Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sabotage in Today's Workplace May Begin With You

When we think of "sabotage" we may envision stealthy bad people trying to take down an organization. We may think of malware inserted into a company's system, or someone tinkering with machinery so that it will break down and disrupt operations.

But a new book, "Simple Sabotage" points out that it's often the simplest acts -- that many of us do every day -- that can undermine a workplace.

Authors Robert M. Galford, Bob Frische and Cary Greene use unclassified World War II documents from the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA) to reveal how European resistance movement members were advised how they could muck up the internal works of an organization.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Insist on doing everything through channels. Never permit shortcuts to speed up decision-making.
  • Make speeches. Lots of speeches. Let loose your inner motormouth and gab at length whenever you can. Tell lots of stories, personal anecdotes, etc.
  • Bring up irrelevant topics as much as possible.
  • Nitpick and haggle over precise wording of communications, meeting minutes and resolutions.
  • In a meeting, attempt to reopen old issues and question their viability.
  • Push for caution. Urge colleagues to be "reasonable" and avoid doing anything too quickly or possibly face  embarrassments or hassles in the future.
  • Question whether any decision may not be within the group's jurisdiction and may conflict with policy of senior leaders.
You're probably very familiar with such behaviors at work, and can even identify those who do them most often. The authors point out that while such actions may seem innocent on the surface, they can cause real harm if left unchecked. They offer solutions such as remembering to clarify goals continually to keep people on topic, and curtailing people who haggle so much they derail progress.

But the real question you may need to ask yourself is this: Are you the one guilty of such sabotage?

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