Microaggression and Management is an interesting article I found on Medium, a forum that curates a bunch of longer-format articles and blog posts. I don’t always have time to read the articles recommended but I thought I check out this one during a break.
I have to say my reaction the article was quite visceral. I have experienced all of the negative behaviours noted in the article at one time or another during my career. In some cases, I was dealing with a large number of these “micro-aggressive” behaviours on an ongoing basis from multiple sources within an organization. I also know friends who have run into managers exhibiting this same group of behaviours. In one case, a friend experienced this with every boss he worked for, to the point that he now works for himself and is happier for it.
Keep in mind, I’m a heterosexual male of European descent and I ran into this schoolyard behaviour fairly regularly. I can’t imagine how much this type of conduct is suffered through by women, minorities and those who have non-standard gender preferences. It’s very much like that type of deportment is condoned in a widespread manner in any number of organizations in spite of the work being done by various groups to stamp it out.
This aggressive alpha-male attitude seems to get people promoted within certain organizations carrying out certain lines of business that maintain a “fast-paced and flexible” work environment. There are exceptions starting to appear but in most cases it seems that many C-level executives fit this paradigm.
I suppose continued awareness of this behaviour and the slow changing of people’s attitude towards it will eventually result in actual change in the workplace. I fear, for now, most people keep suffering through it in silence. Reporting such conduct is difficult. Most of these negative management activities are hard for the plaintiff to prove and most definitely will result in negative repercussions to that person. In the end, Management holds all the cards and get rid of a troublesome employee by “packaging them out”. Often, the employers liability is quite limited due to there being a signed employee agreement in place that the employee has little choice but to sign when they start work for an organization.
I guess things may change in a slow, evolutionary way in that companies that condone and support micro-aggressive behaviour in their managers will eventually not be able to find the talent they need. At that point they will be forced to change. Perhaps in a few generations, such behaviour will seem antiquated and barbarous, much like the blatant sexist attitudes toward women or the racist attitudes towards minorities in the ’50’s and ’60’s seem to us now.
Perhaps such positive change will happen eventually but it’ll be too slow help employees suffering through poisonous management styles now.