Hawks and Doves

This isn't a political commentary. It's a story. We came home from a weekend trip and entered the house through the garage. So didn't notice it right away, not until I opened the front door there it was. Bird features – a lot of them, some in clumps – all over the courtyard. I asked my neighbor, Fran, if they had noticed anything unusual. “It was a hawk murder,” she said. 

We have many doves in our new neighborhood who delight us with their cooing. Unfortunately the hawk, who’s been frequently spotted and shooed away by a frustrated Fran, knows about this dove population too. In the laws of nature, the hawk is a predator, and this weekend with no human residents around as a deterrent, a poor dove fell victim to his prey. We witnessed all the evidence in our courtyard. 

In the workplace, managers often have to contend with hawks, the aggressive and competing types, as well as doves, who are all about compromising, being cooperative, and finding peace.  While managers may have to mediate differences between these two, or other types, a manager should never tolerate predatory, aggressive and competing behavior from any type. That means no cutting sarcasm or thoughtless humor. No jokes at others expense. No dismissive behavior – ignoring colleagues input or talking over each other in meetings. 

Managers have the responsibility to address and stop disruptive workplace behavior.  Respectfully confront the individual engaging in such behavior and explain why it’s wrong. “You may intend that joke to be funny, but it’s belittling and demeaning.” And, let the individual know that the behavior has to stop. 

Don’t wait until you observe such behavior. Be proactive. Talk about disruptive behavior of all types – harassment and bullying are the extreme examples – in staff meetings. “Comments and jokes that take aim at others are not professional and don’t belong in the workplace.” Have open conversations about the organization’s policies and culture, listen to employee’s concerns and encourage everyone to speak up. This will not only support and maintain a positive culture, it will build your personal credibility. 

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