Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Work Place Phenomenon

A Work Place Phenomenon

Currently there is a workplace phenomenon called Munchausen at Work that’s now attracting attention. Workers are making up stories about events that never happened to take credit for fixing them according to a story in the Washington Post by Phred Dvorak.

A night manager, for example, called the owner of a restaurant to report that she had handled an out of control customer by giving her a free meal. The owner subsequently reviewed the surveillance footage only to discover the manager had made up the incident to look good and was afraid to confront the employer about a raise.

Munchausen at Work is a type of illness that has been named after the Baron Munchhausen who lived during the 18 century and told may dramatic and untruthful stories to gain attention. Later a book was published called The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Raspe.

This type of behavior is considered by psychologists to be a form of Munchausen syndrome and now refers to a psychological disease where people make up history about an illness or create sicknesses in others to gain attention.

At the work place such stories about heroic deeds may be hard to detect and get rid of. Perpetrators may gain promotions or recognition. According to work place psychologists, this syndrome happens in many industries. For example, executives may withhold help or key information and then step in to save the day. Some executives don’t want to give up control. Instead they undermine their staff favorites and then suddenly appear to repair the damage to show how indispensible they are.

In another case, a woman celebrated fixing a problem that she had secretly created. The manager blamed computer glitches as the reason for a delay in depositing insurance checks only to discover that the manager had them squirreled away in her desk. Subsequently, she was fired.

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