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Corporate tough love for miscreant 'five per centers'

By Chris Hutching

Friday 28th February 2003

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An Auckland-based human resources company is offering workshops in "corporate tough love" aimed at helping managers weed out the 5% of troublesome and bullying staff who disrupt and demotivate others in the workforce.

Suzanne Couper of Snakes & Ladders Group said the workshops helped give supervisors courage to confront these people and act decisively. "Saying nothing" resulted in a silence that condoned the behaviours, resulting in anger, stress, resentment and frustration among the 95% of other staff who performed positively and contributed to organisational success, she said.

Understanding how the "five per centers get it over us" and undermine confidence to act is critical to end this type of bullying, according to Snakes and Ladders. The workshops explore negative attitudes that often manifest in "five per centers using emotional blackmail and manipulation to catch people offguard and silence others, giving a mixed message as to what is acceptable and what is not."

Ms Couper said businesses needed to be more proactive because labour costs were a big proportion of business costs. The workshops showed how to how to "recognise and deal decisively with the moody, difficult and disruptive people we call the five per centers and then how to set up agreements and boundaries that will break the cycle of abusive and unacceptable behaviour while avoiding legal repercussions for employers."

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