One of Your Managers Is Nasty to His People? Ask Madeleine

April 27, 2024 Madeleine Homan Blanchard

Dear Madeleine,

I have been a student of leadership ever since I became a supervisor in my first job in the early 90s. I am now a VP of services for a collection of call centers across the UK.

I have practiced to the best of my ability everything I have learned from Ken Blanchard’s books and all of the content available over the years from Blanchard newsletters, blogs, and webinars. My company offers no training whatsoever for managers, so I have done my best to share what I’ve learned with managers who have reported to me.

I strive to seek the best in people, give them the proper mix of direction and support, help them to find opportunities, etc. Since my company has values up on the walls that have no meaning to anyone, I have come up with my own values: consistency, civility, accountability, and fairness. I share them regularly with my team and even have them on my email signature. The outcomes in my area speak for themselves, I am happy to say—until now, anyway.

I am facing a situation with a manager who reports to me. I have tried everything. He is downright nasty to his people and uses fear tactics to get results—which, predictably, have been suffering.

The last time I met with him to point out the dip in his units, he retorted that he didn’t think it was fair for me to hold him responsible for his team’s performance. He pointed out that one of my values is fairness, blatantly throwing my core beliefs in my face. I was so aghast that I was quite literally speechless. I pretended I had another meeting and told him we would take this up at his next one on one.

I have tried to be a role model for managing people and inspiring their best work. With this person, it seems all for naught. I feel confident about what I need to do here, but am writing to you to double check my instincts.



Dear Speechless,

First, my hat is off to you for your dedication to being the kind of boss we all wish we had.

Well, not all, I guess, but most.

You didn’t mention exactly what you think you need to do, but I, too, was rendered momentarily speechless by your employee’s response. I wonder who he thinks should be held responsible for the performance of a team if not the manager? That might be a question to ask in the conversation you have where you tell him it is time to part ways. (If that is not your instinct, might I be so bold as to suggest it should be.)

I know in the US, when a manager lets someone go, it is helpful to have documentation of poor performance, lack of civility, and insubordination. I don’t know if that is as necessary in the UK.

Either way, though, it does sound like you have done your utmost, and it is time to offer the opportunity to someone who at least seems to care about people and is willing to take responsibility.

Part of me is curious as to how he got the job in the first place, because he must have shown some promise—at something. But there is no telling how the sudden acquisition of power will change people. It can be truly startling.

Something Scott Blanchard (our CEO) says all the time is how mystified he is by managers who think it is okay to treat their people in ways they themselves would never tolerate. But this behavior is remarkably common. Apparently though, not on your watch.

You’ve gone to the trouble of defining your values, and I think you can lean on them to make the right decision here.

Love, Madeleine

About Madeleine

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response soon. Please be advised that although she will do her best, Madeleine cannot respond to each letter personally. Letters will be edited for clarity and length.

About the Author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a Master Certified Coach and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. She is coauthor of Blanchard’s Coaching Essentials training program, and several books including Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest, Coaching in Organizations, and Coaching for Leadership.

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