CAD-Room Bullying

We hear a lot about bullying these days - whether it is kids in the classroom or on the school bus, overly aggressive toddlers who bite, or maybe even a dog at the dog park.  Bullying is a popular discussion topic for those raising families, controlling a classroom, working in teams, or just trying to understand modern society in general.

There can also be workplace and “CAD-room” bullying with fallout and frustrations that impact your productivity and limit your effectiveness.  What kind of effect does it have on the workplace and how does a CAD Manager work in an environment that may be infected by this issue?

A research effort by the Chartered Management Institute in the UK, first published in November 2008, found some profound issues impacting the workplace.

First, let’s look at their definition of bullying:

Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or abuse or misuse of power, which violates the dignity of, or creates a hostile environment which undermines, humiliates, denigrates or injures the recipient.

  • The most common type of bullying involved the misuse of power, something that seven out of 10 said they had seen or experienced at work.
  • Almost as common are other power plays, including overbearing supervision (cited by 63 percent) and being undermined by work overload and criticism (68 percent).
  • Almost half of those questioned (47 percent) said they knew of career incidents such as individuals being denied opportunities for promotion or training.  A similar proportion (43 percent) suggested they had seen threats made about job security.
  • Seven out of 10 said that they had heard verbal insults aimed at specific individuals and just over half (53 percent) identified the spreading of malicious rumors as another key tactic used by bullies.

Are you a bully?  Have you been bullied by others?

Some of the areas that I have seen that relate to a CAD environment can be categorized as follows:

Information Bully – someone who either hoards information or distributes bad information.  This could be a user who knows the answer to a problem, but does not want to share it.  It could also be a user who gives out wrong information just to mess with someone’s workflow.

Hardware Hoarder – someone who collects and selfishly refuses to share the best hardware (or software) available at the firm.  Hardware Hoarders don't “own” this stuff, but they sure act like it! They refuse to allow someone to use the shared resources of the firm or, if they allow it, they attach rules and stipulations and demand to know when it will be returned. 

Plotter Squatter – someone who controls the plotter by loading it up with so many plots that others cannot get their work out.  These people put signs on the plotter stating that they will be the only one who can use it for a given time period (and they always take longer).   They may not respect plots that come out during their run time and may actually throw them away or complain heavily when others interrupt their workflow.

Standard Slammer – someone who does not follow the standard and encourages others to violate it. Standard Slammers are outspoken and call the standard “bad names.” They appear to purposely violate the standard and they really don’t care what the standard says.  They sneer at meetings, loath at lunch, and grumble at guidelines.  They also blame the standard and the requirements of following it as the reason they missed their deadlines.

Muscling Manager – someone who oversees a project or process that “demands” things be done his or her way. These managers throw around their title and stature and act like they have the corner on the market for getting things done.  They may push other projects “out of line” and move their processes to the front (see Plotter Squatter).  If you don’t allow their CAD team to work apart from the guidelines, they act as if you have killed their productivity.  They always seem to have an excuse as to why they can violate office policy.

Don't be quick to dismiss bullying in the CAD room. Perhaps you think that you are immune to the influences that drive people to push a little too hard on others. Not so fast…

One result of the research that was done by Chartered Management Institute was the following:

11 percent of managers admit that they have behaved in ways that may have been viewed as bullying. The figure in 2005 was similar, at 12 percent.

So one out of ten of you reading this may actually be bullying others.  Interesting.  It is not just "others" who have contributed to a difficult workplace.  Could it be you?

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