National Association of Counties * Washington, D.C. Vol. 33, No. 5 * March 12, 2001
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The HR Doctor recently spoke at a conference in Orlando, Fla. at the same hotel where the XFL (Xtreme Football League) football team, the Chicago Enforcers, were staying. Seeing these players and thinking about the new, highly-hyped football league brought several thoughts to mind.
The first is never stand in a breakfast buffet line behind a team of football players. Their appetites consume not only the food, but the time of the staff and the patience of those behind them. This phenomenon is not unlike the small percentage of employees who consume extraordinary amounts of the time and energy of supervisors (see the HR Doctor article, Rust in Peace at http://www.hrdr.net/.)
The second consideration, however, is the meaning of the new XFL, and what it says about society and how we do business with one another as citizens.
The XFL is allied with professional wrestling, and mimics wrestlings in your face display of violence, anger and commercialization. Even the team names such as the Rage, Maniacs or the Enforcers support this philosophy
As readers know, the HR Doctor helps agencies with the creation of workplace violence policies and the training and skills necessary for managers to be effective problem identifiers, interveners and solvers. The concept of interpersonal problem solving constructively and non-violently becomes a greater challenge in our society daily. In part, this is because we live in a society where there is less willingness to accept personal responsibility and more whining about being victims.
In a world where parents are working longer and harder than before and in which children are often disconnected from physical and psychological ties to their parents, it is important that we develop positive role models for the transmission of values to the next generation. Role models which trivialize violence, which show few if any negative consequences for the perpetrators of violence, absolutely send the wrong message.
Relationships at work, like relationships at home, are influenced by societys role models. A decline in interpersonal problem solving ability and respect for authority combined with the trivialization of violence creates a recipe for big trouble at work.
When you add to the mix a lack of support or training for managers and supervisors, the recipe for disaster is nearly complete. All that is needed is a catalyst. The catalyst may be a crisis at work or in the home life of the employee.
Part of the answer lies in pro-active HR administration training supervisors and providing the skills that build their confidence and support their early and positive intervention at the first signs of trouble such as poor behavior, absenteeism or performance failures.
Part of the answer lies in setting clear expectations about performance and behavior at work, communicating the expectations throughout the workforce regularly and linking outcomes to rewards or sanctions. A major part of the answer is for managers themselves not to display the same behaviors that cause or reinforce trouble at work (see Godzilla the Manager at http://www.hrdr.net/). Another preventive treatment comes through diligent, pre-employment verification of references and credentials.
However, appropriate behaviors need to be reinforced in the community. Every city and county in America should establish close relationships with schools to have internships, workplace shadowing, classroom visits and workplace visits by students to help correct the disconnect!
The HR Doctor advises colleagues and students to take a day off from work, stay home and watch what America watches. Are our real values reflected by the XFL, by professional wrestling, by Jerry Springer, etc? Let us hope not, but let us, as elected and appointed public officials, act to create better alternatives. The HR Doctor wishes you all the best.
Best regards from the HR Doctor.