Loaf & Hip HopTragedy struck Oklahoma yesterday when tornadoes wiped a goodly portion of the area around their state capitol off the map. It’s a fact that Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in number of Federal disaster aid requests, behind only Texas and California. Just last month, disaster was declared there following severe snowstorms. Ironic— since two of its most prominent Senators— one of whom has been the loudest supporter of speedy Federal funding to aid victims of Oklahoma’s various past disasters— have repeatedly voted AGAINST sending disaster aid to other states (most recently, New Jersey Hurricane Sandy relief). Still, let’s hope the victims of this terrible disaster get the emergency funds they need as quickly and efficiently as possible, since after all— shit like this happens, which is a big part of WHY we have a Federal government in the first place. Let’s take care of our fellow Americans.

Such myopia abounds in the corporate world as well. One of the most self-defeating business practices is The Talent Gauntlet, where mid-level managers selfishly refuse to hire or promote anyone who exhibits skill or talent that might conceivably threaten their own position of authority in the future. It’s essentially the Survivor “immediately vote the strongest player off the island” Syndrome.

Some company owners and upper brass purposely turn a blind eye to these activities, considering such behavior to be a Darwinian self-policing system that forces naturally dominant employees to rise (like cream) to the top. But in order to be effective, any such system demands fair, honest, incredibly-selfless middle management. No company exists merely to serve the personal career strategies of its middle managers; it exists to perform its function as a business by maximizing the potential of every employee.

Managers who purposely roadblock anyone more talented than themselves are a lethal detriment to any company. It’s the responsibility of the owner or upper management to ensure that middle management acts in the best interests of the company— paranoid or tyrannical managers can completely poison a company division, wrecking morale and driving truly talented and skilled employees out the door.

Businesses must be vigilant, lest a group of selfish jerks take up residence atop the company payroll, selfishly defending it against all comers. That’s NOT “only the strong will survive”- it’s a parasitical infestation by industrial saboteurs.

Speaking of parasites: “drafting” derives from a bicycling term in which the bodies of other cyclists are used as a windblock to reduce ones own workload… i.e., “getting an easy ride at someone else’s expense.” In business, it’s when a lazy employee gets added to a project team, work group, or task collective (along with more studious workers), who then does little or no work. But the lazy employee still takes credit for the collective work of the team. This is the same type of douchebag who rushes in to help a group jointly lift a heavy burden… but once they’ve been seen “helping,” they exert zero effort, instead feigning work and only pretending to help.

Such selfish jerks usually believe themselves far too clever to be caught… but they eventually tip their hand and get fired for such shenanigans. Though that doesn’t make up for the extra work they’ve dumped atop others.

When the chips are down, there may be someone on your team eager to grab what they can for themselves, despite the bigger picture. Protect yourself.