Bad Behavior and Organizational Culture: A Follow-up

When I posted the earlier post, it generated a lot of discussion on my personal Facebook page. One of the comments posted included the following: “I’m still left wondering why they tolerated such behavior to the degree they had.”

I feel a need to share my answers because I think it elaborates not only on the situation, but on the quote in the initial article:

Some people have a hard time enforcing rules because they don’t want to upset an individual, they’re too passive and accepting … of any behavior. In the case of RainFurrest, I think it came down to the fact that the leadership created a culture of absolute tolerance. They knew that their kind was already considered really odd and freakish by the rest of society, even other nerdy and geeky aspects of society, and wanted to create a con that was accepting of all.

The part of that which they forgot is that not everything should be considered acceptable or be swept under the carpet, no matter how out of the ballpark a fan group is. It’s also a lesson for attendees that just one rotten apple, or a few, can indeed ruin something for the whole group. The fact that RainFurrest didn’t heed the warning flags in earlier years is what culminated in this massive mess and the demise of that con.

I followed it up a short while later with this additional thought and remark:

I had a follow up thought to my initial reply post, in particular this portion: “They knew that their kind was already considered really odd and freakish by the rest of society, even other nerdy and geeky aspects of society, and wanted to create a con that was accepting of all.”

Those groups, organizations, games, etc. who are fringe groups have an even greater reason to make sure that people follow the established code of conduct or face the outlined penalties. Society at large already gives such people and groups sideways glances and raised eyebrows because they’re already considered odd or freaks and who knows what those freakish folks will do next.

Bad behavior such as was exhibited at RainFurrest just adds to the stereotype (and people can and do stereotype because humans like to categorize people and things) of not only being odd or freakish, but also lacking restraint and dare I say civility. Not quite the tags I would think people of such a group would want to have stuck on them, however that’s what happens when the rotten apples in the barrel are allowed to determine the quality of the whole barrel since it’s the rotten apples that get seen (and heard and noticed and then talked about) the most prominently. And, as RainFurrest has learned, all it takes are some bad apples to ruin it for everyone.

For the love of all that is good, please take a lesson away from RainFurrest!!!!

Convention organizers, group, game and organization heads, please:

  1. Have an established code of conduct if you are doing anything remotely public facing.
  2. Understand that those participating in what ever game or event that the code of conduct is tied to have agreed to follow it, when they don’t they have broken that social contract and that needs to be properly handled.
  3. Uphold and enforce that code of conduct, as a code of conduct does no good unless it’s actually enforced when its broken.
  4. Make sure your staff are ready and able, and the lower people on the staff totem pole have the full support of the upper staff members, in enforcing that code of conduct.

Attendees, players, and members there are some lessons for you, too:

  1. If there is a code of conduct, and you opt to participate, follow it. By participating you’re agreeing to the standards set in that group, organization, game, or convention’s code of conduct.
  2. Don’t tolerate others abusing it without notifying those in charge, and if one staff member won’t do anything then find another and let them know about all the issues (the initial code of conduct breach and the lack of care from the other staff member). If needed do that all the way up the chain of command until you find someone who will take your complaint seriously.
  3. Remember that all it takes is one bad apple to give a particular game, event, organization, or group a bad reputation and then potentially ruin it for everyone.
  4. If you opt to break the Code of Conduct then you also agree to face the penalties outlined in such, up to and including removal and revocation from the game, event, convention, etc. Sucks, yes, but actions have consequences, and not all consequences are going to be sugar, spice and everything nice, particularly when you break the rules.
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