Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Q: I'm having a problem with some members of my department who are good at their jobs but very laddish in their behaviour and generally irresponsible in their attitude towards the company. Is there anything I can do to change things?

A: What is really at issue here is a clash of values. Your values seem to include treating others with respect and being loyal to the organisation, and these members of your team are infringing your beliefs about how it is appropriate to behave. It would be easy to categorise them as having no values, but perhaps more accurate to say their values are different from yours. Maybe what they value is freedom of action and expression and the right to have a laugh at work.

Whether you decide to do anything or not may depend on how serious the negative consequences are of this behaviour. Is performance directly (or indirectly) affected by their actions? Are they costing the company money by the way they behave? If so, having tangible data on the reasons why a change is required may be helpful in providing a rationale for your objections.

As you say, it is you who has the problem. You have several options: you can ignore their behaviour; you can try to protect those who are being negatively affected by it; or you can try to change what may not be expressed in just a few isolated cases but is in fact endemic to the organisation.

Laddishness is rife in some firms and even entire industry sectors, where it is the prevailing culture - accepted, or at least tolerated, by the majority. And there are laddettes, too, who exhibit a range of behaviours quite as potentially offensive as that of the lads - for example, drinking excessively, swearing and ridiculing others.

A client of mine inherited a department where laddish behaviour was the norm and performance was poor. He decided that this was the result of the prevalent drinking culture. Amid howls of protest, he instituted a policy of no drinking at lunchtime, Monday to Thursday. Unsurprisingly, productivity began to climb as people spent less time in the pub and worked with clearer heads in the afternoon.

While this man had the power to effect a change in behaviour by decree, you may not be in such a pivotal position. So what can you do that could make a difference? For a start, you can model the behaviour you believe is more appropriate. …

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