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Old 12-29-2009, 07:39 PM   #81
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Simply put, the problem with being candid is the non-trivial threat of retaliation.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:41 AM   #82
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Am I being hopelessly naive, what is wrong with telling HR the truth?
Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a little bit of courage to tell the truth. There are really no "innocent bystanders" in a toxic work environment where the entire workforce is affected by pollution created by management or other co-workers.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:54 AM   #83
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Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a little bit of courage to tell the truth. There are really no "innocent bystanders" in a toxic work environment where the entire workforce is affected by pollution created by management or other co-workers.
I disagree. At least in this situation, it requires individuals to take a lot of risk with little or no likelihood of reward. In some circles, this is known as a "sucker bet."
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:21 AM   #84
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I disagree. At least in this situation, it requires individuals to take a lot of risk with little or no likelihood of reward. In some circles, this is known as a "sucker bet."
I disagree with you here. I've been on many sides of this issue; as a lawyer on management's side, as a lawyer on the side of employees, as a mediator/counsellor navigating compromises between bickering and warring parties, and as an aggrieved employee. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of personal angst that comes with telling the truth -- and no one is suggesting that you cavalierly risk your entire livelihood and put your family at risk by telling the truth.

But it's not a "sucker's bet." First of all, and I only speak for myself, the "reward" is in setting the record straight about things; it's simply, in my view, doing the right thing. Moreover, the fact of the matter is that "retailation claims" are by far the easiest employment claims to make against an employer covered by fair employment or nondiscrimination rules. If I tell the truth about things and appropriately document my truth-telling and don't have any skeletons in my closet, I don't fear the potential retailiation; in fact, I almost welcome the retailiation, confident that if it did occur, all I have to prove is cause and effect, with the prospect of major compensatory and possibly punitive damages against my employer.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:37 AM   #85
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Hey Brewer – your instincts are right on – hopefully you followed them and chose plans A or C.

ChrisC – discretion is not a lack of courage. There are times when the best thing to do is shut up and duck, as pointed out above.

If Brewer were called in by senior execs I might think a different approach to be more appropriate. Senior mgmt is absent here – a clear sign they are not “looking for” anything, just “doing something”.

Workplace is for salary. If you want truth, fairness or morality you are better off in church or court...or just safe at home, and if you want courage join the armed forces.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:49 AM   #86
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I am here to do my job and collect a paycheck. I happen to believe in the organization's mission, so they get some extra effort and goodwill from me, but I am not here to take risk foolishly. And there are oh so many ways to retaliate that would never be actionable.

Got through it. Kept it focused on the inane and only slipped a bit when I was told that they were considering a half day group event (said I would be deeply uncomfortable with that). Interviewer also did not like the description I gave of my role: subordinate who does their job and salutes what gets run up the flagpole, and knows where the door is if I don't like it. Told them at least I did not refer to myself as a "headcount."
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:49 AM   #87
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Posted before you, Brewer, but congrats on surviving with delusions intact.

Though a fan of courage, I think Brewer knows the limitations of this particular meeting.
Not everyone wants to be a hero, nor should be. I have ducked and run myself rather than try to "fix" a hopeless work situation.
Unless you can go in there like Neutron Jack, there isn't much worth fighting them.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:17 AM   #88
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I struggled with this crap for years, as a manager, then senior manager, then executive while my workplace transformed steadily from high quality and very demanding (in a good way) to abusive, disrespectful and focused only on greed and fear. Kafka wasn’t kidding. As I am speaking in the past tense it is clear I was unable to survive it. My problem wasn’t the abuse I observed or even that which I received, it was the kind I caused as I became part and parcel. A decade later and it still causes me discomfort.

This is not the place for romantic ideals and Brewer is to be credited for his awareness and pragmatic approach. The “right” strategy is not how to fix it or even how to deal with it, it's how to survive. Earn your paycheck and cause no harm to others. High unemployment and scarce jobs mean this is more likely to continue.

Brewer, I hope things work out in your favor.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:19 AM   #89
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Hey Brewer – your instincts are right on – hopefully you followed them and chose plans A or C.

ChrisC – discretion is not a lack of courage. There are times when the best thing to do is shut up and duck, as pointed out above.

If Brewer were called in by senior execs I might think a different approach to be more appropriate. Senior mgmt is absent here – a clear sign they are not “looking for” anything, just “doing something”.

Workplace is for salary. If you want truth, fairness or morality you are better off in church or court...or just safe at home, and if you want courage join the armed forces.
To each, his own. If you treat your workplace as just a place you collect a salary, then I guess you're right about that. Why even bother complaining about anything -- just show up, shut up and do the work. Discretion is sometimes the better part of valor and courage is sometimes the medium between recklessness and stupidity. Courage is also a brewery in the UK.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:25 AM   #90
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Brewer, you are doing the right thing by keeping what you know close to the chest.

I would imagine that virtually ALL of us who have worked in large organizations can think of at least one person who has "told the truth" and suffered serious, career-destroying consequences. It is easy for management to ruin one's career without actually letting someone go and I have seen it done numerous times, as I sure you have too. So unless you are ready to retire right now, I urge you to stick to your instincts here.

It seems to me that anybody who would say anything different probably has the best of intentions but just doesn't realize the consequences of what he/she is saying.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:37 AM   #91
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I am here to do my job and collect a paycheck. I happen to believe in the organization's mission, so they get some extra effort and goodwill from me, but I am not here to take risk foolishly. And there are oh so many ways to retaliate that would never be actionable.

Got through it. Kept it focused on the inane and only slipped a bit when I was told that they were considering a half day group event (said I would be deeply uncomfortable with that). Interviewer also did not like the description I gave of my role: subordinate who does their job and salutes what gets run up the flagpole, and knows where the door is if I don't like it. Told them at least I did not refer to myself as a "headcount."
Ok, I'm not trying to suggest anyone become a so-called "hero." You do what you gotta do in these situations. But you got me interested a bit in retaliation here. If you know of a way to meaningful retaliate against someone, without it being "actionable," I'd like to hear about it. I find it paradoxical for any form of "retaliation" not to be actionable since the person dishing it out must do so in a way that it hurts the employee's working conditions and the employee generally feels the pain.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:48 AM   #92
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Brewer, you noted earlier that you have been documenting everything re this situation. No way to slip that to the HR people, or is it insurance to protect yourself?
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:53 AM   #93
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Brewer, you are doing the right thing by keeping what you know close to the chest.

I would imagine that virtually ALL of us who have worked in large organizations can think of at least one person who has "told the truth" and suffered serious, career-destroying consequences. It is easy for management to ruin one's career without actually letting someone go and I have seen it done numerous times, as I sure you have too. So unless you are ready to retire right now, I urge you to stick to your instincts here.

It seems to me that anybody who would say anything different probably has the best of intentions but just doesn't realize the consequences of what he/she is saying.
And I can point to a number of people who did tell the truth, including myself, who lived to see another day; felt great personal satisfaction in doing what they did; and even managed to eventually prosper and thrive in the organization. My career wasn't destroyed. And I can count at least 3500 people who appreciated my efforts along with a few million dollars.

No one is suggesting that anyone become a so-called hero or agent of change; just that if you're asked something, give straight answers. On the other hand, putting your head in the sand and then providing evasive answers or lying about an intolerable or very bad work environment is not something I would feel at ease with myself.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:12 PM   #94
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Brewer, you noted earlier that you have been documenting everything re this situation. No way to slip that to the HR people, or is it insurance to protect yourself?
Insurance only. Hopefully it never sees the light of day.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:14 PM   #95
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Ok, I'm not trying to suggest anyone become a so-called "hero." You do what you gotta do in these situations. But you got me interested a bit in retaliation here. If you know of a way to meaningful retaliate against someone, without it being "actionable," I'd like to hear about it. I find it paradoxical for any form of "retaliation" not to be actionable since the person dishing it out must do so in a way that it hurts the employee's working conditions and the employee generally feels the pain.
Passed over for promotion, raises, bonuses; choice of assignments given; who gets stuck travelling for business (sometimes for months); who gets put under what sub boss ("you'll love working with killer"); no doubt many others.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:18 PM   #96
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Passed over for promotion, raises, bonuses; choice of assignments given; who gets stuck travelling for business (sometimes for months); who gets put under what sub boss ("you'll love working with killer"); no doubt many others.
All actionable, except for getting to work for the tyrant boss unless you can prove this was completely out of sync!
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:26 PM   #97
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All actionable, except for getting to work for the tyrant boss unless you can prove this was completely out of sync!
Perhaps. I am not the litigious type and am not interested in being blackballed by all other potential employers, so I will not be going that route. Much luck to those who do: they will need it.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:57 PM   #98
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I agree, Brewer. There's a huge amount of difference in retaliating against an employee vs. retaliating against a lawyer. It's very similar to the litigious minority employee that gets away with all sorts of stuff that the majority would be fired for. Threats of lawsuits tend to sway behavior, but most of us aren't comfortable going that way. I think you are doing the right thing.
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Old 12-30-2009, 02:53 PM   #99
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The world Brewer lives in is very very small, Chris. I think he would have an extremely hard time finding another workplace in his industry should he raise a big stink at this one. That is reality.

There is no dearth of courage in keeping your head down, collecting your paycheck, and taking care of your family. That is Brewer's first and truest obligation--the one he has to his family, not to come trumpeting in on a white horse to save his fellow man in the next cubicle.
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Old 12-30-2009, 03:17 PM   #100
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not to come trumpeting in on a white horse to save his fellow man in the next cubicle.
Especially when half of the fellow men in the immediate cubecinity are troglodytes I despise.
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