Here’s what happened.
I was walking down the hallway when one of our senior managers, “John,” yelled, “Carrie, come in here right now.” I turned. John gestured for me to come with him into our copier room.
When I entered, I saw “Gail,” our easily intimidated administrative assistant. Gail looked like she wanted to be anywhere else.
“What’s up?” I asked, moving toward her. John, 6 foot, 2 inches in height, slammed the door behind him and stood in front of the room’s only exit. He advanced toward me, shook his finger at me and said, “I do not invite you to this meeting.”
“You just asked me in here.”
“This meeting,” John said, shoving a memo referencing an interdepartmental function at me.
“Oh, you’re mistaken,” I told him.
“I’m not mistaken, you’re mistaken if you think you can horn yourself into my meeting.”
“Oh, I see the confusion. I had no intention of attending this meeting. I asked Gail to cc: me on the Outlook message so I can advise catering of the need for coffee and donuts.” By now, Gail was sobbing.
John glowered at me, shook his fist at her, and said, “Don’t f— up again.”
After he stomped out of the room, I consoled the administrative assistant. Then, I let my manager know exactly what happened.
The next day I followed up with my manager. She scolded me and said, “John said you blew things out of proportion.”
Did I? John cornered two women in a room. I’d like to go to HR. This is only one incident in a series of issues where John throws his weight around—literally.
Or was what he did okay?
John did five things wrong. He jumped to a conclusion; cussed; yelled; and stood in front of a small room’s only exit while he dressed down two individuals.
When you let him know he’d leaped to an erroneous conclusion, he threatened the administrative assistant rather than apologize.
This type of boorish behavior ruins the work environment. If your manager lets John’s “blew it out of proportion” excuse serve as the last word, she compounds his mistakes.
What should your manager have done instead?
She should have let him know he needs to rein in this type of behavior, because even if it’s mis-interpreted, it leads to morale problems, may lead employees to resign and put him and your company at risk.
You can show hand your manager this column. Alternatively, you can visit HR and describe the scene to a professional more likely to look into it.
Here’s the good news. John isn’t a very good intimidator—he didn’t scare you.
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