My direct reports have been to the board to dob on me

Dear Aunty,

I’ve just been sat down by two of my directors and given a dressing down about my management style.

Apparently they’ve had complaints about me from two of my direct reports, who think that I have an “adversarial” style.

The directors told me that while they appreciate a bit of strong leadership is required at times, I need to be aware that “yelling and screaming” doesn’t get results with everyone.

And then two minutes later they told me I need to put a rocket up everyone because the numbers aren’t good enough.

Aunty, I’m not sure whether to be furious at my board for talking to me like this, furious at my direct reports for dobbing on me or furious at myself for coming on too strong.

Mr Shouty,



Dear Mr Shouty,

Well, you’re a better person than me – I would have been so furious at my direct reports and my board that I wouldn’t have even contemplated that the problem could lie with me.

But while you’d like to take some sort of sharp instrument to your busy-body directors and your snivelling, backstabbing, mamby-pamby employees who clearly can’t take a bit of direct criticism, you do need to put these thoughts to one side.

One way to address any issues would be to conduct a 360 degree review, which would involve getting comments on your style from below you (yes, the backstabbers) and above you (yes, those meddling directors) in a structured, formal process that could involve an executive coach or consultant working through the feedback with you and finding ways to improve.

You probably won’t like the process, but it will send messages to your board and your staff that their message has been (grudgingly) acknowledged and you’re doing something about adjusting your style.

That’s the mature response. You could also sulk, refuse to talk to anyone for a week and cast accusatory glances at your team. Probably wouldn’t help, but gee it will make you feel better!

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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