How to Avoid The Bozo Explosion

By Scott C. GriffinPolitics sometimes plays a big role in decision making in the workplace. When hostilities become predatory, everyone is out to protect themselves, their position, and power regardless of the cost to the corporation. Which means, when predatory politics are in play, it is best to go into defensive mode.

Remember: The least gifted or qualified leaders are usually the most political. This mode of individual survival can permeate throughout the entire organization. When mediocre leaders or people in power hire candidates who are not as talented they do so because they have a need to feel superior to others. When an organization starts down this slippery slope, what happens is that this cascades down to the lower levels. This is also known as “The Bozo Explosion.”

So, how can you defend yourself against The Bozo Explosion? To start, keep good written records in the case for unfair treatment -- or maybe even convince your boss that he/she is mistaken in their recollection. By quoting your manager about what was said you can confront him/her about the given information. Do not be confrontational but rather gently question on your receiving the information correctly. You can always end the sentence with “Is that right?” As an example you could state “I want to confirm that you told me to do XYZ with ABC. Is that right?” This actively provides the manager the opportunity to clarify the information. This may be risky business if continued but can be considered a form of protection if you need to take up the matter with Human Resources or other higher authority.

Still this protective manner may not be enough to protect your assets. There may be other motives in play set by the predatory management that you may not be made aware. Again, to them it is just a game with your livelihood at risk. That doesn't mean that you have to stoop down to their level, but it also doesn't mean it would make it any easier if you did. Once the predator mentality has taken effect, there may be no way out of their targeted sights.

Sometimes the only way to deal with the injustice is finding another position with another organization. Given the current economic environment, this may be easier said than done. According to David Lieberman, Ph.D., when people have little invested emotionally, financially, or otherwise are most likely to jump ship. It may sometimes be better to cut your losses and find greener pastures rather than having someone else possibly holding you back and/or ruining your career in the long run.

It would be advisable to assess your skills and their application to the outside world. There are times where just having the knowledge or education is not enough to satisfy in securing another position. This is the point where one has to keep their motivation up with the added support from close friends and family until the situation is resolved.

Lastly, be aware if any company, organization, or department that appears to have a revolving door policy. A rotating door policy is not a good sign of stability and should be avoided at all costs. It is important that while interviewing for a new position to consider the interview process as a two-way street. If possible, briefly interview others to which you will be working with before accepting the position if offered. This may provide shed some insight about the interworking of the company, organization or department you may be joining.

In the end, an employee usually leaves due to the poor management first rather than the company or organization.

Take-away notes

  1. Always remember that worthy causes are usually met with the most resistance. The greater your accomplishments, skills, or talent, the greater opposition and discouragement others will throw in your path. Expect it but don’t become a victim of it!
  2. A healthy leader ego often asks “what needs to be done?” while an insecure leader’s ego asks “how do I avoid looking bad?” While these questions may not be openly asked, their actions will speak volumes.
  3. Research shows that employees’ opinion of an organization is largely based upon how they feel about their immediate supervisor. Treating people well and with the utmost respect needs to become an expected behavior at all levels.This should come with deep sincerity and consistency. If not, employees will sense otherwise and the game is over.
  4. Listen to your employees. Within every organization, there are creative and resourceful people. Frequently these people are close to the business and often think of ways to resolve problems – on their own time. When such employees are ignored often enough they then start holding back on their full potential. It is a crime that employees are not performing at their full potential or are held back. It is also a crime when they are considering leaving the company. It is a crime that needs to be solved!

The last thought is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt … “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Always keep this in mind if you are to run into a predatory management organization.

Scott has an MBA in Information Security from Keller Graduate School of Management and is currently employed within a local government agency. His professional experience ranges from Private Sector Corporate to Federal Government agencies. He can be found at