Shemwell has over 30 years technical and executive management experience primarily in the energy sector. He is the author of six books and has written extensively about the field of operations. Shemwell is the Managing Director of The Rapid Response Institute, a firm that focuses on providing its customers with solutions enabling Operational Excellence and regulatory compliance management. He has studied cultural interactions for more than 30 years—his dissertation; Cross Cultural Negotiations Between Japanese and American Businessmen: A Systems Analysis (Exploratory Study) is an early peer reviewed manuscript addressing the systemic structure of societal relationships.

End Notes


[ii] Shemwell, Scott M. (2005). Disruptive Technologies—Out of the Box. In Essays on Business and Information Technology Alignment Issues of the Early 21st Century. (pp. 126). New York: Xlibris.


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