Women, Sabotage & Bullying … Oh My!
Workplace … We have a problem … still.
Women aren’t soloists when it comes to sabotage and bullying behaviors. Men do it. Women do it. But, and it is a “but,” men do it differently.
For co-workers, the fear of potential harm from a saboteur or bullier to them personally or professionally creates an environment that is highly stressful and toxic. That means they are less productive, morale takes a dive, and common goals within the organization suffer.
When times are good, employees start looking for a new job—the toxicity isn’t worth it—no matter how much they get paid. Employers lose money because work doesn’t get done. Over-time, temp help, lost time because of grumbling amongst the staff or the energy that is put out to avoid the saboteur at all costs. When the economy is not so hot, it actually breeds the saboteur–bullying increases. People are less likely to jump ship, which creates fertile ground for the bullier in the workplace.
It’s impossible to be fully productive when you’ve got a back or front-stabber lurking in your midst.
When times aren’t so good, like in today’s economy, people don’t entertain an exit strategy. And the bully/saboteur knows it. Bad times can be the perfect elixir for the nasty people in your workplace to step up to the plate.
Whether you are a manager or an employee, ignorance isn’t bliss. You’ve got to deal with sabotage and undermining activities in your workplace. If you don’t, you can lose big—your reputation, your position, and your bottom line. Money. Lots of it.
Sabotage is the act of undermining or destroying personal or professional integrity; it creates mayhem in personal or professional lives;
and it damages personal and professional credibility. Sabotage can be done intentionally or unintentionally and it can be delivered overtly or covertly.
Women don’t own the art of sabotage, men do it too. Quite well.
Women, though, are different in their targets and methodology. They are more inclined to be covert and deceptive as they unravel it. A factor that has been consistent with every study that I’ve conducted, as well as those of others, is that women discriminate—their preference for undermining and bullying their own gender is the method of choice. In contrast, men don’t discriminate—either gender is target material.
Men are more inclined to be overt when they create conflict, sabotage or a bullying act, even letting you know the day and time it will happen. It’s the difference between backstabbing and front-stabbing. In one case, you’re unsure who caused the action; in the other, the perpetrator is blatant and bold. If they could garner a badge for their deeds, they would wear them.
Because of the distinct differences in sabotaging behaviors of men and women, it’s wise to know how to identify a saboteur in your workplace midst. Ask a few questions—
• Does anyone encourage gossip? Saboteurs are superb messengers and can hardly wait to pass on discrediting information.
• Does information pass you by? Are you out of the loop? Saboteurs isolate their targets from regular communication links.
• Is anyone’s job in jeopardy? Change is in the air. When change occurs, anxiety and fear becomes its companion. Either creates a breeding ground for sabotage.
• Does anyone routinely take the credit of others or discount them (or yours)? Saboteurs don’t bravo anyone else’s contribution to a project or idea. The only thing that really counts is that they get credit, who cares if they did the work or not.
The work place is a breeding ground for saboteurs and bulliers. Men and women at all levels must learn to recognize the action, who creates them and learn how to confront them. If the bullier/saboteur isn’t, it’s tantamount to giving approval to continue with the offending and abusive behavior.
Not everyone lands in the national press when set up. But feelings of personal betrayal are no less devastating. When a woman shafts another woman, there is a sense of violation—how could you do this … to me … to “women”?
Managers routinely ignore this problem, more out of fear for charges of sexism than anything else. The question becomes, “Why do they fear this?” It’s because when businesses hold programs about sexual harassment, since they don’t consider themselves as harassers. This is because it’s assumed that the male is the harasser.
Women are more likely to sabotage other women, rather than harass men. It’s a form of gender harassment. Why should women be treated any different? Harassment—whether caused by men or women—is a problem.
American businesses lose billions of dollars each year in lost productivity because of its unwillingness to deal with this issue. Verbal and physical abuse, sabotage and bullying should be in no workplace. Ever.