Australians love sarcasm . . . but it should never raise its ugly head in the workplace. It rapidly undermines trust between individuals and creates a culture of passive-aggressive communicative habits.
For the deliverer - it offers short-term positive impact in the form of a quick ego boost achieved through undermining colleagues. For the receiver, it sends a clear message: "I'm not willing to confront issues, I'm happy just to make snide comments and, if confronted, hide behind the cliche 'it was just a joke'." For the team, it begs the question "If he says this about them, what is he saying about me?" Like a slowly rotting cancer, it destroys workplace relationships and reduces productivity as motivation and morale is slowly eaten away. The ability of your team to collaborate deteriorates as they all wait to be the target of the next smartly-worded 'laugh-fest'.
Be careful watching from the sidelines, onlookers can easily be drawn in as a power play when the deliverer calls on support with his outraged cry "I was just joking! Can't you take a joke?". Sarcasm is simply another form of weak leadership - or lack of leadership. . . it reveals much more about the communicator than the person he / she targets.
If you are wanting a culture of self-management and mutual accountability it starts from the top. Show your team-members that issues will be tackled respectfully and timely and you will quickly reap the benefits of a workplace with minimal issues.
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- the Team at Shiift