Operations manager rules by intimidation

Question:

Our CEO just hired a new operations manager. To call her 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 she 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.”

Her actions humiliate my co-workers and embarrass me and others who have to watch it. None of us like it, but everyone else is too cowed to say anything. She 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 this woman’s Kool-Aid, and I’m scared about what might happen if she retaliates. I need my income and don’t want to get fired before I find a new job.

Answer: 

Effective leaders and managers praise in public and discipline in private. What you describe appears to be a strategy for asserting dominance. Further, you’re right 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. You can also document the worst instances you see by recording what you hear on your smartphone and playing them for your CEO if you think it will inspire him to fix what’s going on. Even if he likes bluntness, he should be able to recognize humiliation as toxic. Alternatively, you can leave him a copy of this article on his desk.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

 

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