Men Behaving Badly
The Common Causes of Workplace Friction
and What to Do About It!
Business is about People & Process.
It’s about collaborating the minds within your firm to deliver a product or service that gen-
uinely solves the problems of the customers you wish to deal with.
It’s about finding ways to make ‘doing things’ easier for everyone involved so you can do
them again and again for profit.
It’s about working with others for a common good. It’s about manipulating others to get
what you want... ‘strong arming’ them to see your point of view.
No wait! What did you just say? Manipulating others; don’t you
mean effective communication so we can achieve a mutual out-
Manipulation is what it’s all about; that’s not to say that your
intent is insincere or not in the best interests of those around you but make no mistake, when
you’re communicating you’re attempting to achieve an outcome that you desire.
Don’t be alarmed, it’s natural. In fact, its the main purpose for our internal dialogue according
to Dan Sperber, evolutionary psychologist . You see, back in the cave man days we weaker
males (and woman) had to learn to find a way to manipulate the stronger types so we could
get our fair share of food, warmth and shelter. If physical domination was the only tactics then
very few of us would have survived...
Enter the modern business era, a time when it’s frowned upon if you pull out a club and thump
it over the head of your workmates and business partners. (There’s a few days I wish those
days could return if you know what I mean...) Today’s business world requires an awareness of
many things, technology and change push our senses to their limits and it’s in this state of ‘full
alert’ that we can lose ourselves and slip into a position of self preservation or self pleasure
(avoiding pain for ourselves)
So what’s happening?
We’re using our in-built coping mechanism and preferred manipulation style to try and get
where we want to go; problem is, so are our workmates and business partners and we’re
‘clashing’ with them. This doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily in a combative position, nor
does it mean we want different things (often quite the contrary) just that our methods for
getting there are different. And that’s the rub...
We need a common language, consistent with the business world yet void of jargon, a frame-
work that guides us so we can move away from our ego positions and work more effectively.
The Problem With Strategic Language
Strategic language is not a bad thing... It’s just that it often masks an ‘ego that is out of
control’. In the business world, it’s common for men (and a few woman) to over-identify with
their role. In psychology terms this is their ‘super ego’ becoming dominant and forming a
constrained ‘professional self image’. One that stops us from seeing our own reality, our
failings, our frustrations and our hurt.
Strategic Jargon is an excellent opportunity for people to
withdraw from the emotions of dealing with others. Words
like ’downsizing’ get used instead of ’making people
In this state, people lose sight of themselves and are more
likely to lose sight of others. The communication lacks
‘connection’ and it’s quickly evident that sincerity has ’left
The problem however is that essence, purpose, soul and creativity leaves the building also
and what’s left is a hollow building with people that facade their regard for others; People
‘going through the motions’. A business simply lacking in vitality...
“It’s not planning that’s our problem, it’s how we plan...”
An easy mistake to make is to use the ‘right way’ to plan; you know, the one that’s just come out of
Harvard or Cambridge... The one with the longest words or the fanciest diagrams.
Instead, why don’t you take a moment to identify how people think, how they like to organise their
thoughts, how the roles require them to interact and how they intend to review their thoughts over
The key lies in understanding the personality types within the business; not for the purpose of trying
to ‘get inside their heads’ but to allow individuals to identify their own coping habits so they can self
Ask any counsellor and they’ll tell you, “You can’t fix a person, you can only guide them to a place
where they choose to improve themselves”
Knowing your own typology creates personal insight. With insight comes motivation for new
behaviour, in the right environment (one where everyone is encouraged to grow) those new
behaviours are given time to be perfected and the result is wisdom.
A path of constant and never ending, (willing) self improvement.
And that’s the purpose of planning; to align the thoughts and actions of those within the business,
for the commercial health of the business and those it serves...
A common cause for workplace friction is the transference of a business within a family or as
a result of a merger or acquisition. In instances such as these you have all the unspoken
expectations clashing with the obvious hierarchy and work experience issues.
Within families you get the ‘collegiate’ dynamic (which is sought after and desirable) clashing
with the history of Father/Son (Daughter) type relationship where one party was clearly in
authority and in many cases, would make decisions without input from the child yet at work,
are now required to genuinely listen and take on challenging views from
that same child.
Within mergers you have the dynamic of ‘we’re taking you over ‘cause we
were more successful, that’s why we’re going to do things our way’ yet in
reality, the opportunity lies in developing the very ‘best way’.
Searching for ‘the best way for us’ vs. how we’ve always done it requires healthy people who
are committed to life long learning. It requires strong individuals with their Ego in check. It
requires leadership and demonstration that there is no linear ‘A to B’ when learning; It is
cyclical, evolutionary and constant.
It requires a genuine curiosity in the world around us and a zest for living!
I once heard the merger of two businesses explained by the metaphor of the dating phases.
Two parties come together, may meet their needs on a single occasion and in some cases,
should just end it there! Others agree to meet again and eventually end up getting engaged,
finally there are the couples that are fully committed who go on to get married and live
together ‘till death do us part’.
The morale of the story is that both parties need to know what they want from the other
and be in a position of strength if they wish to build a healthy vibrant relationship. Merging a
business or completing the process of succession is just like getting married; you have to look
for the good in each other and be willing to compromise on the running of the house for the
sake of a healthy, happy marriage. (and it takes time, you don’t stop just ‘cause you’ve got a
Business succession is about the changing of a relationship dynamic as much as it is about
the changing of processes, people and systems. The foundation to change is a healthy re-
spect for the other and integral to this is an understanding of your own faults, your own fail-
ings and an admission that holding onto the past grievances means you’ll never move for-
One last free bit of advice... If you decide to ‘agree on something we can live with’ then you
also need to decide to let a few shots ‘slip through to the keeper’. Swinging at every stray
ball will just wear you both out!
The 9 Domains Option
One option that has been developed to help improve the effectiveness and engagement of
‘dysfunctional teams’ is the 9 Domains and TOLAT (Team Organisational Level Assessment) models.
This is the first model (that I’m aware of) that truly combines the framework necessary for developing
robust business objectives with the ability to assess the team effectiveness against said objectives and
then be able to ‘drill down’ to an individual’s performance, all with the same consistent language and
What this means to a business is that the communication of what needs to be done and why, as well as
‘how we look when we’re at our best’ is made much clearer and more importantly, if the message is
not being transferred throughout the organisation (which is often the case in dysfunctional teams—due
to age/experience/hierarchal barriers) you can identify where its ’breaking down’ and ’with who’.
Winning teams often have that ’x-factor’, they have the ability to ’give when it’s needed’ and to make
sure that each person ’does their part’. This is not something that is achieved by accident; its the result
of clear objectives and communication, its the result of individuals choosing to belong and wanting to
contribute, its ’knowing what it means and what it looks like’ for everyone.
The 9 Domains combines personality profiling with a ‘natures natural order’
philosophy to business ‘best practice’ and is used by creative and progressive
businesses around the world. (including a few divisions within Boeing) The
team reports are created via on-line technology and can be ‘sliced and diced’
to give amazing cross sections of your team dynamics.
At last, you can clearly communicate your expectations and measure exactly
who is responding, or not.
Whatever framework you choose, remember to make sure that it provides clear boundaries for per-
sonal behaviour and responsibility. In many cases, a simple ‘Governance Framework’ of STAKEHOLD-
ER—BOARD— CEO— MANAGEMENT— TEAM will provide the ‘permission’ for people to perform
their roles and to respond to someone who is in clear violation of their responsibilities.
This role identification is often critical to a business owner who ‘wears many hats’; you know the
type... Makes the plans in the office—instructs his team to act then rushes out into the field to repri-
mand an employee or ‘show them how to do it’ and in doing so, completely over-rides his manage-
ment team and destroys all lines of communication and ownership.
Likewise, a manager that takes it upon themselves to over-ride the message from the board on what
is best for the company. Their ‘not on my watch’ philosophy has no regard for the information that
may be available to the board yet they may not be privy to.
In both these cases, a robust framework that identifies the ‘promise and permission’ of individuals
will help provide the ‘inner guidance’ before their ‘steam builds up’!
About the Author
The Professional Development Coach to Accountants, Lawyers & Financial Advisers.
Mike regularly consults throughout NZ to increase the leverage within professional services firms and speaks on a
variety of topics, including ‘Closing the Skill Gap’ and ‘What Blocks Professional’s From Selling’.
Mike’s professional experience has been enhanced by his work with some of NZ’s leading accountants and lawyers via
his engagements with Deloitte’s, Hayes Knight, Staples Rodway and Crown Prosecutors, Marsden Woods Inskip Smith
and others. Mike’s experience in consulting extends to a vast array of industries including construction, architecture,
geotechnical engineering, beekeeping, car sales, gym owners, haulage & earthmoving, printing/signwriting, woman's
clothing, spinal surgeon and the list goes on...
Mike considers himself a ‘coaching addict’ – “It’s WHO I am, not WHAT I do” explains Mike, “It’s how I’m wired; it’s in
every part of my life”.
Mike is a passionate exponent of The Enneagram Personality Profiling System, (He attended in New York at the hands
of the ‘masters’ Don Riso & Russ Hudson) which allows Mike to explore the ‘blockages’ that stop people from reaching
their own true potential.
“I coach professionals to do the things they won’t do on their own” says Mike, “my greatest sense of self-worth comes
from watching others grow and knowing I played a critical part in it”.
Married to the love of his life (Natalie) and so very proud of his 3 kids, Mike still finds time to coach and mentor NZ’s
fastest motocross riders. “It’s an extremely demanding and dangerous sport and the professional riders I work with
have everything on the line every time they race. Want to learn how to focus the mind and overcome fear? – you’ve
come to the right place…”
professionals to do
the things they won’t
do on their own”
“The learning from this has been amazing!” says Mike. “The very real threat of serious
injury combined with the pressure of being a professional athlete is the perfect place to
find what really works, and throws out all the garbage that most of the ‘self-help’ books
MIKE & KAYNE
Ph. 0272 934461
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