This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

January 12, 2005

Avoidance of Confrontation

Clients and other subscribers have noticed that a significant number of people avoid confrontation in the workplace. They are reluctant to ask for increases in compensation, more training, or different job assignments. These employees would rather change employers than risk the resistance or negative consequences from bosses that may not support their requests.

People who see things that are wrong are hesitant to point them out. They fear the repercussions of whistle-blowing, so they simply say---and do---nothing. When they become too uncomfortable with ethics violations, quality deficiencies, or sick cultures, they leave their organizations rather than raise issues or take corrective action. While we hear inspiring stories of people who have won awards and recognition for taking the risks and raising the alarm about financial irregularities or compliance violations in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, many employees who discover problems look the other way or leave the offending organization. The consequences for those who suffer as a result of their silence can be enormous.

When suppliers fail to meet customer expectations, the customer representatives let the problems slide or ignore them. They do not stand up for the company, protecting the company's interest, to insist that suppliers meet the required standards. Many consumers exhibit the same behavior, not informing retailers when they're happy and when they're dissatisfied.

The danger of this avoidance trend is the power gained by people and organizations that engage in harmful practices. On a very local basis, supervisors---and even front-line employees---who are incompetent are encouraged to continue their inappropriate behaviors. Valued employees and customers leave, damaging the company, school, or government agency. They develop negative attitudes, their expectations are lowered, and this trend pushes our society to a lower level of achievement and progress.

Take the trend to an international level and terrorists gain power and control because people fear the risks of resistance. This example may stretch the issue of avoidance of confrontation and almost sound like we encourage aggressive defense. We take no position on this matter, but use the global perspective to relate to terrorist behavior in the corporate setting.

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