Thursday, May 24, 2007
More On Desk Rage
Here is a different perspective on desk rage. Whereas some journalists have characterized desk rage as a form of worker behavior that is unacceptable to management and must be suppressed, the article at the link below suggests that desk rage is tacitly condoned as a tool to intimidate employees. According to Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute, "Employers love desk rage... Most of these bullies have cultivated an executive sponsor ... they get to do this with impunity. The message is, 'Be aggressive. It will get you ahead.'" Corporate managers use desk rage as a terror tactic to increase productivity. Cracking the whip literally is illegal, but cracking it figuratively is not. Not surprisingly, this approach can backfire, producing "hostile work environments [that] lead to turnover, absenteeism and, in extreme cases, lawsuits."
Victims of abusive managers should stand up for themselves, at least to prove that they are not "weak" - but they need to be careful. The bully's own managers may be on his side, not yours. "We are a bullying nation. We not only tolerate that kind of aggression, we reward it with promotion and protection." Abuse can range from sarcastic remarks and teasing to threats of physical violence. In a survey of more than 500 workers, 55 percent said they have witnessed managers raising their voices in anger with an employee, while 17 percent have observed bosses behave in a physically threatening manner. Like desk rage among employees, desk rage among bosses can be attributed to "stress and the pressure to succeed."
The key fact about desk rage is that it occurs along a continuum in the corporate hierarchy - but is often praised as "toughness" at the top, while condemned as "immaturity" or "unprofessionalism" at the bottom.
"Angry at the office" from The Chicago Tribune