Careless conversations, costly mistakes: Coercive managers and organizations in the litigious spotlight

Common Ground Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, 2006, 5 (1), pp. 95 - 102
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Despite what we know about the psychology of human behaviour at work and communication, careless conversations on the part of managers to each other and to other employees have an enormous human resource cost to organisations and, emotionally, to those involved. This paper is based on a number of case studies in which careless conversations by managers have led to: workers compensation claims; sick leave; prolongation of workers compensation and sick leave; staff turnover; organisational ineffectiveness; low morale; and mental and physical illness. These case studies have unearthed several manifestations of careless conversations. These include: inappropriate emotional responses on the part of managers; a failure to recognise the impact of punishment for what are relatively minor breaches of policy on hard working employees; covert punishment; lack of recognition for hard work; job insecurity; favouritism; unresolved conflict; inability to deal with people in distress; ignoring the prompt resolution of work problems; workers compensation paralysis; ignoring issues of justice; and ignorance of individual styles and needs. The reasons for this behaviour are discussed and we argue that this is largely a preventable problem and provide a number of solutions.
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