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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 57Address Bad Behavior

This chapter is related to the previous chapter, but the focus is on bad (undesirable, inappropriate, unethical, or immoral) behavior rather than on poor performance. This may seem like a very straightforward topic at first. You may be thinking, “Larry and Kim, this is not even worthy of discussion. Bad behavior should be punished. End of story.” It turns out to be a much more challenging topic than it might appear because you, as a manager, have to answer two questions:

  1. Just how bad was the behavior? Was it a violation of etiquette or ethics?
  2. What should the consequences be?

First, it is important to understand that what counts as bad behavior in one culture might well be characterized as perfectly acceptable in another. For example, in some organizations, being late to meetings is considered disrespectful toward the other participants, and therefore “bad behavior” of the variety that is considered rude, but not unethical. In other organizations, not being on time to meetings is the norm. It is routinely tolerated and, therefore, not even a violation of etiquette.

As we have said, it is vitally important to understand that the stated values of the organization are not the actual values. Every employee is a natural cultural anthropologist who learns the actual values of an organization by observation.

  1. What behaviors are rewarded?
  2. What behaviors are condemned and punished?
  3. What behaviors are ignored?

Ultimately managers and leaders, through ...

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