Our CEO just hired a new operations manager.
To call “Paula” blunt is to sugar-coat what she does. She walks through the office dishing out insults “so that everyone knows what’s correct procedure and what isn’t.” This morning Paula stood over one of my co-workers and loudly proclaimed that “Jane” was doing a procedure exactly wrong and apparently had forgotten the guidelines laid down the prior week. She brags that this is “transparency.”
Paula’s actions humiliate my co-workers and embarrass me and others who watch it. None of us like it, but everyone else is too cowed to say anything. Paula suggests the rest of us announce each other’s mistakes too, so that we can all “learn.” Three of us are job searching.
I’d like to tell our CEO what’s going on, but he seems to like the flavor of her Kool-Aid, and I’m scared about what might happen if Paula retaliates. I need my job. I and don’t want to get fired before I find a new job.
Effective leaders and managers praise in public and discipline in private. What you describe appears to be a strategy for asserting dominance.
You’re right, however, to be cautious. When you take on an intimidator, they often attack back.
While it’s not fair, your best strategy may be to find a new job. If you stay, you’ll either want to confront Paula or you’ll feel sick to your stomach that you’re letting treat you and others with toxic humiliation.
In the meantime, document the worst instances you see by recording what you hear on your smartphone. You can then play them for your CEO either while you remain working in this company or after you leave.
If he hears for himself, the recording might inspire him to fix what’s going on. Even if he values straight-talk, what you describe goes beyond bluntness to attack therapy.
Alternatively, you can leave a copy of this article on his desk after you secure a new job.
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