News at Smith

Smith School Author Tackles Workplace Sabotage

Oct 02, 2015

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SMITH BRAIN TRUST -- How would trained saboteurs, successfully planted on your team by ruthless competitors, proceed to undermine your productivity? If they followed a previously classified World War II field guide used by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of today's CIA, they would follow eight rules to sap your momentum.

Robert Galford, co-author of Simple Sabotage (HarperOne, September 2015) and facilitator of an executive education course from the Office of Executive Programs at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, says many people with good intentions do the same things. “They don’t mean to, but they end up sabotaging the productivity and energy in their offices,” Galford says. “By sticking to outmoded protocols, endlessly revisiting management decisions, and meeting, meeting, meeting, they kill innovation, enthusiasm and progress.”

The key is to focus on process more than action, while doing your best to look prudent and analytical. Here is how:

1. Insist on doing everything through channels.

2. Make long speeches and talk as frequently as possible.

3. Refer all matters to committees for further study.

4. Bring up irrelevant issues.

5. Haggle over the precise wording of communications.

6. Rehash matters already decided upon.

7. Warn against hasty decisions that might result in embarrassment.

8. Raise concerns about the propriety of any decision.

Galford, who also has authored “The Trusted Leader” and “The Trusted Advisor,” provides practical tips for countering the sabotage behavior. When surveying team members or soliciting feedback, for example, invite them to rewrite one rule or process that they find especially cumbersome. Another idea is to review orientation materials for new employees, making sure the information is up-to-date, streamlined and relevant. Learn more by watching this video.

“Rob’s new book is yet another useful tool we can share with executives who want to be best in class,” says Gary Cohen, associate dean of executive programs at Smith.

He says Galford is just one of the thought leaders who teach in Smith’s custom executive education programs for leaders and managers from a wide range of government agencies and global corporations. “The Smith School is proud to convene the very best talent in organizational development,” Cohen says. “Smith faculty have a practical, no-nonsense approach to helping people and organizations reach their full potential.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.