In HR they call Passive Aggression (PA) the perfect crime as it
involves a variety of behaviors designed to “get back” at another
person without the other recognising the underlying anger.
I thought they were just “difficult” staff. Now I realise they though
of themselves either as victims or some sort of resistance fighters.
That is victims of bullying or resistance fighters against bad
management . Typically they missed deadlines, failed to hit targets
and didn’t seem concerned. It was never their fault. The deadlines
were unreasonable, the targets unrealistic. It didn’t matter that they
had signed up to them. What was clear to them was that I really didn’t
understand-the business,I was out of touch with life on the front
line, the lack of cooperation from others, the pressure they were
under. There were too many priorities meaning some deadlines had to be
missed. But the first I heard of this was when the deadline had past,
up until them, “every thing was in hand”. My emails to chase up
progress went unanswered. When I asked why I was told we’re too busy
and there are too many emails. And they couldn’t understand why I was
getting so worked up.
This type of behaviour can be found at any level within the
organisation and it is notoriously difficult to deal with. Challenge
it and the first response is often indignation, “ I don’t know why
your so upset. It will get done as soon as I have finished the other
tasks or are you saying this is the new top priority?” Indignation is
followed by procrastination and half hearted effort. The advice from
HR is closer supervision and tighter more explicit targets monitored
over shorter intervals. Which means more one to ones and probably
involving a third party in order to ward off an accusation of bullying.
A classic PA action is simple to go off sick for a couple of days at
a crucial point in a negotiation, the day before a report is due or
when the individual was due to make a key presentation. The aim being
to undermine the manager.
Passive Aggression is more about resistance than competence it can be
difficult to prove and isn’t adequately covered by HR procedures which
is why it is referred to as the perfect office crime.
Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk
Sent from my iPad