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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 61Speak Positively about Those Not Present

Great managers appropriately place a high value on loyalty. When the chips are down, they want to know that they can rely on the loyalty of their people. But loyalty must flow in both directions.

It is easy to criticize, to find fault, to tear others down—in large and small ways. How often do groups of employees go out after work and complain about the boss, or about other employees? This kind of activity is widespread, but it cannot be characterized as harmless. It hurts people, including those who engage in it. There is a reason people would not want their negative remarks shared with their targets. Do not let this type of behavior become part of your culture.

This type of disloyal behavior is damaging in several ways.

  1. It reinforces the speaker's misgivings about the person being discussed.
  2. It leaves a negative impression in the mind of the listeners—not only about the person being discussed, but also about the speaker.
  3. When it gets back to the person being discussed (and it usually does) it reduces engagement and destroys trust.
  4. It causes the targets to doubt their actions or decisions, which undermines their ability to perform with excellence.
  5. It hurts the positive-negative ratio for everyone involved.

If this type of behavior is part of your culture, what do you think people say about you when you are not present? If you believe you are exempt, you are fooling yourself.

What do you say about your people when they are ...

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