Tweeting may get you fired from your job (see yesterday’s post) but apparently swearing gets you promoted. This is in fact the first thing that came to my mind after reading the bnet article on Swearing and How It’s Good For Your Team.
According to the study conducted by Professor Yehuda Baruch and Stuart Jenkins, swearing aids in leadership communication and boosts team spirit. Didn’t President Obama once say on the David Letterman Show, (he needed) “to determine whose ass to kick,” when referring to the BP executives after the oil spill?
And if President Obama’s doing it, is it acceptable for everyone else? Late night television is not exactly like the corporate boardroom at the bank or company you work is it?
The above mentioned study which involved an undercover operation by Jenkins where he observed workers in a British mailhouse using profanity, and even tested the efforts and actions out for himself.
A long time ago in a bright orange big box retailer far, far away I myself had a boss. In fact, I had recently been transfered as HR Manager of a store. I learned of my transfer the Sunday before I retuned from a much needed vacation. The new HR Manager, called me to let me know that my personal effects from my office at the old location were in a box, and would I like to pick them up?
“Yes, I would like to pick them up thank you? And what store am I being transferred to?” I asked.
My transfer lent me to a very rough and rowdy store where the profanity was free throwing. It was a very urban neighborhood and for the first time as an HR professional, I was the minority.
The store manager there had a reputation. He was known for making demands and being unreasonable. He was a jackass and wasn’t the type who tried to hide it. And later that Sunday afternoon, I made a trip to my new store paying a visit to my new boss who I dotted line reported too. (HR folks you know what I’m talking about).
I walked up to the boss, and said the following, “I heard I’m being transfered to your store. You have a reputation. I will not put up with your bullshit. Let me do your job and I’ll do it well. Don’t f*ck with me.”
Yes, the f word and the b-poop word were used. I looked him straight in the eye. Didn’t back down. See what I didn’t know is that he had requested me specifically to transfer to his store. I later learned this so the profanity may have not been necessary. But even still, I worked with that manager for nearly 6 months all while we were involved in a multi-tiered class action lawsuit. For those of you that are Home Depot HR Alumni, yes, I was THAT store in the heart of Kansas City.
So maybe profanity at work might make you a better leader, but I really believe there is a time and a place. The words gave me confidence and a sense of power to make a point and take a stand. And for those of you that work in primarily blue collar industries, the place maybe be 15 times a day. I can’t imagine throwing down the f bomb in a New York City law firm or even the buttoned up insurance and investment corporation.
What do you think? Does swearing at work motivate your staff, increase employee engagement level, or is it just inappropriate altogether?
Photo Credit Cookerly PR.