Do You Have a Dysfunctional Workplace?

Last Updated Oct 31, 2008 12:36 PM EDT

Does your boss act out and throw tantrums like a spoiled child?

Are you afraid to bring up certain hot-button issues in meetings for fear of being humiliated?

Do you spend more time covering your ass than you do sitting on it?

Is your company in a perpetual state of limbo because nobody can make a decision?

Does your company's mission statement change weekly?

Does your company ship most of its product the last 24 hours of the quarter?

These are all signs of a dysfunctional workplace. But don't fret; you're not alone. In fact, an entire lexicon has grown up around dysfunctional corporate behavior. See if you can recognize some of the issues that drive you and your co-workers nuts in these definitions:

  • Analysis paralysis. Chronic debating that obstructs the decision making process and leads to operational failure.
  • Breathing your own fumes. When executives actually start to believe the spin they spew out to the media, analysts, investors, customers and employees.
  • Committing political suicide. Pissing off or going toe-to-toe with your dysfunctional boss or some other self-important executive.
  • CYA. Everyone should know what this means. It's what weak, small-minded people do when they should be doing the right thing instead.
  • Disruptive management style. Euphemism for an executive who chronically swoops into meetings, mucks with projects, and generally makes everyone affected want to strangle him.
  • End of quarter panic. The last week of the quarter when everybody wakes up and actually does their job. Usually followed by 11 weeks of partying.
  • Going down a rathole. When two or more people get into a non-productive argument over a hot topic where neither side will give in so it spirals out of control.
  • Hallway meeting. Executives meet in some obscure place and make decisions in the absence of people who are actually responsible for this sort of thing.
  • Ivory tower mentality. When self-important executives make decisions in a vacuum because they actually have deep feelings of inferiority and fear healthy interaction.
  • Moral flexibility. I first heard this expression in John Cusack's movie Grosse Pointe Blank. It's when narcissistic executives commit fraud and think it's fine.
  • Passive aggressive behavior. When somebody agrees to a plan and then does something completely different without telling anybody.
  • Sacred cow. A self-important executive's pet project that's immune to the company's standard processes.
  • Silo mentality. When departments or divisions act as if they're independent from the rest of the company, often in a defensive way (similar to bunker mentality).
  • Strategy du jour. When dysfunctional executives consistently overreact to a single data point or hallway meeting and take the entire organization in a new direction.
  • Take it offline. What to do when people get completely off-track, often in a raucous display of childish emotion, in what's supposed to be a productive meeting.
If you identify chronic evidence of several of these afflictions in your company, you may wish to consider alternative employment options. If, on the other hand, you're the cause, a little psychotherapy, medication or both probably wouldn't hurt.

There must be dozens more; let us know what we missed. You get extra points for originality.