Introduction The five negative organizational practices that need to be never encouraged and totally given a decent burial are a) Back-biting of a tall order b) Rumor mongering/Gossipping c) Playing politics between bosses d) Playing politics on basis of caste, community or religion, and e) Dangerous games by the yes men.
Back-biting of a tall orderIt happens in this fashion. A trusts B and shares with him some information. A does the opposite. He adds his own "Mirch Masala" and gives the information to the boss. The latter starts believing the subordinate A. In turn, he goes on doing whatever he is saying. The merry-go-round goes on a very long time. It becomes very acute when there are eccentric bosses and autocratic bosses. The particular characteristics of situations where these bosses rule the environment or the department have been discussed further in an earlier article.
The deadly organizational practice of back-biting can stop only when the HR Manager steps in and briefs all the big bosses about such practices. The particular individual who does the unhealthy practice on a regular basis has to be severely warned and be told to keep off. Once this is done, the damage can be minimized. However, the support of Top Management is crucial. It has to be noted that wherever the Top Management has done its job, such a very unhealthy practice has never ever raised its ugly head. it is still a problem in environments that are far removed from the Corporate Office. These are the cement and paper factories where the CEO or some senior official of the plant himself has some weakness and encourages the yes men to have a say in official matters. Often, if the person believes in astrology or is very religious minded, the yes men jump in and play tunes that suit this particular weakness. The rest, as they say, is history. But the history of a different kind. The yes men do all the backbiting to just cover up all their weaknesses. This goes on for years. Since the wives of employees get used to the comforts available in the townships attached to the factories, the husbands who are trapped in this game somehow pull on with their lives and sacrifice any learning only for the sake of job security. In any case, only the HR professional can and should intervene and put an end to this very unhealthy practice.
Rumor mongering/GossippingThis is a variation of the aforesaid unhealthy practice. Those who do routine jobs without any challenge tend to do this for various reasons. They have a sadistic pleasure in talking about the personal affairs of executives or even workmen. Even if there is a single senior boss who likes to hear such juicy stories, this game goes on without any let-up. The scenario becomes very polluted. Only when a no-nonsense CEO takes over, he would bring this practice to a quick closure by quickly reprimanding those who do it. The role of the HR Manager is to directly intervene and warn the individual involved. If there are several individuals in this game, they should be reprimanded immediately. However, bringing it to the notice of the CEO and the Top Management at the Corporate Office is also essential. If such actions are quickly taken, the problem can be put an end to, rather quickly.
Playing politics between bosses Some middle-level executives or even junior executive try this dirtiest and unhealthy game. If there is one weak boss, there would be stories about his official work with all drawback, carried to the other boss, in the same cadre. The boss may even be from an allied department. For example, in one pharmaceutical organization, there was one VP (Works) who was given the mandate of overseeing the entire factory operations whereas the VP (Project) stayed on for completing certain tasks and to ensure a smooth transition. There were at least four executives who were actually playing dirty politics. It so happened that the VP ( Works) was not at all so efficient in certain practical aspects of operations. The VP ( Project) had his own yes men who would carry tales and this would be faithfully conveyed to the Top Management the same night. The big boss, the Director of Projects and Operations sitting at New Delhi, would have his own version and understanding of what is going on in the factory, as he would consult with even more men than the few who came with the information in the first place. All this politics became so bad, till a no-nonsense CEO assumed power in the factory. The VP ( Projects) also retired from service. The CEO understand the wider ramifications of the games being played out and directly reprimanded everyone involved. The HR Manager had also given him a very accurate account of what had gone wrong.
Playing politics on basis of caste, community or religion This is a pan-India problem. Some senior executives, even at the General Manager level, prefer to have their "own" men, and this leads to trouble. There is subtle discrimination against some particular community executives and this starts becoming a bigger problem when the practical problems posed by such discrimination became so pronounced and complex at some stage. Religion-Oriented politics is very rare, but it still happens. This is one very unhealthy practice that should be totally discouraged and everything should be on merit. In some organizations, the promoters are from a particular community. They would naturally tend to have a few executives in very senior positions from the very same community. The problem starts only when there is active discrimination being followed by someone and this becomes a problem that requires the intervention of the Top Management at some stage. Once again, if the HR Manager is alert, this problem can be easily solved without much of a fuss. Communication is key. The real interaction between executives and their families should happen at a very regular phase and should encompass every single executive, irrespective of caste, or creed or community or religion. In fact, celebrations are actively encouraged by some companies. Such interactions help to break all barriers and politics can also come to an end rather quickly. The plant level CEOs should also be alert and nip every problem in the bud. ]
Dangerous games by the yes men As already discussed the dangerous games by the yes men are a real problem to the peace in the organization. The problem becomes acute when we have the yes men even at very serious levels. The games go right into the personal affairs of the executives. Anyone who is not a "yes man" is the target. Normally, as long as there are bosses who encourage the yes men, they will happily continue to wreak havoc. Most family-organizations have such yes men. They literally yield such personal power that the senior level employees, who do not like any bit of it, are not only extra careful but start respecting these people. In a particular organization, one fellow who grew up form an ordinary trainee position in HR would play havoc with any person, even on contract. For example, though he is now a Manager ( HR) he would expect the contract driver to go home and do personal work for his wife. Since the driver's wife was herself unwell, the driver could not be present at the residence of the Manager. Immediately, the person was thrown into the factory and the CEO was given a wrong report that he had disrespected a senior executive. The situation was stage-managed and the poor driver was made to report to the office of the senior executive immediately on resuming duty. The senior executive was in a meeting. The driver was quickly asked to pack up and go to another town with an HR official. The driver had duly informed the personal assistant of the Senior executive. Yet it was told to the CEO that the driver did not obey the orders. This is the sort of dangerous game that is regularly played out in so many organizations. That this poor driver had done so much of personal work on earlier occasions was no consideration. The Manager is a big hate figure now. Many people who have been affected are waiting for one single chance to take revenge against this fellow.
Conclusion Modern organizations need not spend their time and energy on any negative and unhealthy practice as mentioned above. The modern technological advances and the resulting challenges have made it so important to take on new challenges. The negative unhealthy practices should never be encouraged.