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Please explain email skewering Fortune 100 Boss

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Dear Office-Politics,

I am working with a very established Fortune 100 consumer electronic company. I know that I have done something that I am not supposed to do… writing electronic messages which contained sensitive information about my Boss for sole purpose of ranting and perhaps entertaining co-workers. So, finally it did happen to me today. I was called into office to explain why I sent out such messages.

My boss is a well known bad decision maker and he is easily taken over by other bosses who push more jobs which have no value added for our section.

After 3 long hours of explaining, and putting my real feeling about him on the table, I am not sure if that’s sufficient to justify that message. Damage has been done. At least I fell a little relieved because I voiced out based on my personal opinion his incompetencies right in front of him. I am not sure how this will impact my career in this company. What office politics he will play on me? How is his feeling after voicing off my real feeling about him? He did sound a little offended.

Please advise how can I proceed with my career.

Thanks a lot,

Electronically Expressive

OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY TIMOTHY JOHNSON
timothy johnson

Dear Electronically Expressive,

Um… there’s an old phrase about the pot calling the kettle black. Your “boss is a well-known bad decision-maker”? While the assessment may be true, I still had to chuckle given your own admission of guilt. And given that you work for a consumer electronics company… well… the ironies abound.

Lesson Learned For All Readers: Whatever is written in emails, Facebook, Blogs (comments or posts), or anywhere on the internet becomes a permanent electronic record. I’ve been bitten by this myself in the past. Hallway conversations and phone calls are fairly easy to deny later (and most snake politicians do this quite well). If you are going to put something in writing, assume that the entire world will be reading it before you hit enter. That may make you stop and think.

You might have tried the I-was-drunk-and-didn’t-know-what-I-was-writing excuse, but it’s a little late now…. I will at least applaud you for having the courage to share your assessments with your boss (albeit after the fact when the damage was already done). Many people do not have that level of courage to provide that level of feedback. Perhaps if you’d had this frank conversation with him before you sent out the “entertaining email” then things might be different. Whether your assessment of his ability was accurate, he’s now been publicly humiliated, and so I can’t blame him for being offended.

Your job now is twofold: damage control and relationship building. If your boss is a person with whom you want to have a professional relationship in the future, a second meeting might be in order. If he listened to your face-to-face criticisms without firing you, then there is a good chance he might listen to your concerns about your political future. The other area for damage control are your peers. A quirky thing about gossip: you can’t fling dirt without getting a little muddy yourself. Now you have the public reputation or tarnishing somebody else. Maybe you could consider sending another email to your coworkers and ‘cc-ing’ your boss, apologizing for your behavior and bad judgment. I’ve found that – like public praise – public apologies are good first steps to rebuilding a burned bridge.

Also, updating your resume might be in order. Perhaps your coworkers can give you a positive referral for your comedy writing? Word is the writer’s strike is over.

Good luck! Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.com.

Regards,

Timothy Johnson, Author & Consultant

Timothy Johnson is the Chief Accomplishment Officer of Carpe Factum, Inc. His company is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations “seize the accomplishment” through effective project management, strategic facilitation, and business process improvement. His clients have included Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, Wells Fargo, ING, Principal Financial Group, and Teva Neuroscience. Timothy has managed projects ranging from a $14 billion class action lawsuit settlement to HIPAA compliance, from software conversion to process reengineering, from strategic IT alignment to automated decisioning, from producing a training video to creating a project office environment. He is currently an adjunct professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, teaching MBA classes in Leadership, Managing Office Politics, Creativity for Business, and Project Management.

An accomplished speaker, Timothy has enthusiastically informed and entertained audiences across the nation on the topics of project communication, office politics, creativity, and meeting management. He has written two books, both business fables: Race Through The Forest – A Project Management Fable and GUST – The Tale Wind of Office Politics.

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  1. 2 Answers to “Please explain email skewering Fortune 100 Boss”

  2. Feedback from Electronically Expressive

    Timothy, thanks for providing such detail reply I really appreciate it. It’s really useful and it wake me up.

    As what Timothy said, I may have fallen into “The pot calling the kettle black” side. Perhaps my daily work frustration leads into a mountain of negative sentiments about my boss. After analyzing the action myself for a week, I realized that I have subconsciously fallen into ‘Non-professional’ side, in Star wars they called it The Dark Side.

    After all, although he did not fire me immediately (perhaps due to I am one of his core team member, and I have no performance issue so far as I always deliver) I guess I am leaving this company right after completion of my last project (3months time).
    This served me as a big career lesson that I try not to repeat it in my next job. I hope it’s not to late (I am 31 this year) to realize that sending sensitive comments in writing is a big no-no.

    Thank you guys for the valuable lesson.

    By Letter writer on Feb 17, 2008

  3. Electronically Expressive,

    Thanks for your note. I know Timothy will appreciate it.

    I think Timothy’s idea of sending a public apology to your boss may work wonders to turn your situation around.

    Good luck!

    Franke James, Editor

    By Franke James on Feb 17, 2008

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