I have a pretty good job, but some of the managers here are very political and untrustworthy. The worst manager in our division, “Bob,” has been known to stab employees in the back before. One of my best work-friends, Cyndi, works for Bob. The truth is that Bob should work for Cyndi instead of the other way around.
Bob is not good at his job, he’s a blowhard and he hates for anyone to outshine him. Cyndi is very self-effacing but she still makes Bob insecure because she’s well-regarded throughout our company and the industry.
Bob is dishonest. I’ve heard him snap at Cyndi in meetings, and I’ve also heard him tell her, “You are the best PR person around.” Cyndi told me that she takes everything Bob says with a grain of salt. Lately there has been extra pressure on Bob because we didn’t meet corporate’s expectations last quarter.
On top of that, Cyndi has been pushing to get rid of the external PR firm that Bob hired a year ago when he was hitting all his targets. Cyndi told me that the outside PR firm costs the company $10,000 per month, even though Bob already has a perfectly capable PR manager in Cyndi.
I was walking into the big conference room for a meeting last week and I guess I slipped in quietly because Bob was on the phone in there and he didn’t hear me come in. He kept talking when I was standing right behind him. He had no idea I was there.
Bob had his back to me. He said into the phone, “Yeah, well you’ll be our de facto PR Manager after Cyndi leaves. It’ll be your show.” I could tell that it wasn’t the kind of a conversation Bob would want anyone to overhear.
I turned around and walked back into the hallway. I don’t think Bob ever noticed that anyone was in the room while he was talking.
He must have been talking to the partner at the outside PR firm. Like I said, Cyndi and I are friends. She isn’t thinking about leaving her job. She just put an addition on her house and she’s paying it off. Should I tell Cyndi what I overheard? I’m sick about it.
Cyndi is a great contributor and a wonderful team member. It sounds like Bob is planning to terminate her for no reason at all, just to put his friend at the PR firm in charge of our PR function.
I don’t want to upset her, but it’s hard to imagine any alternative explanation for Bob’s conversation apart from a plan to get rid of Cyndi and replace her with the external PR firm. What should I do?
When something like this happens we have to ask a few hard questions.
Why would Bob be allowed to run amok, unchecked by higher managers, hiring PR firms and firing competent staff members at will? If he is permitted to get rid of a valued teammate for no reason, then something is seriously wrong with your organization.
If Bob has that much power, then Bob is not the problem — he’s only a symptom of the problem. Something is broken further up the chain in that case.
The dysfunction that Bob is illuminating has huge implications for you whether Cyndi stays or goes. In other words, it’s not only Cyndi who has a problem. You have a problem, too!
It sounds like Cyndi works for Bob while you report to a different manager, but one rogue manager is enough to disrupt your organization’s culture and destroy the fabric of trust. Whether you tell Cyndi what you overheard or not, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to take a hard look at your own career path and your happiness on the job.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll change jobs in 2016, but I hope you’ll re-evaluate what you’re getting from this job and what remains for you to collect or accumulate there before you move on. Mother Nature usually gives us a friendly nudge once or twice, but if we ignore the nudges we’ll get a hard shove the next time!
I would definitely tell Cyndi what you overheard. Don’t do it in the office. Take her out after work and tell her there, in a private place (like a booth in a restaurant) where you and she can talk without worrying about being overheard yourself.
With the gift of time to prepare for Bob’s bombshell, Cyndi may be able to negotiate a good package for her exit. She may be able to start job-hunting on the side. She might decide not to take the news lying down, and take her case up the chain of command to whomever Bob reports to instead. She might decide to fight Bob’s campaign to get rid of her.
Either way, it’s hard to imagine that Cyndi would prefer that you kept your big news to yourself, as upsetting as it will undoubtedly be for her to hear it.
Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. The hardest part for Cyndi will be playing the part of a person who doesn’t know that her principal vendor and her boss are plotting against her, if she decides to keep quiet about what she’s heard until Bob springs the news on her.
Cyndi is in for a stressful next few weeks but I bet that when you tell her what you heard, she’ll say, “That makes sense — I knew Bob was up to something. There were signs.” So often, our bodies know more than our conscious minds do!
All the best to you and Cyndi,