Company culture is a delicate balance. It’s the difference between feeling disengaged at work and feeling as if you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s an important one to get right if you hope to fit in at a new workplace. SO important, in fact, that some people are sworn to protect it.
This people operate in the shadows. They stalk the night, apprehending the common scoundrel who doesn’t wash their coffee mug or gets back from their lunch break 10 minutes late. They’re called workplace vigilantes and they walk in our midst. They’re the heroes company culture deserves, but not the ones it need right now.
Vigilantes are blowing up your company’s culture
A workplace vigilante (see also: Office Batman, Desk Deadpool, WeWork Wonder Woman) is a nuisance at best, a toxic employee at worst. After a while, the constant nagging, confronting and informing of minor office infractions can create a hostile work environment. Much like Henry Cavill’s Superman left an unforgivable path of destruction behind him, vigilantes are a menace.
And you’re way more likely to run into one than you are to run into Captain America. A team of researchers in Canada interviewed 2,000 US workers, asking whether they had come across colleagues who were willing to report or confront them for moral or company policy violations. Nearly 60% people surveyed had experienced at least one such person, with average being as many as 4. 18% said they still worked with one.
The effects are pretty harsh too. The survey confirmed an increased amount of stress and frustration around vigilantes, with people aiming to avoid them as much as possible. In serious cases, the vigilantes’ targets were reprimanded, fired, or quit their jobs under pressure of scrutiny.
What to do in case of an office Batman
Don’t worry or complain about it too much, though. You might be able to do what the Joker could never do and actually beat the Batman.
Just remember, freezing up around a suspect colleague contributes just as much to a hostile environment as the behaviour that caused it initially. At the same time, you don’t want drag down your own reputation by calling out the caller-outer.
The key here, as with any office dispute is a mix of directness, resilience and tact. Do not be afraid to shatter the illusion of collaboration in your office. Employees are going to disagree. That’s a reality of life in the workplace. But be fair – they probably don’t even realise what they’re doing is a problem. Provide possible solutions and try to work with them. Because it’s not just up to the heroes to save the workplace, it’s up to all of us. After all, with great company culture comes great responsibility.