Compliments of JHayne via Flickr

Compliments of JHayne via Flickr

Sexual harassment can occur indirectly. In sexual favoritism (which is the result of a liaison with the boss), linked individuals may have privileged access to both information and power. These people have the supervisor’s ear, and for better or worse an undue degree of influence.

The association does not have to be sexual to be perceived as unfair. The boss’s buddy, either through grit determination, personal solicitation, and/or sycophancy may attain the spot of confidant. Problems arise when managers take their word at face value (particularly when it’s negative) and fail to consult maligned parties.

Marsupial type relations occur when workers compensate for lack of proficiency by feeding managers juicy morsels. This state of affairs requires two predisposed parties: a conductor employee, and an interrogator boss. The more goodies people receive in terms of perks/encouragement/pats on the head (for squirreling away information), the more they’ll feel the necessity to nark. This can put peers in the uncomfortable situation of tiptoeing around the boss’s pet, kowtowing to their predilections to ensure they don’t later snitch.

This is not how persons perceived as equals should behave. If you’re a manager, avoid becoming known as the local pet owner. The tidbits pets bring you may be titillating, but your morbid fascination (in things which should be peer issues) does little to encourage productivity.

To avoid adopting your own personal menagerie, attempt the following:

  • Adopt the stance of a self-managed team “unleader,” who behaves more like a conduit, facilitator, cheerleader, and expeditor.
  • Make it a point to speak to everyone on a periodic basis (both in groups, and one-on-one). This activity will alleviate the perceived need for “pets.”
  • When they’re about to unpack their latest gossip load, explain to marsupial wanna-bes that they don’t have a horse in this race – and that the most productive action for them to take is most likely within their own office.
  • Assign consequences. Advise individuals that their employment is conditioned upon ability to behave as supportive team members, by allowing for 360 degree appraisal. That way, more senior bullies who choose not to advance (or, who are perhaps dethroned from the prospect) are out in full view.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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