The economy is in deceleration and jobs are scarce. People try hard and use all the personal influences to get a job. There is a survival trait among all of us, however, this survival trait if acquired by an incompetent person is likely to lead to the toxicity in an organization. The survival trait per se is not negative if the person uses it to upgrade and meet the expectations of the organization will not only add in the productivity of organization but will also help in individual development. If the survival trait is combined with insecurity perception creates a lot of conflicts and unethical behaviour among the employees. Hence to sustain themselves these employees use a battery of techniques. 

One such technique is writing letters against peers, superiors, and organizations irrespective of departments and duties. This kind of behaviour is destruction in the working environment and loss of productivity. One question is why it is so pronounced in India? It is one of the traits developed from the colonial past. The colonial bosses who have no proper feedback mechanism relied on this form of feedback.

It is natural to have grievances as the resources are limited and individual demands are increasing, moreover, the non acceptance of people from diverse cultural backgrounds and behaviors also leads to insecurity.  This leads to a lack of trust and formation of mutually destructive groups. 

When people work together grievances are expected but to settle the grievance every organization has its respective managers or HR process. Employees can talk or formally complain instead of writing and hurting the dignity of others. The grievances should either pertain to the performance, work environment or compensation. When the grievance is pointing to a person or vilification of the person from another department/ area it is not a grievance but settling of personal petty issues, afraid of not being heard. Less workload or inability to work for their role could also be one of the reasons for such behaviour.

This also indicates that the employee is concerned about her/his insecurity rather than organizational goal. If these letters are given cognition by organization, there will be an incentive to write more letters and divert the superior from addressing the goals.

How to organization should address these issues? 
This can be addressed by having a strong feedback mechanism.

  1. There should be a trust in the organization such that genuine professional respect and collegiality should prevail.
  2. Managers should be trained to address the departmental issues as and when they arise 
  3. The anonymous letters should be replied with a message that this will not be entertained,at the same time it will be treated as unethical behaviour of the employees.
  4. Professional ethics shall be inculcated in the employees.
  5. Proper design of workload suitable to the persons competent level should be given

Sometimes these letters may not be by their own volition and may be instigated by another person to settle their egos. Superiors should ignore such mutually destructive behaviours and infuse teamwork and belongingness for the betterment of organization as well as employees.

Dr. Nikhat Hamza
Director HR & FTA (BS Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology)


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