Dysfunctional workplaces by Washington DC Psychologist, Dr. Lynn Friedman

Dysfunctional workplaces can present difficult and challenging tasks. You have read about difficult bosses but as a boss yourself, your wondering, "what about difficult employees"? And, you have dealt with more than your fair share. Consider these situations:

    You've hired an employee to lighten your load, but at every turn the drag their heels, demand endless supervision and generally drain your time and your resources. What's going on and what can you do about it? (Previously published in the Washington Business Journal)
    Many workplaces tolerate long-term employees who aren't doing their jobs. Over time, other employees learn to work around them, often taking on parts of their jobs. Allowing this sort of behavior has a profound impact on organizational culture and morale. This column examines the effect of this dynamic. (Previously published in the Washington Business Journal)

    You are an officer of a board of trustees, and you have become aware of dissension in the ranks. Beleaguered by constant gossiping, backbiting and insubordination, the corporate workplace is not a happy one. Despite the poor morale, only the stars seem to leave.

    It's ugly -- and, you wish you hadn't discovered it. But you did. You're a senior vice president, and you've uncovered a "borrowing" incident among the rank and file. Melinda, a clerk, has been misappropriating small amounts of petty cash. (Previously published in the Washington Business Journal)
    Many successful people are frustrated and unhappy at work. But how does one clarify and resolve work-life issues? How does one know if one needs help? And, after deciding that help might be useful, how does one know what kind to seek? An important starting point is to identify the work-life conflict. In general, people struggle with three work-life conflicts:

    What do I want to do with my life?

    How do I go about pursuing my goals?

    How do I galvanize myself to get started?

    Consultants are often asked to conduct workshops with the implicit expectation that the workshop will magically change the corporate culture. This is unrealistic and will likely backfire. Instead, corporate leaders seeking organizational change are encouraged to have candid talks describing organizational dynamics and corporate goals with their consultant prior to planning an intervention.
    How do you help and support a superb employee who is sabotaging herself? You are neither a coach nor a psychoaanlyst, but here are some things that you can do to help her to become more self-aware.
    You have diversity among your ranks. You don't want to lose talented people because they feel estranged or "out of it". To promote inclusivity within your corporate team, consider these strategies.
    When you fire an incompetent employee, staff members may be relieved but they still grieve and they still worry, here's why.
    The employee who negotiates a schedule in which he is gone for two hours over a ten hour stretch may not be job hunting. He may be quietly pursuing psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Assuming his work is solid, supporting his effort may be another step in the direction of maintaining a healthy workplace. The silver lining in the cloud: individuals in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are typically able to focus more fully on their work.
    You are attempting to lead, but at every turn your boss undermines your authority. How can you understand this situation and how can you effectively address it?
  • When employees don't do their job, others work around them and pick up the slack. Before firing errant employees, consider each person's role in this, albeit inadvertent, cover-up. This column explores the kinds of factors that may be at play.

About Corporations on the Couch, Washington DC Psychologist

Dr. Lynn Friedman's, nationally-syndicated, Washington Business Journal column

Your job may not be driving you nuts, but if it is Dr. Lynn Friedman knows how to help. By examining workplace dynamics -- hirings, firings, narcissistic bosses and passive aggressive employees, the office scapegoat and the bosses pet, corporate dysfunction and corporate health, happy employees and miserable ones -- Friedman puts "Corporations on the Couch" in her widely popular column by that name. The psychoanalyst, psychologist, Johns Hopkins faculty member, organizational consultant and executive coach explains, in frank and often funny terms, how corporate cultures and corporate leaders support and sustain (albeit inadvertently) the surprising, strange and truly bizarre array of workplace behaviors. And, like any good therapist, Friedman helps readers to get off the couch, build healthy relationships and end bad ones.

Seeking a consultation with Washington DC psychologist Dr. Friedman? Feel free to give her a call at: 301.656.9650

5480 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD, 20815
(1/2 block from the redline, Friendship Heights Metro)


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