Skip to main content

THE QUESTION

I am part of a sales team. My new boss seems to use scare tactics, and threatens to fire us all if the sales numbers aren't great. My boss also screams and yells at the team during monthly meetings, leaving all of us feeling scared and discouraged. Is there anything I can do to help change the negative culture of the team?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Story continues below advertisement

Kyle Couch

President, Spectrum Organizational Development, Toronto

The sad part of your situation is that it is all too common. While most other departments have moved on to more progressive performance management approaches, many sales departments still rely on this archaic management style to "encourage" sales people to meet their targets. If the team does not meet those targets, your boss's reputation is on the line.

None of this excuses your boss's behaviour, however, which must be addressed.

Your manager was likely brought in to fix a problem and may feel the need to establish his or her place in the hierarchy quickly. It may turn out that your boss has limited leadership skills, only knows the "old school" methods and is under the impression that such behaviour is helping to motivate you.

He or she likely does not have a comprehensive long-term strategy and therefore has to rely on monthly panic and bullying tactics. My advice is to work together to develop a sales strategy. This will potentially allay some of your boss's fears and put him or her in a position to monitor and help improve the monthly numbers.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Story continues below advertisement

Daniel Lublin

Partner at Whitten & Lublin, Toronto

This conduct can be viewed as workplace bullying or harassment, even if it is not focused solely on you. In Shaw v. Xerox, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a judgment finding that a manager's unjustified and unsubstantiated performance criticisms of an employee rendered his continued employment intolerable. In that case, the employee resigned and successfully sued for damages because his manager badly mistreated him.

The court stated that "an employer is entitled to be critical of unsatisfactory work and to take such disciplinary or other measures as it believes appropriate to remedy the situation. There is, however, a limit. If the employer's conduct passes so far beyond the bounds of reasonableness that the employee reasonably finds continued employment to be intolerable, there will be a constructive dismissal."

Therefore, in situations when a manager's conduct is such that a reasonable person should not be expected to persevere, an employee can leave and sue for damages.

Stopping short of threatening or even bringing a lawsuit, you should also consider filing a formal workplace bullying or harassment complaint with the company. If a complaint is filed, the company has a legal onus to fairly investigate whether the conduct complained of is offside with any of its workplace policies or employment laws, and to protect you from further mistreatment, if it has occurred. The law protects you from retaliation, including discipline or termination, from raising a legitimate bullying or harassment complaint.

Story continues below advertisement

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies