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Cynicism lurks in every culture.

Cynicism generally occurs in the following pattern: 1) I think a person or organization does not have my best interests in mind; 2) I believe the person or organization does not have my best interests in mind and 3) I take overt action because I know that the person or organization doesn’t have my best interest in mind.

Cynicism in the employment relationship leads to negative behaviors by and between employees, teams, and the organization.

A quick example: In the promotion context, employees are observing whether the process is fair and consistent. Organizations without fair and consistent promotion practices are inviting cynicism.

As a leader, what is your responsibility regarding safeguarding your organization from cynicism?

Unfortunately, the behavior I’ve observed is leaders become defensive and dismissive of this people problem by disqualifying the cynic. In these instances what is the natural result? Yes, you got it . . . more cynicism and employees taking overt action. Overt actions include – bad mouthing the organization to customers, co-workers, friends and relatives, reduced engagement, lower work product and termination of the employment relationship. Otherwise known as: Cynicism Taxes.

How should an organization address cynicism?

First, identification that cynicism is a natural phenomenon. Second, gather general examples of where cynicism occurs and specific examples from your environment. Third, discuss examples and create action steps to address challenges. Lastly, communicating with stakeholders about the challenges posed and how the organization is taking necessary action.

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