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“Think deep, decide fast”
This is what I had to do last Thursday when I was faced with a situation that deeply disturbed me…
After leaving Kapten (I talked about this in a previous post), I started a new job just one month ago, in a very attractive scale-up. Things were going globally well: all was not perfect because it takes time to fit into a new environment, with new colleagues, a new company culture, different technologies, not to mention the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the second French lockdown that started only 3 weeks after I discovered my new job’s mostly empty offices.
Last Thursday, I was attending my 5th remote 1-1 with my boss. Up to now everything went well, during the first four 1-1s he was supportive, smiling, he gave me advice even though he sometimes asked me to postpone the realization of some of my ideas because, he said, I had other priorities.
This time was different: he was angry, very angry… And he poured his anger on me during an hour! He falsely accused me of saying things I never did, he distorted my own words, he said that some of my peer managers were mad at me, that I made damages beyond repair with some of them… He used very harsh words against me: he told me some people thought I was a “cowboy”, a “conqueror”.
This meeting was deeply disturbing, because I knew things were not perfect, but never had I heard anyone tell me that I was doing wrong! As my manager never named anyone and used only real, but distorted, facts against me, I had no way of knowing where the truth was. Finally, he indirectly made me understand that I was in the hot seat.
I was petrified, shocked.
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After this meeting, I took some time to think, I talked to some colleagues, and less than 24 hours later I decided to quit this company immediately! It’s a tough decision to make, it means that I’m jobless again, that I have abandoned my team, left unfinished projects, but here’s my reasoning:
- First of all, nobody talks to me like he did! Even if the slightest thing my manager said was true, he must not raise his voice or threaten me.
- There are many conflict resolution methods, taught in books or management trainings: none of them mentions yelling, threatening or lying as a solution. I now strongly doubt his ability to manage, and therefore do not want to be managed by him again.
- I could have waited a few days, until the next managers meeting, in order to confront him AND the other managers and ask them to speak frankly. But as this is a very benevolent company and all other people are really kind, I feared that they wouldn’t dare speak up.
- Finally, I wondered how such an abusive, double faced manager could have stayed more than a year in this position without being sanctioned. For me, it meant that it would take a long time to fix things. I have no time for this…
That’s why I quit. I’m not worried about myself; I know what I’m worth and there are many other benevolent companies. I’m not worried about the company either, it’s really a fantastic company, with a promising future ahead and nice people.
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If you’re confident and not in dire need, do not let abusive people hurt you! Whatever you try you cannot change them: this kind of people have a tremendous amount of negative energy, and sometime allies. If you can’t leave, seek help, gather your own allies, and remember that whatever you may have done wrong, you don’t deserve to be treated like shit.
On February the 10th, 2021, 3 months after the events, I received a message on LinkedIn from someone who
still works it this company, but that I had never met. She was one of the person who was harassed by our
common manager, and the only one who dared talk to the Workers' Council.
She told me that the abusive manager had finally been fired! And she thanked me for bringing this affair
into the light: thanks to my LinkedIn article, the company opened its eyes, at last, and did something.
I nevertheless think that they still are totally blind because of their deficient and overconfident HR team, which
has not changed since. And I doubt that the founders learned their lesson: I know that, shortly after my
article made the rounds of the company, the CTO defamed me in a company “All Hands” meeting. He has never
apologized to me since for helping them stop the harassment.