They think, "It's none of my business."
They fear getting hurt or becoming another victim.
They feel powerless to stop the bully.
They don't like the victim or believe the victim "deserves" it.
They don't want to draw attention to themselves.
They fear retribution.
They think that telling adults won't help or it may make things worse.
They don't know what to do.
Bullying with children in an important and complex topic that merits our attention, but not here. I started thinking about the role of BYSTANDER in leadership and project management. Most, if not all, organizational dysfunctions including poor leadership, ineffective project management, lousy sponsorship, and my personal favorite, lying about project status, risk or business return share one thing in common: someone knows about each one. There are bystanders who are there, aware that something very bad is happening at this company, but afraid to intervene, just like the kids above. I'm guessing they do nothing for the same reasons as well.
Many of you have played the project management simulation Rocket Game in our workshops (now available through HRDQ). In this simulation, teams compete to plan and implement the construction of a rocket with girders and nuts. There is a detailed blueprint for them to follow. In nearly all cases, a very subtle requirement of the rocket is overlooked, generating missed deadlines through difficult rework. In nearly all of those cases, at least one person saw the requirement but was afraid to say anything.
As the CEO of a business that I want to grow, I fear nothing more than someone having information that would help me with my business who is afraid to tell me. The CEO is not the only person needed to grow and sustain a business. As all our projects become virtual and more highly matrixed, there is no one else to tell the truth but the bystander. I'd like to hear what you think of your responsibility as a bystander at your business. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @nolecture.
If you'd like to learn more about accountability, whether Bystander, Project Management or Project Sponsor, learn more in my new book, Managing Projects, available through Pfeiffer NOW! Order a Signed Copy
Taken from the RMA May 2012 LearningFlash Newsletter