Magazine article Supervisory Management

Coping with Dysfunctional Managers

Magazine article Supervisory Management

Coping with Dysfunctional Managers

Article excerpt

In the past 20 years, a growing number of companies have learned to come to terms with the "dysfunctional" employee--for example, alcoholics or those addicted to other drugs. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) have been successful in helping workers recover from potentially crippling conditions.

Despite this positive achievement, writes Francine S. Hall in the Summer 1991 issue of Organizational Dynamics, one group has been given relatively little attention at the workplace: adults who grew up in dysfunctional families. Although these "dysfunctional adult children" may not themselves be afflicted with addictions or other such problems, as "victims" of dysfunctional households they have developed behavior patterns that could prove problematic or disruptive in the workplace.

Often, notes Hall, these people start out as responsible workers--which is how they move into management positions. At some point, however, the past catches up with them. Once this happens, they allow their own unhealthy patterns to surface--affecting not only their own performance but also the morale of their staffers and co-workers.

General Profile

According to Hall, the dysfunctional adult child carries a set of rules and norms derived from growing up with a parent, grandparent, or other family member whose problem required special coping behavior. Hall says that the nature of the problem itself is not so important as its impact on family members.

Oftentimes, dysfunctional adult children have been brought up in an atmosphere of shame and guilt. No matter that shame and guilt were not explicitly taught by the parents; the message was there and the child perceived it as "I am no good" or "I'm not trying hard enough to make things right". Feelings of self-worthlessness and abandonment develop in children whose relationship with parents are marked by erratic or abusive behavior. …

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