The Criminal Management Style Of Law’s Worst Bosses

If there’s one thing State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman can’t stand, it’s bad bosses.

And, he’s sending a harsh message to any government contractor or company manager who decides to deceive his workers.

As of this summer, employers who knowingly violate state labor laws will not only face a hefty fine, they will also face criminal charges with possible jail time.

Think Schneiderman’s bluffing?

Just ask William Mazzella, a supervisor for Mahopac-based Decora Construction LLC, who was sentenced to four months in prison after admitting he illegally paid 39 of his workers less than half the wages required by state law.

And, the State Attorney isn’t finished.

The same firm’s co-owners, Francisco Tavares and Aurora Perreira, received five years of probation and were banned from government contracts for the same period of time.

Legal ramifications of labor law abuse also include fines, and this case was no exception.

The owners were hit hard with a $800,000 fee, which paid restitution to those workers who were cheated out of wages during two different projects.

“Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it in official documents is not a mistake or paperwork problem,” said Schneiderman, reports Juan Gonzalez for the New York Daily News in the article “Breaking bad bosses.”

“It is criminal behavior.”

Law firms represent labor law cases, but that doesn’t mean a firm’s own organization is exempt. In fact, yesterday, we discussed three of the worst types of corporate culture in law, including people who cheat, lie, or steal ideas from colleagues.

Today, we’re looking at the three worst management styles in law. And, yes—you’ve guessed it—at times, a boss’s behavior borders on criminal.

The Harvard Business Review calls it, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Management.” But here, we’re going to warn law firm managers about three simple ways to land yourself—not just in hail or high water—but (at least for the State of New York) in jail.

1. Greed

“A greedy boss pursues wealth, status, and growth to get himself noticed. In short, he is an empire builder, and we don’t have to look far to find examples of empire-building bosses,” explains the HBR Blog.

Although stealing doesn’t have to always accompany greed, one typically follows the other. Greedy bosses, by nature, only care for themselves.Yet, law firms—or any corporation for that matter—depend highly on collaboration and teamwork.

To prove this, let’s take a look at bad bosses from recent history.

Dennis Kozlowski wanted to turn Tyco into a household brand name that would make its stockholders rich. Soon, Kozlowski landed on the cover of Business Week as one of the country’s highest paid CEOs… and then landed in jail after a suspicious buying spree ($4 million for a Monet painting. $2 million for a birthday party, and the infamous $6000 shower curtain).

Authorities accused Kozlowski of looting the company that made him loaded.

It seems greedy bosses are more often imprisoned than prized by their stakeholders, employees, and public.

2. Pride

“Healthy pridequickly tips over into hubris—an overestimation of your own abilities. In all the recent corporate crises—News International, Nokia, BP, even Toyota—there was tangible evidence of hubris in the manner and words of the executives at the top,” states the HBR Blog.

And, in the not so recent news, the HBR points us to the simple example of Enron, where the “smartest guys in the room” were soon the “smartest guys” behind bars.

Need we say more? Managers should keep their pride in check—there’s a fine line between leadership confidence and arrogant blindness.

3. Sloth

Finally, “Slothis workplace apathy—the managers who fall prey to sloth are simply not doing their job. They are inattentive, they don’t communicate effectively, and they have no interest in their team’s needs,” writes the HBR Blog.

When bosses fall prey to a slothful management style, their work is inconsistent. Random quality checks or performance reviews are a sign that a manager has become a bit lazy.

“The boss who takes long lunch-breaks but is ‘too busy’ to sit down with us; the colleague who doesn’t deliver on his part of a proposal; the executive who promises to get back to you on something but never does,” lists the HBR Blog.

But, whether it’s for fear of greed, pride, or sloth, the best way to track manager performance is through constant and vigilant review.

To avoid the negative ramifications of employing bad bosses, enforce a monthly meeting among leadership teams. Collect feedback from associates and other managers.

Provide a “pros” and “cons” list to each individual in a position of power that analyzes their management style and ongoing improvement. If you don’t, the consequences will certainly be catastrophic, if not criminal.

-WB

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