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Your dairy ... thugs vs. vigilantes?

Tom Wall Published on 19 January 2012

Whenever I see a squad car in the distance, my first reaction is usually to tap my brakes. Mainly, it’s because I’m speeding, but also because it’s a force of habit. And as much as I dread getting pulled over, I’m actually a pretty big fan of police officers.

Just like the majority of the people who respect and obey the laws of the land, I have no reason to fear or avoid the police. Their job is to enforce our laws and protect the people within their jurisdiction.

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But what happens when they don’t or can’t?

Last year, we witnessed the lawlessness of “flash mobs” and “Occupy” protests all over the country. The destructive impact of some of these “participants” was initially too much to handle for the local police forces. Innocent people were assaulted, property was stolen and, in some cases, vehicles and buildings were set on fire.

Eventually, the authorities regained control and order was restored. But the detail that’s grabbed my attention has been the response of the law-abiding people. In the absence and shortage of a police force, it seems that the “good guys” will always take to the street to defend their neighbors and their neighborhood.

They proved that an overwhelming majority of people want to live in a place where laws are respected and their safety and property is protected. And that same sentiment carries over to the workplace, too.

Whether you realize it or not, the majority of your employees sincerely want some basic rules to be established and enforced at work. These employees already do the right thing because they know they should. For the most part, people are inherently good and simply want everyone else to do what’s right as well.

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The problem lies in the fact that not everyone shares these same values. Like passwords and padlocks, most rules and regulations weren’t created to deal with honest and trustworthy people. Instead, most policies exist to deal with the other people ... the ones who actively choose to do wrong in spite of the consequences.

These are the people who only follow rules and protocols when they think someone is watching. And as you can probably imagine, these are the co-workers the “good guys” can’t stand to work with.

Hopefully you already know who’s who at your dairy. But regardless of whether you’re completely aware of who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are, everyone else on the team knows what their co-workers are up to. And oftentimes, that tends to be the problem.

Although everyone without authority knows what’s going on, the person who’s supposed to be in charge is often unaware or oblivious to what’s really happening among the ranks. There’s only one thing worse than that … and that’s when the manager knows what’s going on, yet still chooses to ignore it.

And when that’s the case, the vigilantes often emerge. Under the “leadership” of an inattentive, hands-off manager who’s unwilling to address issues important to the team (like punctuality, work ethic and follow-through), the good guys choose to take the matter into their own hands.

Sure, to some degree, we want the team to police itself. But many times, they administer discipline and justice in ways that only fuel more dissension and conflict.

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Unfortunately, there are just two other alternatives to vigilante-style justice, and neither one is very good. One is to join the “boss” and do nothing, allowing the “bad guys” to continue causing problems. And the other is to accept that the struggle between right and wrong isn’t worth the effort and just quit.

Ironically, your “good guys” leave and the “mob rule” continues until it becomes your company culture.

Regardless of what city someone lives in or what company they work at, most people simply want to be in a place where rules, order and respect are the norms. At the core, the majority of people are good and truly want the rest of world to be held accountable for their actions.

Ultimately, when a few start ruining it for the others, something has to be done. The question is ... do you have the courage to do it? PD

00_wall_tom

Tom Wall
President
Dairy Interactive, LLC

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