Malicious Obedience and Responsibility

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of examples of this …

Malicious obedience is discussed on the englishstackexchange page (who even knew this existed) as

“….when people set their boss up to fail by doing exactly as he or she says even though they know in their hearts that their actions are incorrect or not optimal.”

I would add that it also  includes taking zero personal responsibility. For example, let’s say you are the administrative assistant in an organization and you have been running lots of personal errands during work hours. The boss tells you that you need to stay at your desk. However, part of your job is to take the mail to the post office and in today’s mail is a major grant proposal that needs to be postmarked today. You don’t mail it and when the company loses out on a huge amount of money you protest self-righteously that you were told to stay at your desk.

In this case, as very often happens in the work place, you had two conflicting directives – one to stay at your desk and a second to take the mail to the post office.

Of two conflicting orders, you CHOSE to do the one that caused the company harm.

I have seen this sort of thing played out over and over. Never once have I seen the individual involved accept any responsibility.

An article in Infoworld gives  a great way to discuss this with an employee , I quoted them here because I could not have said it better myself

“I don’t know what you think you’re going to accomplish, but what you are going to accomplish is finding yourself another position – this isn’t acceptable, and I really don’t care how good you are at loopholing policies and guidelines to prove you didn’t violate any of them. What I care about is getting the job done well, and that isn’t what you’re doing. …You’ll need the documentation because employees who act this way are brilliant at denial – both to you and to themselves. And know in advance that the odds aren’t all that good – mostly, you’re putting yourself through this to satisfy yourself that you did the right thing. “

I really don’t know what other people who are maliciously obedient are trying to accomplish. As others have written, I think they are trying to sabotage their bosses because they are unhappy in their positions. As I have said before, if you are that unhappy in a job – quit.

In my youth, I have been that pain in the ass employee who did not work up to their potential due to being unhappy for a variety of reasons – not being paid enough, not having my own office, not having an expense account, working for a boss who was technologically illiterate – you get the idea. The point is,  I was at fault – yes, even in the one position where my boss was an idiot (I’ve usually been amazingly lucky when it comes to bosses, but there will always be that one).

I had taken the job at that salary, with those benefits, with that boss (okay, in that case I might say the truth in advertising rule was violated because the boss did not announce during the interview, “I AM AN IDIOT,” but it was also my fault for not asking more questions.)

I can tell you what I was trying to accomplish and it is embarrassing to admit – I was trying to prove I was smarter than my boss.  (Even the smart bosses I had – and that was all but one of them – I thought would have been smarter to have paid me more money, given me an expense account, etc. )  I was acting stupid. The time I spent hanging around trying to prove I was smarter than my boss was wasted.

My point, which you may despaired of me having by now, is that the right thing for me to have done was either do the job to the best of my ability or quit.

Since I have written today about being a dumbass as an employee, in the interest of fair time, I guess I will have to write next about being a dumbass as a boss.

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Speaking of bosses and business – check out Spirit Lake: The Game version 4.0 

It makes math awesome.

 

local_offerevent_note November 5, 2014

account_box AnnMaria De Mars

2 thoughts on “Malicious Obedience and Responsibility”

  • Dear AnnaMaria,
    This blog hit home. My work history has compiled of civil service and public relations responsibilities. The problem I ran into the most was ethical issues such as work ethos, trustworthiness so and so forth. In my opinion if you can find work with like mindedness in ethics, your off to a good start. Unfortunately most jobs don’t pay you for being a decent person. Mostly employers see employee stats and not what type of human you are.

  • In my experience most of management is comprised of completely lazy and incompetent individuals who got promotions thru church connections, nepotism or ass kissery. It is a joy to follow their orders and plunge the company into financial ruin!! In my experience the idiot manager who gave the wrong instructions never takes responsibility, so I get it in writing. The idiot manager who gave the wrong instructions is also usually promoted so they can, “do less damage”. This is why most American companies are doomed.

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