An Open Letter to a Corporate Psychopath
Dear Corporate Psychopath,
You seem to exist in every company I’ve ever work for.
My first encounter with you shook me to the core. You bullied me into believing I was rubbish at my job and that I could do nothing right. You were so critical you made me cry, shot my confidence and gave me ungrounded fear of public speaking. This was my first job, I didn’t know how to say ‘no’ or hadn’t yet learnt that it was OK to challenge the views or opinions of my superiors. It was only when your boss found me crying in the toilet and told me she knew how I was over-worked and under-paid, how hard it must be to work for you that I started to look up and around. I realised it wasn’t just me who thought you were a knobhead. You carried no weight or respect with senior management, your peers just humoured you to get the job done and junior staff – my peers – thought you a complete tool. You had such an inflated belief in your own abilities, you didn’t seem to realise that most of the work you were presenting was mine, let alone gave me credit for it. But I thank you for this character-building experience and teaching me the value of self-promotion – and how not to do it!
The next time I met you I had been warned. A colleague told me of your ’tricky character’, I thought she was joking – oh she wasn’t. You didn’t even give me a chance to prove myself before belittling me in front of my new project team. Asserting your authority as you do by asking me questions I couldn’t dream of knowing the answer to, given I’d be in the role 5 mins. Asking me my credentials to call myself a marketing manager and what was going to do to help him in his job. Says it all really. But then you do like to shout first for impact and think later don’t you. That’s your mode. You made it very clear that you ex-Naval background would dictate how you expected our working relationship to be conducted. I do as you say – no questions. Most of the team complied with your demands, those who didn’t were moved on quickly. Senior management realised too late the monster they’d created by giving you such power and initially tried to ignore you. But then you bred an army in your ilk to bark your orders which seeped through the culture of your team. Cohesive relationships were disolved into screaming matches as the ‘us and them’ culture evolved. Senior management left it too late again to save the staff worth keeping and suddenly it became a miserable place to work and every day felt like we were going into battle. You were moved into projects of little influence in an attempt to contain your poison. Your army remained and it was all too little too late for me so I moved on. The battles, long hours and clean up process wasn’t worth the misery and salary but from this I learnt that shit floats and the type that does float is really hard to flush away.
I recognised you immediately on meeting you next. In fact you interviewed me and asked me some very odd questions. On my first day you told me I had a dotted reporting line into you – one that was invisible on the official org charts. You couldn’t answer when I asked in what capacity. Unfortunately for you, I’d grown older and wiser when it came to dealing with you and limited my dealings with you to the bare bone essentials. I cut off your oxygen supply in a hope you’d die quietly and allow me to get on with my job. Turns out you corporate psychopaths are scorpion-esque with stings in their tails. Once under threat you lash out with vengeance. Unfortunately for me, you’d defined your role around this dotted reporting line and so I’d left you with nothing to report up the line to the exec board. You didn’t make our lives a misery for another year before you stamped your feet in a last ’My skills aren’t appreciated here’ rant and leave for the ‘best job in the country’. I wasn’t proud of some of my tactics in ‘managing you out’ of the organisation particularly as you were my superior – but you really did talk a load of shit. The news of your resignation whizzed around the city via text in minutes on a Sunday afternoon meaning my Monday morning it was old news and we could get on with life. You weren’t missed. Work was fun again as the policy shackles were dropped and I for one was relieved not to have to walk the long way round the building to the bathrooms to avoid walking past your office.
Then yesterday you burst my freelancing bubble. You know the one where I think I’m completely immune to office politics? Your powers of destruction know no bounds. It’s not so much your shitty attitude or your obvious display of neediness or even your desperate need to assert some form of authority over me that bothered me. It was more the conscious and entirely pointless way you actively sought out to delay and make the execution of my project difficult.
It’s like you gain pleasure from other people’s misery. You need to jump on all the trains passing your station and create some sort of drama for which only you can resolve, just to remind us how important and valuable you are. As much as you don’t affect me like you did early in my career, you still manage to get my blood boiling. Thankfully though I’ve learnt not to let it show and feed your ego.
Instead I’ll just pretend your face is the punch bag in boxing class.