Great article for some of you in corporations: “Organisational Sociopaths: Rarely Challenged, Often Promoted. Why?” Richard J. Pech and Brett W. Slade, both of the Faculty of Law and Management at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, have keenly analyzed some of the factors for corporate blindness in promoting sociopaths. Here’s an example from the article:
Rewarding and reinforcement of the wrong behaviours occurred at Metropolitan Life, the second largest insurance firm in the USA in the 1990s. In 1993, it was alleged that MetLife agents swindled US$11 million from gullible people who believed that they were purchasing retirement plans. What they thought were savings deposits towards their retirement were actually insurance premiums for insurance disguised as a new type of investment plan. Much of the blame fell on Rick Urso, the Tampa branch manager for MetLife. There were plenty of indicators that Urso’s branch was an anomaly. Its budget for mailing brochures was ten times that of any other MetLife offices and from 1989 to 1993 Urso’s commission-based salary rose from US$270,000 to over US$1 million (Lohse, 1999; Hartley, 2005). Rather than investigating this performance anomaly, MetLife’s response was to award Urso with the Sales Office of the Year Award for two years running, to invite him as a motivational guest speaker at MetLife conferences, and to reward him by promoting him to the position of third highest-paid employee. The organisation was unwilling to see the warning signs and reinforced Urso’s behaviour through rewards and public recognition, creating a culture that encouraged replication of dubious sales techniques, costing MetLife over US$1.7 billion in lawsuit payments in 1999.
Ouch. Surprisingly good reports should be a cause for some skepticism before we pour out the praise.
Hmmm, I wonder if we could get similar problems when it comes to LDS metrics like home teaching stats? Sometimes I worry that praising units with high stats may encourage other units to adopt the same practices. If the great stats come from great efforts to minister to the Saints, that’s wonderful. But in one ward I was in, I once heard a cumulative report for one month’s home teaching that was higher than possible just based on the two or three people I missed that month, and the fact that we weren’t home taught either.
Leaders should not take stats too seriously, but should take pains to understand what is happening in the ward to ensure that the fellowship of the Saints really does include abundant fellowshipping and ministry.
While stats are always a problem, I am grateful that the Church leaders I’ve had in my life have generally been real Christians and not sociopaths trying to work their way up in the Church. Personal character seems to be much more important in the Gospel – thank goodness! – than it is in corporations, though my corporate experiences have also been generally positive as well. But sociopaths, like bad stats, can be found in all arenas. Don’t be shocked that they exist.