6. Snakes In Suits: surely HR impedes their progress?

Psychopaths can’t survive in bureaucratic organizations, can they?

The given wisdom was, that psychopathic individuals, “would not last long, or be very successful, in a highly structured traditional bureaucracy, for several important reasons. First, psychopaths are generalized rule-breakers; rules and regulations mean little to them. The sheer number of policies governing how companies must act, as well as the fact that managers and supervisors are responsible for enforcing them, makes them inhospitable to those prone to psychopathic behavior. It is unlikely that they would even consider working for one unless they know the boss/owner and could get away with getting a paycheck without actually producing any work.

Second, we know that psychopaths are not team players. They are far too selfish to work with others toward common goals. Effective manipulation relies on three important conditions: (1) the psychopath needs one-on-one access to the individual, (2) the fostered relationship is private, and (3) there can be no means to bring their deviant behavior to the attention of management. In bureaucratic organizations, where teams do much of the work, it would be difficult to gain such restricted access to useful individuals, and for clandestine manipulation and serious counterproductive behavior to go unnoticed. All employees are expected to be productive, focused on achieving objectives, and not abusive toward their colleagues. Given that prosocial behaviors and attitudes are difficult for those with a psychopathic personality to maintain in any consistent way, how could they possibly survive?

Third, psychopaths have little genuine interest in the short-or long-term goals and objectives of the organization. Any suggestion that their efforts should take into account the good of the company would be foreign to them. They are much more likely to be motivated and guided by relatively immediate needs and gratifications-a quick score…

Fourth, bureaucratic organizations do not offer an easy means to hide. Counterproductive work behaviors that are visible to others and reported to management often are dealt with through human resource policies. Internal auditors typically investigate suspicions of fraud or theft. If proven true, these may eventually lead to legal action by the organization against the employee. Often, termination and a negative employment reference result.

Fifth, psychopaths do not share the same work ethic of most other workers, belief in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, or value long-term employment. It is difficult to imagine that a psychopath would work diligently from nine to five in the hope of becoming a manager in five or six years. This does not mean that psychopaths never work in routine jobs or in trades or professions that would seem to require training and experience. Many do, but it is very likely that their qualifications are questionable, their performance of self-serving, and their actions maybe even illegal. Think of high-pressure sales representatives,  predatory repair people, “pump and dump” stock promoters,  Internet scammers, fraudulent counselors, and shady professionals of all sorts…

What about the so-called successful psychopaths? How do they survive and thrive in a big company, especially one that is highly bureaucratic? The fact is that many modern organizations are prime feeding grounds for psychopaths with an entrepreneurial bent and the charisma and social skills to fool many people. Like all predators,  psychopaths go where the action is, which to them means positions, occupations, professions, and organizations that afford them the opportunity to obtain power, control, status, and possessions, and to engage in exploitative interpersonal relationships…

To succeed in an organization, psychopaths would have to operate covertly, cognizant of the policies, rules, regulations, and official codes of conduct, but able to circumvent for a significant amount of time. They would have to manipulate many coworkers and managers into believing their lies while neutralizing the negative impact of any coworkers who discover (and threaten to uncover) their lies and deceit. To manipulate coworkers, compliance systems, and management observations consistently would be very difficult indeed, possibly beyond the ability of all but the most talented and persistent. Few psychopaths would have the wherewithal to try it, and those who did would fail quickly. Or so we once thought.”

#SnakeInSuits #workplaceculture #HR #Management #workplacebullying

Leave a Reply