Chief People Officer Kevin Kennemer serves up a compelling blog entry about a recent televised social experiment in France where participants in a fake game show were ordered to administer electric shocks to those giving wrong answers. (It’s a remake of sorts of the famous 1960s Milgram experiment which tested obedience to authority.)
The results are stunning and disturbing. Kevin then relates the gruesome truth to psychological torture in the workplace.
Questions to ask
Kevin concludes by suggesting that we ask these questions about our own workplaces:
Does your company employ leaders and/or employees who lack that strong inner conscience to resist shocking behavior? Do you think your coworkers are capable of inhumane treatment? Do psychologically abused employees find themselves stranded and secluded from their coworkers? What do you do if you see an employee being psychologically abused by a supervisor?
Going too far?
Some might think it a stretch to relate these experiments, with their obvious connections to the “just following orders” justifications of the Nazis, to abusive behavior at work.
While certainly bullying and abuse at work cannot be equated with genocide, the underlying human instincts can be shockingly similar. Severe, malicious mistreatment at work often carries with it eliminationist tendencies — a desire to rub someone out of the workplace — even if they apply “only” to one’s career versus a life.
Check out Kevin’s post, including the YouTube video link.