My father taught me to nip bad behavior in the bud.
Bad behavior is lying, cheating, stealing, bullying, unfair treatment, or anything that compels an honest and upright employee to head for the door. Left uncorrected, bad characters infect others, and the company rots from the inside.
How do we cultivate a workplace where bad behavior is not welcome? Let's start with how bad characters gain traction.
HOW DOES INFECTION HAPPEN?
When employees adopt bad behavior, they often learn it at the knee of an owner or person of authority.
I hear you saying, "Not in my company, they don't!"
Okay, perhaps the employee was influenced by a different boss--or a playground bully, an abusive parent or unprincipled adult.
However, it could be someone within your company who is doing the influencing.
I tell owners to look closely at the managers in their upper ranks. These may be charismatic leaders who charm the ownership team and board members, but treat direct reports savagely, selfishly or unfairly. Maybe there's talk of how these managers use "tough love" to "get the job done."
If that's the kind of verbiage being bandied about, I suggest you are empowering and enabling managers of the most destructive ilk.
Let's talk about toxic managers:
They abuse their power. They bully, intimidate and ridicule. They chase away high-quality employees and seek to control those who remain.
They reward and punish inconsistently and unfairly. They make decisions capriciously, often centered around their own gain. They point the finger at employees when anything goes wrong. Their unpredictability keeps everyone on edge and saps energy from the business.
They brag about how they take advantage. They gossip about how they accept kickbacks, pad their expense account, screw over customers... even cheat on a spouse. They are vocal about it, making others complicit in their deeds, and they proclaim you a sucker and weakling if you don't buy into their nonsense.
They lie, straight out. They lie to everyone - and everyone knows it. They are sneaky liars at the lowest levels of an organization, and outright liars when they're at the top. These types of liars flatter and cajole their inner circle while challenging those who cross them, calling them "delusional" and "disloyal."
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
When I earned my degree from Harvard Business School, the professors told us, "Be a person of high character and run your business thusly."
When I learned about business from my father...