Category Archives: Wellbeing

Introduction – Management techniques and toxic workplaces.

Predicting Human Performance

Driving a workforce against performance targets can be a risky but rewarding affair but how can we gauge success with reasonable confidence, and equip people to succeed? 

According to one model attributed to H. Sanford known as the challenge and support model, the factors that determine human performance over time are the scale of the challenge, and the amount (and type) of support available to achieve the task.

Growth

Performance outcomes are predictable.  Of the four likely outcomes to any task predicted by the challenge support model, only one scenario leads to complete success and truly great performance.  This is called Growth.

Death

Another scenario, euphemistically called Death, predicts breakdown and failure.  Death is the consequence of too much challenge coupled with too little support.  In the workplace, death is literally the end of the line for individual workers and can lead to poor health for many others. 

In Death, stress, and burnout have regularly exceeded tolerable levels and have impacted on the person or persons assigned the task with predictable outcomes such as a high staff turnover, the potential actual death of a worker, and subsequent losses for the employer.

Team Work

According to Belbin, good management practice is to support people by building well developed teams.  A well developed team comprises people with various personality traits in enough abundance to sustain the activity and provide support for individual workers.

Positive Team Skills

Belbin names the six positive characteristics of team workers.  Both the challenge and support model and Belbin’s approach have developed into defacto standards in leadership and management and in combination they form the mainstay of modern leadership training.

Management Practice

Any workforce or team usually has an appointed manager, in a hierarchy of managers,  He or she is someone who not only drives the task but who’s role it is to maintain a productivity and performance.

Job Satisfaction

Truly great managers learn to build teams and balance the level of challenge and support in such a way as to sustain a steady rise in growth.  Happiness and pride in the product provide a degree of satisfaction.

Incentives

Work (used to be) incentivised in order to recruit and retain skills,  From the workforce, managers were selected and trained to understand not only their job, but the additional skill and workplace psychology needed to manage people.  The entire workforce benefited in the long term by development opportunities which included training, promotions and social improvement which secured the future of families.  

Fairness

Truly great management is a mindset.  It should be a satisfying experience for managers and workers alike. 

It takes qualities such as empathy to bond people into teams, and to a job, and loyalty to retain them.  Management is about supporting people and therefore depends on a particular mindset which in turn comes out in the selection process.

Alternative Management Styles

Managers nurtured in structured management systems, as described above, and people who come to work expecting to be treated fairly and have satisfying and rewarding jobs will struggle mentally in alternative management systems because of their different characteristics. Briefly one such alternative paradigm sustains growth by replacing burnt out workers from a steady supply of fresh, cheap labour who are disposable.  In this unacceptable approach, the mindset required to manage people will disregard the human factors evidenced by the Challenge \ support model and Belbin Team skills and is more likely to mis-use them to get what they want.  For the toxic mindset, satisfaction is something they crave – for themselves.  This mindset brings different team skills into play. 

Toxic management is the result of employing and idolising people who’s character traits align with the dark triad of behaviours and who don’t care for people – just results. 

In the resulting tyranny, according to the late Dr Tim Field, anything goes as long as management gets what it wants.  For example when a toxic boss doesn’t get what he or she wants – he or she will circumvent any agreed management process or contract and exploit fear backed up by increasing the level of challenge and removing support.  According to Field, alternative management styles have a number of repeatable and highly offensive processes aimed at getting what the toxic boss wants.  

This alternative management practice is prevalent, both in the workforce and the community.   

What Works Wellbeing says its goal is to improve, and save, lives through better policy and practice for wellbeing.

A good starting point would be the policy that allows alternative management approaches to flourish.  What currently  prevents wellbeing from being realised is that power, in the form of budget and control is often in the hands of toxic managers and the results are hidden.  No problem for a toxic mindset. 

In the next article we will be outlining the criteria for fair management policy that supports wellbeing at work.


Stuart Dixon



Notes about Armando Martins Case Study No 3 and emotional blackmail 31/10/18

Background
The victim in case three is an elderly man whose next door neighbour accused him thirty years ago, of interfering with her TV set.  Relationships have never been good since this was resolved.  He is well known in the community for his hobby, being a licensed radio amateur.  His profile is quite high in the neighbourhood due to his garden antenna system.  He gets on well with his other neighbours – most of whom support him. 

Recently he has been the recipient of several types of unwanted behaviour as follows:  

Type 1.  False accusations of licence breaches delivered via secretive symbolic messages left on the doorstep of his home by an anonymous caller.  The symbol used is that used by CB radio operators to accuse each other of causing problems by “improper” use of his radio, breaking the terms of his licence.

Editors Note:  In common with other cases being compiled in support of Armando Martins, this feature implies the perpetrator has a need to torment the victim.  It implies he is being observed breaking rules and the potential to involve the authorities.  It is a veiled threat therefore.  The same symbol has appeared several times in the last few years. 

Type 2.  More recently he received a malicious call about his hobby purporting to come from the authorities and telling him he would be in breach of the rules of his licence, if he didn’t act.  This caused the victim to respond.

These incidents he thinks are pranks, however the frequency and numbers of incidents are building up and this is upsetting for him and his wife.  Someone is “getting off” on causing them anxiety.

Emotional Blackmail

Type 3. The neighbour next door’s demeanour has never been good, but recently she has made a number of caustic remarks about him and his hobby containing threats to disrupt him by reporting him to the council.  This attempt at coercive control was delivered over a number of incidents, one of which included complaints to his wife shouted through a communal wall, and accompanied by banging on the wall.  This occurred while she was indoors enjoying TV and he was enjoying a session of radio operating in the shed. 

When they eventually spoke, there was an allegation of TV Interference and the neighbour adopted a more threatening stance.

Despite his offers to resolve the situation, which mean accessing the neighbours TV to test it, she refuses and continues to threaten him saying she will have it stopped by the council.  The victim takes the correct action and obtains a leaflet from the BBC and gives it to the neighbour.  The neighbour insists she will do it her way. 

NB.  It is the BBC who have the technical resources to locate and prevent the interference.  The council don’t have any (but do have enforcement officers).

She isn’t interested – she wants to invoke sanctions that close him down. 

Anxiety levels are raised.  Her attitude and demeanour imply if the victim doesn’t comply with her rules, he will face the “bureaucrats” at the council or some other judgement.  As of today the victim awaits a call from the council and is in fear that they will act on her complaint rather than leave it to the proper authority.  (A few weeks later there is a distinctly toxic atmosphere).  While the victim said that he wasn’t losing any sleep it was clear now that he sees this as a threat to his livelihood.  In his mind he is continually questioning the situation – racking his brains, looking for reasons why he is under attack, what the next steps may be and how to deal with it – fearing the worst.  

In January 2019 the victim received a visit at night from two officers from Kent Police asking what was going on with his neighbour and for him to comment on her mental state. The purpose of the visit was vague although the victim links this with previous threats and false accusations.

NB.  The behaviour of this neighbour bears a strong resemblance to that shown in Nightmare Neighbours Next Door Series 5 Episode 8.  This has been screened multiple times on multiple channels of Freeview TV – ed.

Stuart Dixon