The Work Double-Standard

Research shows that we are all hypocrites.   In our personal lives it’s easy to detect our hypocrisy any time we criticize another.   At work, our hypocrisy may look a little different, but appears to occur with both employers and employees.

Employers may:

  • Expect loyalty but downsize you in a heartbeat
  • Expect you to do whatever it takes to get the job done but not provide the training/resources to do that job right.
  • Expect you to be on time in the AM but don’t notice if you work overtime. Oh and by the way, you better make sure you report your annual leave whenever you need a few hours off.
  • Expect your hardest and best work which may not be recognized or rewarded. However, your mistakes will be pointed out immediately.
  • Expect you to have a good attitude even if they ignore/complain/criticize the organization or its employees.
  • Have unrealistic expectations then get frustrated when morale is down.
  • Ask you to take on additional duties or responsibility but then tell you that you haven’t earned a raise, new title or promotion.
  • Tell you there isn’t money for raises/bonuses or for the supplies/new position that is needed…but there’s plenty of money when it comes to their own raise, bonus or needed resources.
  • Expect you to be open to constructive criticism and improvement while ignoring their own.
  • Complain about the laziness or incompetence of an employee, but when that person quits, divide her job into two positions.
  • Avoid promoting from within citing a lack of qualified applicants, but also fail to groom people for leadership positions.
  • Complain that employees don’t appreciate their job but rarely thank the employees when they do a good job.
  • Complain about a situation that they’ve either created or have the power to change.
  • Expect employees to make sacrifices for the organization but won’t go out of their way to help the employee.
  • Have contempt for the employees but want to be treated with respect.
  • Criticize what’s actually good practice for productivity (taking breaks, naps and socializing with co-workers), while ignoring real issues (bullying, harassment, poor fiscal management, poor leadership/management skills, safety issues, toxic employees).

Employees are guilty too. They may:

  • Complain about the status quo but not support the change that does happen, take action to create change, or support the change efforts of others.
  • Hate their job but then are surprised if they get either fired or a poor evaluation.
  • Treat continued employment, raise or bonus as an entitlement, but quality work as optional.
  • Want job security but will leave the minute a better job is available.
  • Want thanks, praise and recognition without ever thanking or recognizing their employer.
  • Expect the job to be not too demanding but also expect a raise or promotion.
  • Complain that the boss doesn’t understand what they do but also complain about things they don’t understand.
  • Gripe about the lack of communication but not read organizational emails and newsletters.
  • Have contempt for the organization or boss but want to be treated with respect.

In other words, pointing your finger at work is really not different from your personal life.   Before you open your mouth to complain about someone else, consider how you might be similarly guilty. It’s a hypocrisy-busting exercise that can produce personal insights and a better attitude, though not as fun as complaining.  I guess you’ll have to settle for socializing by the water cooler.

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