What would you do if a manager you worked with (not for) was a master of taking credit for other people’s work? What would you do if this person’s main participation in groups was arrogantly criticizing other people’s work? If that weren’t enough, this person also makes demands of other staff and other departments without any regard for their deadlines and commitments. What if this manager recently got a big promotion? How angry are you? Probably pretty angry. Now, what will you do about it? You may be thinking about making this person look bad—or maybe something worse. Here’s what I would do.
I’ve been talking with a business associate who is in this exact situation. The more she thinks about her situation, the angrier she gets. Her thoughts range from confronting the guy in a meeting to her desire to sabotage the guy. That’s not what I would do. The angrier she gets, the more I counsel her to be more objective, less emotional and focus on her work instead of his behavior. What should she do? I say she should do nothing. Why? Because these destructive people always get their due.
The one thing I know for sure in business today is that what goes around comes around. The other thing I know for sure is that you won’t always be around to see what comes around when it comes. Can you live with that? I can. I’ve seen some lazy, devious, self-serving professionals have a meteoric rise, despite bad behavior. I’ve also seen some of them have an equally interesting descent into “managing the file cabinet” oblivion. There have also been some badly behaved people that I’ve never seen get their just due. That’s fine, too.
I’m happier taking the high road by doing my job, staying away from these people and standing up in a nice way for my employees and myself. Professionals who play the gotcha game with these losers are going to come up short. It’s awfully difficult for kind people to look themselves in the mirror after radically changing their behavior for the worst. Behaving badly is just not part of good people’s personalities. Developing bad behaviors is an unproductive waste of time.
I was recently talking to my business associate to get an update on her business situation. Imagine my delight when I heard that she was tapped to be on a high-profile committee to do some strategic work for her company. I was delighted that she –being a good guy –had seen positive results in her career without having to do anything negative. I’m sure she’s off to more career success in the future. You see, sometimes the good guys do win.