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Articles & Press Releases > Article 16

Part II: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

If you landed on this page after a search on the search-engine-of-your-choice, welcome! This article was written by Glory Borgeson, an executive coach, author, and speaker. Schedule her to speak at your organization's next event:
Personal Branding Speaker; Emerging Leadership Speaker; Entrepreneurial Speaker

In Part 1 of this article, I wrote about seeing this article's title on the t-shirt of a man at a football game. It made me chuckle. Sometimes truth is spoken in jest.

Whenever the U.S. economy has a greater number of layoffs, I tend to hear a greater number of workplace stories from people who feel somewhat beat up. Some workplaces sound more like college fraternity houses. You could swear you heard someone say, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?"

What can a person do if they find themselves at a company, or in a department, where morale is low because the emotional "beat-up factor" is high?

The quick answer is, "Find a new job." The slow answer is, "It depends."

If you are in a position to effect change, then you can choose to set the tone and put measures in place to bring about the morale changes you want to see. Do your employees bring each other down? Are there managers reporting to you who treat their employees like fraternity pledges? Are these managers redeemable? What can a leader do?

Consider 'workplace civility' as a great place to start. Being civil to one another at work is much more difficult to achieve when morale is low. Therefore, focusing on workplace civility is important in good times as well as bad, in order to set a good precedent and tone.

A consultant who specializes in workplace civility issues is Giovinella Gonthier of Civility Associates. She has written a book titled "Rude Awakenings". In it she reviews typical workplace incivility, and then outlines steps and measures to take to implement a civility program.

What if you're not in a position to effect company or departmental change?

You need to know your limits. When experiencing "the beat-up factor", drawing a line for someone is a good thing to do; after doing that, do they still cross the line?

One of the gurus of coaching, the late Thomas Leonard, was known for a phrase he would ask those he coached: "What are you tolerating?" In other words, if you are tolerating something at work, you need to do something about it. How long do you think you can tolerate the "beat-up factor" if it doesn't change? What is your limit?

If you see no lasting changes coming, will you look into an inter-company transfer, or even to a new company altogether?

My own limits depend on the type of "beat-up factor" I encounter. I was once consulting at a company where an employee (whom I'll call Ken) was a grizzly-bear-type who did not hide that fact. One day Ken was very angry about something; a co-worker told me that he thought Ken was going to hit me. My plain response was, "No he won't." Ken really didn't bother me. Two weeks later he was eating out of my hand. Even though other people felt stressed by Ken, I really felt no stress and did not feel beat up by him at all.

In contrast, I left that project about 3 weeks early due to a different "beat-up factor". A handful of people on the project were involved in back stabbing and tattling. After several days of feeling my eye twitch, talking to the lead back stabber, and seeing no change, I had to leave that environment.

Everyone has their limits regarding the workplace "beat-up factor". Know what your limits are. Decide what to do. Then take action.


If you have ever been in a "beat-up factor" in the workplace, please let me know and tell me what you chose to do. I'd love to hear about it!

I appreciate your thoughts in response.

Glory Borgeson, President
2008 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

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