Gossip in the workplace can be a powerfully destructive force.  Gossip spread by employees about their coworkers can be the result of passive participation or it can be triggered by a more affirmative attempt to cause harm to another.  Office gossip is an effective method to exact workplace revenge. 

What fuels efforts to engage in workplace revenge has a story all its own.  A new book, due out next month, takes a close look at imagewhat it is that workplace revenge entails and why employees engage in such conduct. In Getting Even: The Truth About Workplace Revenge – and How to Stop It, by Thomas M. Tripp and Robert J. Bies  conclude that workplace revenge is the product of individuals who feel that they have been victimized and seek to avenge justice on their own behalf.  The book is the result of years of research and the various lessons learned from the nearly 500 managers and workers interviewed for the project.  Pieces of the interviews are peppered throughout the book in the form of lively anecdotes.  

To read more about the problems of bullies and jerks at work, see these posts:

New Conclusions on the Potential Costs of Workplace Bullying

Women Who Bully Women at Work

“My Boss Is Killing Me”: Why this just may be true

Top 5 Lessons to Be Learned from the Jerk at Work

Workplace bullying

A “tool” is a loser, a wanna-be. A tool, usually a male, could also be described as a “poser”–someone who acts soooo coooool that he almost has the world tricked.  But, then a real cool person comes along and assures us that the individual in question is, in fact, a tool.  How, you ask, does the tool make such a convincing case for his false coolness?  Usually by berating others and kicking on the little guy.  You remember someone like this from high school, right?  At the time, he was very convincing but now, in your wisdom, you can look back and recognize that it was his insecurity that made him toss freshman into lockers–not his alleged coolness. shutterstock_22637446

Most tools get out of high school and, sometimes college, only to realize that they’re really not so cool and they may even take a few beatings themselves.  By professional life, most tools outgrow this nonsensical camouflage.  And the ones who don’t?  In some organizations, they’re promoted.  That’s right, in some worlds, where I am thankful not to live, the biggest tools take the day and are promoted as a result of their obnoxious conduct.  Why this is, truly, is beyond me. 

Maybe you’ve been wondering whether your boss is a tool.  Maybe you’ve suspected it for quite some time.  If so, you can take the following test, created by male-fashion blogger extraordinnaire, MagnificientBastard, and find out. Only MB uses the term “toolbag,” which leadership blog, What Would Dad Say, defines “men who are clueless, inappropriate and overall doofuses.”  (And, for the record with regard to the tool-toolbag debate, I’m not discrediting the use of the term “toolbag, I’m just sticking with “tool” as my preferred term, ok?)  

Here’s how to tell if your boss is a toolbag:

1. He takes credit for everything you do.

2. He walks around the meeting with a baseball bat, asking if anyone saw the movie Untouchables.

3. He steals money from the coffee jar.

4. He is all gushy about you to your wife, and asks her to call him if you get upset at him.

5. He demands the project be completed overnight for his 8 am meeting, but then doesn’t show up himself.

6. He broke down, cried and asked “why don’t they like me?”

7. He wanted everyone to dress like a pilgrim at Thanksgiving.

8. He monitors phone calls.

9. He brings in his kids’ grade school artwork and asks for your honest opinion.

10. He puts you down for ten boxes of Girl Scout cookies because “everyone else is buying this much.”

Employers are conscientious about safety and injury-prevention, regardless of the economic climate.  But when the economy is difficult, employers should keep an especially cautious eye out for fraudulent workers’ comp claims.  There are three methods to prevent abusive workers’ comp claims that every employer can utilize, regardless of size or industry. shutterstock_17077399

To read more about how to best prevent laid off employees from bringing baseless comp claims, have a look at my guest post at the Workers’ Comp Kit Blog

Men are going unshaven as a sign of rebellion against Corporate America, or The Man, or the employer that just laid them off.  Well, so we hear, anyway.  And fashion houses are designing women’s suits that include shorts so short that would make the women in the Nair* commercials blush.  Even I have contributed to the recent workplace dress code rebellion by suggesting that corporate-suit-types may prefer pink iPod cufflinks to the traditional mainstays.  shutterstock_23553256

And this type of style confidence is fantastic.  Unless, of course, your choices put your superiors on guard–instead of admiring your style as avant-gard.  Just ask Tracey Batt.  

From the ABA Journal, an article titled, Ex BigLaw Associate: I Was Arrested By Law Firm Fashion Police.  According to the article’s author, Martha Neil, Batt was a 5th-year associate at a BigLaw** firm in NYC when she scared her superiors so badly with her fashion choices that they actually retained a fashion consultant to take her shopping and help her with a total makeover.

Batt described the experience as “positively mortifying.” 

It must have been–she’s left the world of BigLaw altogether and now runs a “small nonprofit legal services organization” from her home.

So, for those of you considering somewhat outrageous jewelry or other fashion choice, please, be warned.  Keep an eye out for the fashion police, they could be coming for you next!

 

*Nair’s jingle, for those who may not recall, begins, “Who wears short shorts?”  Sure, you remember it! 

**”BigLaw” is code for “multi-office Golaith law practice where associates are relegated to document production for the first 8 years of their careers, while earning hefty six figures for their suffering.”

President Barack Obama this morning signed the first bill of his presidency, a piece of legislation known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act that makes it easier for workers to sue after discovering what they believe to be pay discrimination.  For a bit more detail about the potential ramifications of the new law, see Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Will Become First Pro-Labor Legislation of 2009, Equal Pay Becomes Front Runner as Lilly Ledbetter Act Takes Center Stage, Equal Pay: Fair Pay Restoration Act Voted Down in Senate, More Fodder for the Fair Pay Debate, or A New Day for Employers.

Workplace bullying is not a recent phenomenon.  I’d go so far as to say that jerks at work have a primary cause of conflict and adversity since the inception of the modern workplace.  In her recent paper, Nancy Haig analyzes and synthesizes the research on workplace bullying.  She concludes:

Workplace bullying  is . . . commonly defined as a pattern of psychological abuse, over time, intended to degrade, humiliate and isolate the bully’s victim. Bullying may be impacted by individual characteristics and/or corporate structure; and corporate practices themselves have been called bullying. The costs of bullying are significantly high to both employees and employers.

The paper is very well-supported and offers readers a whole host of resources for further reading.  [Via Brandon Hall Research]

Responding to a lawsuit, the OFCCP previously agreed to delay implementation of the new mandate that federal contractors use E-Verify.  The lawsuit, as you may recall from previous posts, was filed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and other organizations. E-verify

The original effective date of the mandatory E-Verify requirement was January 15, 2009. That date subsequently was changed to February 20, 2009.  And, today, it appears that the start date for the mandatory use of E-Verify has been delayed again–this time until May 21, 2009, to allow the new administration time to review and evaluate the rule and the arguments against conversion to a fully mandatory E-Verify system.

My seminar on Social Media and HR, which was originally scheduled for February 9 but was canceled due to the snow, has been rescheduled for June 8. The seminar is hosted by the Delaware Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management. The seminar will take place during the Chapter’s June breakfast meeting. There is a small fee to attend the event but it is open to members and non-member guests. Here’s the link for more information on how to register: SHRMDE.

I’ll be talking about Twitter, among other social-media tools. You can follow me to Twitter at @MollyDiBi until the seminar for more information about the potential uses of social media by human-resource professionals.

100 of the Best Blogs on Leadership may sound like just about every imaginable leadership blog worth its salt would have been included. That is an incorrect conclusion.  After I posted my list of my favorite leadership blogs, readers sent me lots more names to add to the list. One of them that was specifically recommended was Leadership for Lawyers, authored by Mark Beese. I took that recommendation and am glad I did–the blog has outstanding content presented in well-written and timely fashion.  metaphor signs for business

Fittingly, Mark was named by LawDragon as one of the Top 100 Legal Consultants.  If his consulting services are on par with his blogging efforts, I’d say it’s an honor well deserved.  And he is in good company, to boot.  Aside from Mark Beese, the list includes leadership greats, such as long-time leadership consultant David Meister, several of the Hildebrandt International all-star team also are included.  Larry Richard, Ph.D, is one such all-star.  I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Richard speak about the traditional character personalities of lawyers about two years ago.  As a former practicing attorney, who chose to pursue his Ph.D in psychology more than a decade after having completed his J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Although I can attest to Mark’s praise-worthy services only second-hand, I can attest personally to Dr. Richard’s leadership genius.  In both cases, congratulations for being recognized for successfully teaching the important leadership message to lawyers.  Goodness knows, we are certainly in need of the lessons being taught!

Gen Y (a/k/a the Millennial Generation), is known, among other things, for an authority-be-damned approach to the workplace.  Having be raised by late-Boomer(or “Helicopter”) parents, the “Y” Generation wants to know, “Why Should I?”  Why should I do what you tell me? . . .  Why should I work in the same job for my entire career? . . . Why should I be loyal to one employer?  And, of course, “Why should I wear a suit to work?”image

In my experience, it’s often easier to go with the trend but add your own signature to ensure you stand apart from the crowd.  

And that is the approach I’d advise when it comes to workplace attire.  Law firms are still largely formal corporate environments, and for good reason.  (See Sheldon Sandler’s previous post, “Are You My Lawyer or the Janitor?” The lawyer’s dress-code pendulum swings back.“).  To make sure that you don’t stand apart from the average black-suit-wearing legal eagle, consider accessories.  The smaller and less in-your-face the accessory, the more outrageous it can be.  (If pressed, I would admit to wearing to work a charm bracelet by Lagos that is adorned with tiny charms shaped like skulls.  I might even admit that I’ve worn it to a deposition once or twice). 

Here is a workplace-appropriate accessory for the dutifully fashionable–the iPod cufflink.  It is sold in both black (U2 style) and in pink for those interested in a more feminine touch.  And, lucky for you, the iPod cufflink is now on sale for $18 at 1st Choice Cufflinks.

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