Roadside bombings, drive-by shootings, tourists held at gunpoint, we are familiar with these headlines describing terrorist activities. Desperate for a method to get what they want, terrorists resort to tactics that invoke fear in the hearts of even the most secure and confident people.
Terrorists feel totally justified in taking other people’s lives and see their victims as guilty of one thing or another. They take it even so far as suicide, and sacrificing the defenseless and clearly innocent (like children) as a means to the end of their cause.
Perhaps, more insidious than the headline terrorists are the everyday terrorists who operate in the corridors of the modern workplace. We don’t have to look to the streets of a distant city for these people.
These people hijack our businesses and our time. They covet our attention, energy, and talent. They are charmers, masterful manipulators and seemingly everyone’s friend. They are intellectuals who look very busy and have all day to talk about your feelings, but no time to talk about theirs. When the real work is being done, they are nowhere to be seen; yet, when the work is over, they take all the credit! When things go wrong, it is never their fault.
Does this describe anyone you know?
These everyday terrorists use intimidation and domination tactics so masterfully that you don’t even know they are doing it. Just like the headline terrorists, their “real” target is the strong leader, the powerful group, the successful, responsible person.
Their underlying motives are fueled by insecurity and jealousy. They bulldoze anyone who is in their way. They demand all the attention and will “take down” anyone who is taking the limelight from them.
Any kind of attention will do: positive – or – negative.
They “hit and cry,” when confronted with what they have done. They claim they are the real victim and are innocent.
Systems are the enemy of the everyday terrorist. They hate them, and anything that holds them to account for their results, and their behaviors. These people will say “yes, yes” to your face, then turn around and do exactly what they want to do.
With the current economic crisis putting extra stress on our organizations and our workplaces, many of these people who were hidden and undiscovered are now being flushed out and are acting up even more.
Many of their colleagues describe them as being “out of control” and bullying anyone who stands in their way.
Some research has indicated that 81% of these everyday terrorists are in fact the supervisors, managers, and executives in charge! Many people think most of these characters are men… however, there are as many women as men!
Having said that, it is interesting to note that 71% of the targets of these everyday terrorists are women.
Victims live in a constant state of fear and often suffer both emotional and financial harm. Symptoms include headaches, depression, inability to sleep and feeling drained to the point of exhaustion.
You may be thinking that bulldozing is necessary to get the job done, or “the end justifies the means” (headline terrorists think this, too) or that people are easily replaceable. However, if you consider the true cost of lost productivity, the resultant absenteeism and the replacement cost of these people, you will soon realize that the cost of this behavior is very high.
According to a recent study conducted by Psychologist Michael H. Harrison Ph.D., on 9,000 federal employees, the total cost was as high as $20,000 per employee ($180 million in total.)
Under the current economic circumstances, why do some people adapt to the pressure while others use it as an excuse to behave badly? Do you find yourself having to deal with these people, or are you one of them and find it unbearable to be around yourself?
Is this an opportunity for a call to right action, or is it permission to hold others hostage to your behaviors?
The most dangerous are the ones who can keep their feelings hidden and are numb to the fact that they even have them. These people are in the denial-zone and suck the Lifeforce out of everyone around them with a smile or a stone face. You can recognize them by the behavior of the people around them. If you are reading this and think you are the level-headed intellectual who is so above having these negative feelings, then you are likely to be one of these people.
At the Goldzone Organization, we decided several years ago to create an environment that has zero tolerance for everyday terrorist behavior. The key to this is accountability and safety for everyone to report anyone – regardless of their position.
As a result, we created systems to make it easy to report and clear up incidents before they become serious and too costly. We then automated these systems and integrated them with our enterprise computer systems. We are currently in the process of making these systems available for free via an iPhone application that can be used by anyone, anytime and in any environment.
If the future success of your organization is dependent on creativity and innovation, these everyday terrorists – if left unaddressed – will destroy the synergy, passion, creativity and spirit of your team.