ITB 2023 Special Reporting
Do you have Psychopath in YOUR Business?
By Philip Lye
Saturday, 10th November 2007
The incidences of psychopathic behaviour in Australia and around the world have substantially increased in the last 10 years. It is reliably estimated that 10% of managers or co-workers in Australia alone, exhibit and engage in psychopathic behaviour of some type. Psychopathic incidences are rising rapidly in the workplace where pressure is common place in order to survive.

1. What is a Workplace Psychopath?

They look and dress the same way as most businessmen they may even use the same language. Some of these people are fairly persuasive, they can manipulate, they're very charming, some of them even charismatic. And a lot of people, they like them, they think they're kind of fun to be around, but it takes a long time before you can figure out that something is really amiss here. (Professor Robert Hare).

Insincere, arrogant, untrustworthy, manipulative, insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, remorseless, shallow, meaning the person seems not to have feelings, is incapable of experiencing or understanding the feelings of others.

Tends to blame others for things that go wrong, has low frustration tolerance and is therefore impatient with things.

Erratic, unreliable, unfocused, and is selfish, parasitic, they take advantage of the goodwill of people they work with as well as the company itself. (Dr. Paul Babiak).

2. Psychopathic impacts on your business

  • Increased friction and general unrest at your business,
  • Increased absenteeism,
  • Decreased productivity,
  • Decreased profits despite sales,
  • Excessive customer complaints,
  • Increased ‘grapevine' and rumour mill traffic,
  • People regularly resigning from their positions,
  • Low levels of trust,
  • Higher employee turnover than is normal for your industry,
  • Cash Flow issues, insolvency and in some cases bankruptcy,
  • Stress and relationship issues (workplace and private),

3. Psychopathic impacts on your Employees

Victims of a psychopath can suffer;

  • Insomnia,
  • Anxiety and stress,
  • Social withdrawal,
  • Nervous Breakdowns,
  • Weight gain or loss,
  • Family and social conflict,
  • Loss of self esteem and in extreme instances suicide,
  • Psychopathic behavior comes under occupational health & safety and the employer has a legal obligation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all persons attending the workplace.
4. Possible Psychopathic Indicators

  • Does your boss or workmate come across as smooth, polished and charming?
  • Do they turn most conversations around to a discussion about them?
  • Do they discredit or put others down in order to build up their own image and reputation?
  • Can they lie with a straight face to their co-workers, customers, or business associates?
  • Do they consider people they've outsmarted or manipulated as dumb and stupid?
  • Are they opportunistic, ruthless and hating to lose and playing to win?
  • Do they come across as cold and calculating?
  • Do they sometimes act in an unethical or dishonest manner?
  • Have they created a power network in the organisation, then used it for personal gain or against you the employer?
  • Do they show no regret for making decisions that negatively affect the company, shareholders, or employees?
5. Possible Psychopathic Indicators

  • Investigate Carefully!
  • Speak to workers and managers that have worked with the suspected person and get their opinions.
  • Realise that many psychopaths work on the premise that their behaviours and conduct go unnoticed. This is their Achilles' heel.
  • Have other trusted employees keep and eye open on the person and pass on examples of inappropriate behaviour to you.
  • Keep thorough documentation.
  • Ensure your workplace health and safety systems are working and in place.
  • Ensure your employees are aware of your grievance procedures and act swiftly if you receive a complaint. Complaints need not be written.
  • Take professional advice – Biz Momentum can assist you. You must ensure you comply with many regulations and a myriad of legislation so as not to be caught up in the litigation trap.
6. Dealing with a Psychopath

  • Act by calling a meeting with the person,
  • Say to the person ‘Something is not right here and it is affecting our business. I need to get to the bottom of it and have some concerns about the negative behaviours and comments that you seem to be displaying'.
  • You must confront the person with cast iron proof, giving examples of actions and behaviours you are concerned with,
  • Allow the person to put their side of the story to you and consider what they say.
  • Decide what to do on your evidence and the person's response,
If you decide to terminate employment, terminate the employment relationship after taking advice as there are pitfalls you need to ensure you are covered against which overlooked may provide legal/industrial redress against your business,
Ensure you have all the facts well documented and take advice before you proceed with your decision. An ounce of prevention is preferable to a ton of cure. 

Further Information
Philip Lye is Director of Biz Momentum Pty Ltd. He works with small to medium businesses to help them cut through the maze of people matters. Clients get specific actionable strategies to protect their business interests. For more information on Philip, visit www.biz-momentum.com

Biz Momentum have assisted many businesses successfully resolve or remove employees who have caused havoc in the workplace through psychopathic behaviour and are able to assist your business receive positive outcomes. We are experts in this area and have many clients who can attest to this fact! Dealing with difficult people requires lots of experience and finely honed skills.

We provide on-site, telephone or email support and can assist you wherever you are located around the world.
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