Update: What do You do When Your Coworkers are Afraid to Address a Problem as a Group?

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It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose coworkers were afraid to speak up about problems because they feared retaliation? Here’s the update.

I took your advice and the advice of the community to heart and immediately stopped encouraging my team members to approach Head Boss as a group. I also had not thought about the fact that what I had considered “nice” behavior from Project Manager wasn’t really him being a nice person, but putting on a façade. It was a very eye-opening realization which was only reinforced when we found out that the PM has actually been taking credit for others’ work on top of everything else.

What the group did do, after I shared your suggestions, was employ some of your alternate solutions, such as band together to work around our PM’s hurdles – encouraging communication to come directly to us, going directly to Head Boss and CCing her on any and all problems or deliverable complications, and pushing back against the PM as a group when he pulled some of his usual stunts. These tactics helped to a degree and more responsibility was shifted to each of us and away from the PM.

The larger issues with the PM continued, however, and at this point all of the senior personnel – myself included – are bailing as we cannot take the work environment any longer. Some of our coworkers already left for a different team, I found and accepted a new job (I start Monday!), others are actively looking, and the other that experienced retaliation last year has applied for another position elsewhere and has high hopes. This group member also opened up and told Head Boss quite frankly that the reason we are all leaving is due to the ongoing problems with Project Manager that were brought up previously that are no longer bearable...

Source: Ask a Manager

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