Yelling doesn’t work … and 5 other obvious workplace truths

This stunning revelation prompts the author to ponder other truths about on-the-job decorum that are widely accepted. Or are they?

I recently read The Wall Street Journal’s article “When the Boss is a Screamer,” which I found fascinating because it essentially explained what I thought to be an obvious truth—that yelling at your subordinates is wrong.

The declaration that tickled me most was: “The new consensus among managers is that yelling alarms people, drives them away rather than inspiring them, and hurts the quality of their work.”

So that’s the new consensus, huh? Does that not make you laugh? I picture a room full of old suits in a huddle grumbling and voting on whether they should continue yelling at their employees as a motivational method.

Five other behaviors not appropriate at work

Is this not a scary example of how out of touch some managers may be? Although the de-motivational reality of yelling seemed like an obvious one to me, evidently not everyone knew this according to the article. Or rather, they knew it but understood they could no longer now get away with it.

Therefore I’m going to take the amusing statement I mentioned above and replace the word “yelling” with five other frowned-upon behaviors you should already know are not appropriate at work.

1. “The new consensus is that sexual harassment alarms people, drives them away rather than inspiring them, and hurts the quality of their work.” “What Ryder, you mean to tell me my come-ons at work don’t inspire people?” Yeah I know this is a bit obvious, but considering that 64 percent of people still see sexual harassment as an issue according to a 2011 Langer Research Associates survey, maybe it isn’t so apparent.

2. “The new consensus is that drug use alarms people, drives them away rather than inspiring them, and hurts the quality of their work.” That’s right; just in case you didn’t know smoking that doobie in the parking lot before walking in might “alarm” some people. Still despite this obvious fact, a national survey conducted by the Hazelden foundation showed that more than 60 percent of adults knew someone that had gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

3. “The new consensus is that viewing pornography at your desk alarms people, drives them away, and hurts the quality of their work.” Wow, if for some reason you didn’t know this already not much is more embarrassing than when Brittany, the cute HR girl, pops her head over your cubicle to see you watching … well, you know.

Porn, the workplace elephant in the room, is becoming a growing problem among both men and women. Studies show that two out of three HR professionals say they have found pornography on their employees’ computers. According to a recent Nielsen study, 25 percent of online employees visit porn-related websites every day. Wow—25 percent? OK then; to 25 percent of you, this behavior might hurt your work. Moving on…

4. “The new consensus is that racism alarms people, drives them away rather than inspiring them, and hurts the quality of their work.” Maybe you didn’t know sexual harassment, snorting cocaine, or viewing X-rated material was bad, but please, tell me you know not to insult someone’s race, religion, appearance, or anything else about them. Let’s just say that insulting people in general drives them away and hurts the quality of their work—if you didn’t already know this.

5. “The new consensus is that dropping excessive F-bombs alarms people, drives them away rather than inspiring them, and hurts the quality of their work.” OK, I’ll grant a little leeway on this one because we all have bad days, but depending on what part of the country you come from, you may say F#%K just a tad too much. I’m speaking to my Yankee brethren. A well-placed, “Oh, fudge!” as Ralphie would say, is sometimes impactful, but using it nine times at the water cooler while discussing last night’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars” is going to make some people cringe.

When applying for a job you would not use it during a face-to-face interview or even a video interview, so perhaps the same rules should apply once you land the job. And whatever you do, please don’t put it in an email! As for women, studies show the use of this word is even more damaging to their cause and often distracts the listener from whatever point they are trying to make.

Though these are five obviously wrong workplace behaviors, they continue to occur according to several studies. I’ve given you only five, but surely you can fill in the blank for more. What are some workplace behaviors that seem so obviously wrong to you and yet you still see them continuing in the workplace?

Fill in the blank: “The new consensus is that ____________ alarms people, drives them away rather than inspiring them, and hurts the quality of their work.”

Ryder Cullison is the Client Relationship Manager at Hire-Intelligence, and the main contributor to the Hire-Intelligence blog. Contact him at rcullison@hire-intelligence.com. A version of this article first appeared on TLNT.com.

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