What's your problem?

Our MD has suffered the bereavement of a fairly distant relative It's turned him into a monster to work for - he bullies staff, and walked out during a private chat I'd set up with him.

by Jeremy Bullmore

I've known him for years and don't know what to do. Should I go over his head and address the company president about it, or will this only aggravate my MD's problems?

A: It's unlikely that your managing director's monster period will turn out to be permanent. The relative was a fairly distant one and the bereavement recent. You should therefore give time a chance to work its therapy. But you also need to put down a marker; so I suggest that you tackle this tricky predicament in two stages.

You should first write a short and confidential note to your company president, which simply records the MD's uncharacteristic behaviour and its damaging effect on both staff morale and company performance. The note should be generous and understanding in tone and should make it absolutely clear that it's for information only (it will almost certainly confirm what the president already suspects) and that you're firmly of the view that any immediate action would be both premature and counter-productive.

Then battle on (and encourage others to battle on) for as long as you all can bear it.

If early shoots of a return to humanity show themselves, you will be encouraged to battle on for even longer. But if no such signs become apparent, you have little choice but to go and see your president. It's still not your responsibility to recommend action; but if he's a halfway competent president, he'll already have a plan in mind and will simply be waiting for a prompt.


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