Inkwater Press, 2014
Although written from Hagerman’s experiences in the mental health field and intended by him to be applied therein, the methods of navigating workplace dynamics outlined can be applied in nearly every professional field. That said, there is definitely an adversarial feel to the work culture Hagerman presents to readers. It is almost as though the baseline assumption is everyone in a professional work environment is looking to defeat their subordinates, peers, and superiors.
It certainly feels as though the majority of the conflicts Hagerman astutely identifies and critiques with moxie are a priori those of a toxic workplace. What we are presented with is a superb summation in plain language of scholarly work done in organizational development making Love Your Enemies in Case Your Friends Turn Out to be Bastards a rather solid resource for righting the ship. Group dynamics can be treacherous and emotional minefields can ruin the good work of individuals and having Hagerman’s book handy mitigates this. Love Your Enemies in Case Your Friends Turn Out to be Bastards can serve as a valuable resource for both new and long-time employees because it offers concrete techniques for dealing not just with the overall atmosphere in the workplace but specific types of persons.
Hagerman has written a book of two halves, to borrow a phrase from the world of sports reporting. The first section is a collection of personal anecdotes from his several decades of work experience. These vignettes are meant to be humorous as well as illustrative of the kinds of toxic work associates out there. All of these vignettes are pristine examples of toxic employees or bosses, what he will eventually term “organizational manipulators,” who “exploit others in the workforce using cunning guile, and ruthless conduct to perpetuate unresolved needs.” As a mental health professional, Hagerman identifies the root of many of these unresolved needs but the strongest portions of his book deal with how to neutralize organizational manipulators.
Yet, Hagerman’s tone and style in this section could be quite off-putting for a good portion of readers. Hagerman, who self-describes as “a ‘folksy’ writer,” possesses a tone falling somewhere between the characters Falstaff and The Office‘s Michael Scott. Extremely liberal use of exclamation marks, all caps, and air quotes tend to undermine his several genuinely insightful moments. So, given the rather gossipy nature of the first section, I would encourage readers to begin with section two.
The second section is a treasure trove of diagnostics, methods, and techniques to aid employees and superiors to overcome organizational manipulators. In this section, Hagerman breaks down how to address the most frequent kind of organizational manipulator, the adult children of alcoholics. ACOAS, as he refers to them, are perhaps the largest segment of the Baby Boomer generation, a demographic still dominating the workforce despite there being three generations of workers now having come after them. Combining Hagerman’s analysis of ACOAS with his breakdown of the matrix system of management, we are provided with a template to negotiate the direst of workplace environs.
Love Your Enemies in Case Your Friends Turn Out to be Bastards is a valuable book combining scholarly insight and memoir in such a way to be a substantial resource for professionals. Those new to the workforce coming out of college, those in the middle of their careers looking to make a change, and veteran business professionals will find Hagerman’s book an easy read with pragmatic solutions.
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