update: our boss won’t speak to us, hides in his office, and drops off calls if anyone greets him

It’s “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

We have so many updates this year that I’m going to be posting six to seven times a day for the next several weeks — so keep checking back throughout the entire day.

Remember the letter-writer whose boss won’t speak to anyone, hides in his office, and drops off calls if anyone greets him? Here’s the update.

Thank you Alison and everyone who commented. I wrote a few months ago and it has been a whirlwind of insanity. First, many of the commenters were right that the director has other issues, and there were things bubbling under the surface that came to light later.

The day after my letter was published the CFO returned from bereavement leave for her husband and was taken into a meeting where she was told that they’d found a number of fraudulent activities and things would have to change, She quit on the spot and was gone an hour later. My director took the whole office out to lunch as a celebration for ‘finally getting rid of her’. My raise and promotion came through the next day, apparently the CFO was the one holding it up, not the ED. It was not quite as much as we’d discussed, but still very good and I was not unhappy.

My director has since succumbed to the pressure and has started regular screaming matches with the ED, and targeting people who disagree with her, so I’m surely not long for this position. I spoke to the ED about it yesterday and he promised to keep our conversation private, but I noticed he was on a zoom call with her 20 minutes later, so I know I’m going to hear about that when she returns from her vacation next week.

In an effort towards ‘growth’ the ED hired an outside HR consultant, who happens to be his wife’s best friend. Previously we were not allowed to contact her and needed to take issues to him so he could decide if it needed to go to HR. Since then, the rest of us have been allowed to meet her. She did a DiSC assessment with the team, which most of us found to be fairly interesting. In days since, all behavior is now explained away with the letter we received in the assessment. ‘Well, you know, she’s an i. You know how i’s are.’ or ‘well, you’re a C, so you aren’t as passionate about this as a D would be’. I don’t take it seriously, but a number of people at work do. (It has been explained to me that I would take it more seriously if I were an i or S – but I’m a C – so what do you expect?)

The good news is that I’ve started interviewing for other jobs. I’m being more selective this time, because I can stay at this job for a while longer and don’t want to jump into another pit of dispair. I’m riding it out and doing the best work that I can do, enjoying the perks of working from home two days a week and keeping my options open.

{ 208 comments… read them below }

  1. jane's nemesis*

    The original letter: 11 of us at this workplace are great; our ED is awful
    Now: everyone is terrible, actually

    1. jane's nemesis*

      (not meant to be casting aspersions on LW! Good for them for recognizing the toxicity and working to get out!)

    2. generic_username*

      Haha, yeah, the ED’s weirdness being tolerated makes a lot more sense now. This entire workplace sounds like a mess

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – the most visibly wacky person can frequently hide other less visible problems.

        Sounds like that may have been what was happening.

        Also, we don’t hear a lot about the lower level folks here. They may be great (and normal) and keeping their head down while frantically interviewing for other jobs.

    3. MissGirl*

      I spent this entire letter trying to figure out who the bad person was and who the good person was. I guess when all the leadership is bad, it’s time to jump off that crazy boat.

        1. shedubba*

          The Executive Director is a man. “My Director” is a woman, and LW is her direct report. They’re two different people.

          1. Felix*

            But the director was referred to as the manager in the first letter. This company seems to have a lot of management for a 12 person operation.

            1. Candi*

              Mix and match, pick your poison:

              An easy way to make someone look/feel more important is slap them with a title without any actual pay raise, extra privileges, or more authority. (But often extra responsibility.)

              A way to make an org look more important is to stick a bunch of people with management titles, since the normal thing is to have more low-level workers than managers.

              If management wants to make favorites look good, giving them a manager title is an easy way to do that.

    4. I'm that guy*

      How to places like this exist? What do they do/produce in such incredible disfunction? I don’t understand.

      1. 2 Cents*

        As agencies do this. I worked in one very similar. Had 30 people on staff and six of them VPs, 2 owners, 1 CFO and 1 creative director. It was dysfunctional.

    5. Anon for This*

      It’s really amazing how a shrewd problem causer can make someone else look like the problem. For most of two years, my coworkers and I thought our boss was the source of the dysfunction in our department… only to learn it’s actually a combination of the head of HR and our boss’s boss being too afraid of HR to go to bat for us, and squelching our boss’s efforts to get the problems in our workforce resolved.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think that that’s what’s going on, though. The CFO was clearly a problem. But the ED is STILL a problem, and so is the Board.

        1. Amaranth*

          I’m still trying to figure out why LW’s boss was hiding in their office. If it was ‘better’ after the CFO left, I assumed they had blown a whistle and were waiting for fallout. But it sounds like the ED is the/a problem? That place is a mire of dysfunction.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I think that happens a lot. “We finally got rid of the person tap dancing through the office wearing a flashing I AM THE PROBLEM hat, and it turns out that wasn’t the one bad thing.”

  2. Artemesia*

    Oh Rich!!! Those pop psych personality assessments CAN be helpful if the key point is to help people learn to appreciate different inputs and points of view — they are ridiculous and damaging if they are used to defend or dismiss incompetence or poor management or poor workplace behavior.

    I once served on a large non profit board which was very active in organizational management and which was very dysfunctional — those of us who got things done were driven mad by those who spent endless expensive (fly in ) meetings diddling around and re-arranging the chairs and shape of the table so to speak. the consultant who did the MB with us actually facilitated it in a way that empowered people to say ‘I understand that your approach is to explore and debate and we appreciate the things you bring to the table from that BUT we HAVE to get XY and Z done or the organization will fold.’ I am different and make different contributions is easier to live with than I am a procrastinating dunderhead. Things actually got better – at least for the 2 of us out of 15 who actually wanted to get things done.

    I hope you get a job not in the crazy factory soon.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Ahhh yes, good ol DiSC assessments. Yet another entry into the gumbo pot of office astrology tools.

      1. Candi*

        I ran into DiSC when doing an Mturk survey. After some research, I consider them even more useless than Meyer-Briggs.

        MB might actually point you in a reasonable correct direction on a map, although you still need to find out the details for yourself.

        DiSC throws a bunch of markers on the map and pretends they’re accurate because reasons.

    2. Me*

      We had to do some kumbaya lets all communicate and understand each other better crap that included the (frnakly) pointless DiSC.

      When really what needed and still needs to happen is very specific individuals need to be told they cannot act like glassbowls at work.

    3. Monte*

      I had to do one for my last toxic job when I was hired and two years later. As far as I know they just sat on my boss’s desk and we never heard anything about them. I should have seen the red flag when I was hired that he did them to make sure I was a “good fit,” but I was desperate.
      He also made us read that Disney hospital book on our own time because quality medicine is definitely a theme park!

      1. Candi*

        (Googles “Disney hospital book”)

        Result: If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently

        (reads synopsis)

        What the even what?

      1. Candi*

        Where did they get the samples?

        One of the problems they’re finding with machine learning is the high proportion of data fed to it that prioritizes one specific demographic.

        (Lesson 1: Screen databases, don’t just dump the info into the poor AI’s mind.)

    4. blood orange*

      Agreed! They’re certainly not meant to put people into buckets and then weaponize what you learn about them.

      I had a really successful engagement with a senior leadership team when we used a version of MBTI. The team worked relatively well together already, but had difficulty working through disagreements. The exercises we did seemed to create a lot of understanding into what each person cared about, how everyone communicates, and how they processed information differently.

      One team member was notoriously difficult to get along with and had very low EQ. It helped a TON to understand his motivations better and learn how best to communicate with him. He’s still hella difficult, but we learned to navigate him better!

      1. PT*

        I had a boss who did that, they had us do DISC (I think) in an HR training. The training was a valid and sensible training, it was about how to be an effective manager to a diverse team, and involved using the DISC assessment as a starting point to highlight the different types of people you might encounter on your team and how you would manage them, and how the way you’d like to be managed or how you’d prefer to manage might not be what works best for them so you would have to use your self-awareness to come up with strategies that worked well for everyone. Wholly reasonable.

        My boss took this to mean that he should bully and subsequently purge his team of anyone who didn’t get the same result he did because “there’s no reason to work with people who are different from me, since they are impossible to manage and we can’t learn anything from each other.”

  3. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

    But what is up with the ED? Why is he behaving oddly? Please sit him down and get the full story. I need closure on the full scope of issues here.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      Speculation: the odd behavior in the original letter was not because of being called on something in that meeting; it is because of whatever financial irregularities were going on with the CFO. Maybe he was worried they were going to fold. Maybe he was worried he’d be implicated in what had been found.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        That was my thought as well. LW doesn’t say, and may not even know. And now her manager, who’d previously been on her side, is making a power play to wind up in the big office. Hence the “disagreements”. It’s a lot of reading between the lines, and may not be totally accurate, but I bet it’s close.

      2. Observer*

        That doesn’t really fit the facts. He’s still acting ridiculously. Daily screaming matches with a program director? Being untrustworthy? Sure, an ED can’t always keep something he’s been told confidential. But do NOT promise to do so than turn around and break that promise. Hiring his wife’s best friend to run HR? Especially since she sounds utterly incompetent…

        1. jane's nemesis*

          oh yeah, I didn’t mean to say he WASN’T weird or toxic or awful. Just that the hiding from people in the hallways and trying to eavesdrop on meetings might have been connected to the CFO situation.

      3. generic_username*

        I am getting that impression now too. LW doesn’t mention his weirdness in the update – I wonder if he was just busy building the case against the CFO or was afraid he’d say something that would expose the news before the CFO returned. Or the stress of just knowing that this conversation was coming

        1. jane's nemesis*

          Yeah, I’m curious if his refusing to speak to people in hallways and trying to quietly log in to meetings to eavesdrop ended after the CFO situation or if that behavior continued.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Yes but they found FRAUD and the CFO was just told to stop it. Umm, FRAUD and they get another chance? This place is weird.

          GET OUT OP before it warps your norms even more.

  4. Mockingdragon*

    W…..What? I….What?

    I got nothing. This is bonkers! Luckily it sounds like you’ve got a sense of humor about watching it while you hunt!

    1. Candi*

      They probably found the letter where either Alison or a member of the commentariat (I forget) advises watching these things like observing a rare animal or culture. Distance yourself and act like one of those scientists who studies without getting involved.

  5. Bookworm*

    O_O What a wild update, OP. I’m glad you got a raise (even if it’s not quite there for you). Good luck interviewing!! Hope something pops up very soon!!

    1. I'm that guy*

      I love that. You may still be living in crazytown but at least you got your promotion and raise.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Same. But it sounds like the company is also confusing. Glad that LW is trying to get out!

    2. Holy Moly Workhours Batman*

      Agreed! I had to reread this letter and the old letter a few times to understand what was going on.

    3. anonymous73*

      Basically the ED is looney tunes, acting like a toddler and hired his wife’s bestie for HR purposes (totally NOT a conflict of interest AT ALL), the CFO was fired for fraudulent activity, and OP has realized that she needs to get out ASAP because her company sucks.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Give point the former (ED is looney tunes/acting like a toddler/hired someone with a significant conflict of interest) is it possible that point the middle (the CFO being fired for fraudulent activity) was done improperly? Okay, this might be a plot from a book somewhere….

        Good for the OP for realizing she works in a beehive though, and is working on getting out!

      2. I'm that guy*

        You left out the part where the OP’s boss, the director is having screaming matches with the ED (who is talking to people now so that’s good?) and targeting people who disagree with her.

        What do they produce at this company other than drama?

      3. Indy Dem*

        Just to clarify, the LW stated the CFO quit, not got fired. Semantics, maybe, but if I just came back to work, after losing my spouse, only to be accused of fraudulent activity, I’d be out of there, too.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Duly noted, and given “quit” over “fired”, well, I’m thinking the accusation of fraudulent activity is even less likely to be in good faith.

    4. bluephone*

      Same here. I’m starting to wonder if I’m dumb or something because between this update and the “BDSM/covid-test” update from a few days ago, nothing makes sense lately.

      (Also is it me or did the “BDSM/covid test” update not actually include anything about that 2nd question regarding covid tests before an in-person interview?)

  6. Maseca*

    Hah, our department did DISC assessments at one of those all-day conferences a few years back and I also found it somewhat interesting, somewhat silly (somehow, everyone else’s assessment seemed 100% work-focused while mine included a bunch of conclusions about my emotional capacity or something like that?). I think the discussions we had about it focused mainly on communication styles and strategies between DISC types, so it felt a bit less like Astrology Boss Says It’s Because You’re a Libra. Still ended up feeling like we’d all just dissected a Buzzfeed quiz that assigned us each a Disney princess, though.

    1. redflagday701*

      Those kinds of assessments seem really phony and ridiculous to me, but of course I feel that way, as an Enneagram type 4.

      1. Kat in Boots*

        LOL. As someone with post-grad training in Psychology which came with learning about psychometric test construction, these types of assessments irritate me even more than they do others. The Disney Princess analogy is hilarious and not inaccurate!

        1. Candi*

          Eh, the one I took for a survey made me think more of “what animated support character are you, if they were also a dog?”

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          Even the Myers-Briggs is unsupported by actual scientific background. The creators kind of mumbled about Jung and said “buy our trademarked special test!”

    2. WomEngineer*

      I also think those tests interesting, especially when it relates to my work. But I always get some form of “logical/analytical” and “likes to work harmoniously with others” on those assessments, so I’m probably enjoying it more than the average person.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Am I the only one who now has the song D-I-S-C-O stuck in my head thanks to this acronym? Frankly, a DISCO assessment sounds like a lot more fun than any personality type assessment…

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        And now I have Disco Duck on my head. But I’ve altered the title slightly, and am thinking how I would create lyrics to reply to a person who essentially interpreting tea leaves and weapons ing what they have determined is my personality.

    4. CoveredinBees*

      I just looked up the DiSC website and I think you owe Buzzfeed quizzes an apology. Each of the types include traits that could easily coexist in any emotionally healthy individual. I could understand if their approach was more like: You are a combination of things and here’s what comes up the most to least. Instead, like Highlander, there can be only one.

      1. Maseca*

        I recall it being incredibly detailed (both the quiz and the analysis – like 20+ pages each) but also pretty arbitrary because there were always multiple different answers I *could* have picked for most scenarios, and it was often clear which ones were skewed to which personality types. AND add to that the optics of filling this out at work – how honest am I really going to be about my frustration level or impatience with slower coworkers and inane meetings, for example? Isn’t it in my best interests to pick the answers that suggest I’m a team player and don’t like drama? But then again, I’m the person who scored at the extreme end of the conscientious/analytical scale…

      2. fifteen minutes of indiscriminate screeching*

        the buzzfeed “which voltron paladin are you” quiz has more test-retest reliability than the mbti!

        source: me, who has taken the mbti countless times and gets a different result every time, but every time i take that damn quiz it gives me keith

        1. Eat My Squirrel*

          I just looked up and took that quiz in the hopes that we could create an AAM Voltron crew. Sadly, I am also Keith.

      3. Hannah Lee*

        I took a look at the website and don’t know much about it beyond what’s on their landing page.

        But I am 99.9999% certain that if my workplace had us take that assessment, I’d wind up landing in the only section designated by a lower case letter “i” , the color RED and with the word enthusiasm hovering over it, as opposed to RESULTS or ACTION or ACCURACY or the other kinds of buzzwords that ENTJ leader types just luuuuvvv.

        My own experiences with these types of assessments is that after going through it, people either get pigeon holed, or the people who have been causing the most communication and collaboration issues don’t even consider changing their approaches be “better” co-workers and everyone else sort of tries to incorporate some of it, but then gives up when it’s clear that “loud credit grabbing bully” is the dominant personality type in leadership or when the primary take away is that to succeed in the organization, you should try to act like an ENTJ.

        The good news is that I probably will never have to complete a DiSC assessment in my current job, since the CEO would most likely come out as primarily D with some C and would never bother with personality assessments when he could be getting or measuring results.

    5. Not really a Waitress*

      twenty odd years ago, in my retail life, I was a department manager for a new store opening. WE did one of those teambuilding assessments. I don’t remember what the other “labels” were. But on our 8 person team, I was the only person to be a “challenger”. Specifically after the facilitator said with new teams no one is ever a challenger.

      I just remember for the first year (until people moved out and on) any time I asked a question or suggested something something was said about me being the challenger.

      I also dated a guy who wouldn’t vote for a candidate “because she was a scorpio.”

      Can’t help but get the same vibe

      1. redflagday701*

        If the Scorpio candidate is the obvious one, I am loling imagining an America where all these angry conservative men who are really into astrology explain that they couldn’t vote for her because of her sign.

      2. generic_username*

        I knew someone whose partner dumped them because their Myer-Briggs results weren’t compatible

        1. Candi*

          Mine and my younger kid’s aren’t compatible! Introvert vs Extravert, logical vs emotional… But we make it work, even though we’re both going to college and they’re still living with me, so, fair amounts of stress.

          If someone dumps someone over that instead of assessing what else they have together, and whether they can work things out and deal with each other foibles, well, I question if they wanted to try and stay in the relationship in the first place. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked out. Or maybe it would have if they chose to go deeper than an iffy personality test.

    6. SomebodyElse*

      Your experience sounds a lot like mine… our assessment was held by a competent facilitator that said point blank at the beginning. “These scores don’t define you. It indicates where you might be more comfortable in your communication style. This is designed to give you tools to understand your coworkers preferences in communication. Any other use is wrong”

      To be fair there were lots of “Oh she’s a high D, that explains a lot” or “I’m going to take my C self and hang out with the I’s” type of jokes. But I will admit it made the working relationship between my D-self and my C-coworker when I would remember she needs time to digest information before being willing to make a decision a whole lot easier. After recognizing that trait I started sending her info ahead of time with what decision I was looking to make and scheduling a meeting discuss after a couple of days. We were both a lot less frustrated with each other. She in turn realized that I needed her to come prepared to decide and we could use the meeting time for next steps.

      So yeah, this is one I think had some value… I’ve never really seen much from the others

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yes, that’s been my experience as well with a similar type of system. I’ve found it very helpful in order to understand different ways of communication, and communication styles.

        It’s helpful to remember/understand that people process and needs information in the same way and you can try to tailor your approach according to who you are dealing with.

        And they were super clear that this is what it provided a framework for, nothing else.

      2. redflagday701*

        I joked above about being a 4, but my wife introduced me to the Enneagram a while ago, and we’ve actually found it quite useful for understanding ourselves and our relationship, always with the caveat that these numbers don’t define us or represent an absolute truth; they’re a framework that rings true in ways that have helped us get better perspectives on who we are.

    7. Excel-sior*

      These things always remind me a little of Brave New World;

      “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse.”

      1. Candi*

        I couldn’t really get into it after the tour of the artificial wombs and birthing facility. But I wonder if the Beta knows that the lower levels were deliberately treated in the womb to be not as smart -Huxley didn’t foresee the oncoming world of automation, and thought humans would do what machines wound up doing within less than fifty years. And the lower ranks of human workers would be the fleshy cogs of industry.

        …there’s a metaphor here for modern workplaces, but I can’t quite put it in words.

    8. Merci Dee*

      We had a training class on working with different personality types, and each of us was required to do the DiSC assessment, as well. Then we had to break into groups based on our results and do a little puzzle game. The training was pretty interesting, and the presenter was asking us some questions about what we thought of the assessment and our results, etc. A few of us in the class are pretty familiar with the lady who was presenting, so she specifically asked us what our thoughts were. I told her the training was interesting and she’d done a great job, but I didn’t put too much stock on my result. When she asked why, I told her that I could re-take that assessment in a week, and I would end up with a different answer because there’s no telling what would happen to be between now and then, and I could be a totally different person with a totally different set of experiences forefront in my mind. I told her that I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test several times, and my results have been different each time I’ve taken it. Several others chimed in with similar experiences, and our presenter was just tickled pink with those observations. She went on to tell us that things like DiSC and Myers-Briggs were meant to be tools that showed us where we were at a particular point in time and were not concrete, written-in-stone kinds of situations precisely because people and their situations change on a daily basis.

      I think she was the first trainer I’ve ever had in a course like this that was open with the fact that their preferred personality test was not the be-all, end-all of personality tests that would positively map out your life for the rest of your life. I give her mad props for that. Then again, she’s a pretty great, grounded lady to start with.

    9. RosyGlasses*

      Yeah, done well, the DISC (haha, my computer auto corrected to DISCO :P) can be really helpful for understanding how to navigate communication styles – but that is ALL it is for – it is not meant to be a personality assessment; only a way to understand people’s default communication styles so you can try to adjust if you get stuck working with someone and giving insight into conflict.

    1. Beany*

      Yeah, there are more moving parts than was apparent in the original letter. I’m getting confused about who’s the Big Bad here, but it looks like there are two or three contenders, for different reasons.

      1. Candi*

        Makes you wonder if it’s a case of Co-Dragons, Dragon Ascendant, Demoted to Dragon, or Dragon-in-Chief.

        (Sorrynotsorry for the ensuing TVT wiki walk.)

        1. Clorinda*

          My first thought was, how on earth is it possible that everyone in authority is weird like this? Second thought: how could it be otherwise? People who don’t tolerate the weirdness have already moved on to other opportunities. Maybe hiding in one’s office and refusing to talk to anyone was the REASONABLE option.

  7. The Dogman*

    This update creates more questions than it answers…

    I do know I do not want to work for such a dysfunctional place!

  8. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Oh, I’m sorry you’ve now been branded permanently as a letter. Ooof.

    I had a director who would remember what letter we were after the DiSC assessment…but it always with love and affection, rather than a damnation or a label. And remembering it helped her remember how to deal with some people. She didn’t take it very seriously.

    Because after all, those test results vary wildly based on you’re feeling that day!

  9. generic_username*

    Was hoping for an update on this!

    I don’t take it seriously, but a number of people at work do. (It has been explained to me that I would take it more seriously if I were an i or S – but I’m a C – so what do you expect?)

    This made me laugh. We had something similar happen at my work. We were spending an entire day discussing our results and what they meant for us in our jobs (lol, such a waste of time), and one person said they didn’t put a lot of faith in personality tests and thought they were junk science, and the boss who had us do it was like “Well of course you feel that way, you’re a C!” (I forget what system we were using, so C is used here as an example)

    1. Daffodilly*

      If refusing to believe stupid personality tests that have no science behind them makes me a “C” or whatever box they want to put me in, that’s fine with me.
      So long as all the other categories/boxes get the label “believe in made up crap”

    2. Maseca*

      Gee, all the proofreaders are conscientious and detail-oriented, what a shock! No one saw that coming!

    3. LizM*

      What’s funny is when I took the DiSC assessment, it was taught by someone who spent a lot of time talking about the neurochemistry of emotions, so by the time we got to the assessment, as a C (someone who is very analytical), I was fully on board, and the more relationship-based people in our group were skeptical.

      I actually thought it was a useful training, because it was for managers, and the focus was on how to work with employees who have different styles than you (like, if you’re super to the point and analytical like me, maybe you need to soften up a bit if your staff member is more relationship based, and ask her how her weekend went before diving into a work question…), but I have definitely been in other personality test trainings that felt like we just sat around and took buzzfeed trainings all day.

  10. Salsa Verde*

    Yes, I’m confused – the first letter seemed like the ED was the problem, direct boss was ok, and CFO was going to fix everything when she returned.
    Now it seems like CFO was the worst, direct boss is second worst, and ED is the savior?
    And he automatically started speaking to everyone again once the CFO was gone? I get that he might have been freaked out about the financial irregularities, but not speaking to anyone is way, drastically overboard.
    And is the director who now is targeting those she doesn’t like the same one who confronted the ED about thinking of her like his daughter?
    I’m so confused – LOL!!

    1. Observer*

      Nah, the ED doesn’t sound like a savior. Just not the most obviously dysfunctional incompetent in the place.

      Even with the CFO gone there is enough pressure that Manager, who had been reasonably ok till then, has “succumbed” and is engaged in daily shouting matches – With the ED no less. So, that tells you something right there about the ED.

      Then there is the nonsense about hiring an incompetent HR person because she’s the ED’s best friend. (Using the DiSC assessment may not make her incompetent, but then using that to dismiss complaints based on people’s letter IS most definitely incompetent!)

      1. redflagday701*

        I thought she might not have succumbed to the pressure of working there, but the pressure/stress of dealing with an ED who was being so wildly incommunicative and stubborn. Either way, none of it sounds good!

        1. Double A*

          Personality assessments, belief in magic, and religion are all varying degrees of narrative tools that provide people frameworks for understanding the world. Human beings cannot function without frameworks and narratives.

          While I don’t believe in any of these particular narratives myself (though I admit I sometimes find personality assessments fun), I understand why different people find them useful. You sound like you value reason and logic to the exclusion of anything else. I find people whose narrative framework is centered on those values often have huge blindspots when it comes to anything involving subjective experiences, often dismissing them as irrelevant because you can’t “prove” them. Dismissing anyone who believes in God/s as incompetent (as you called those who use personality assessments) is…limiting to say the least.

        2. Observer*

          I thought she might not have succumbed to the pressure of working there, but the pressure/stress of dealing with an ED who was being so wildly incommunicative and stubborn. Either way, none of it sounds good!

          Pretty much this. I have no doubt that a good deal of the pressure the OP mentions is coming from the ED

      2. The Dogman*

        “Using the DiSC assessment may not make her incompetent”

        Yes it does. No ambiguity, anyone who uses any form of “personality test” is incompetent and foolish, they demonstrate by using this junk/pseudo-science that nothing they do or say is based on rational thoughts.

        It removes all respect I have for someone if they believe in these things, just like when someone tells me a rock has “feelings” and can cure health issues, or that there is a god/s… they are all talking absolute rot!

      3. ecnaseener*

        Just from the Wikipedia page on DiSC, it doesn’t even sound like it wants to be a personality test so much as a “types of behavior everyone engages in sometimes depending on the situation” framework. I wonder if anyone’s had decent success using it that way.

        As an actual personality label, it looks bonkers.

        1. Observer*

          According to a couple of commenters, used to help people figure out better ways to communicated has been occasionally helpful.

          1. Candi*

            I noticed that the people in those comments who were handling the assessment treated DiSC as one tool of many, not a be all and end all of all answers to personality/communication issues and problems. They used it, rather than paying homage to it.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              I think that’s the key with *any* personality test. Use it as a tool for understanding yourself and what things MAY be influencing your response to a situation. It’s kind of like looking for unconscious bias — if I’ve identified that I have a bias against The Sharks, then when a Shark comes to me with a complaint and my inclination is to dismiss it, I need to think carefully before making a decision: What are the actual merits of the complaint? What do I actually know about the people involved (like, *know* not assume based on their group)? Would I dismiss the same complaint from a Jet? Would I dismiss the same complaint from someone who is neither a Shark or a Jet?

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        It sounds like OP’s manager has stepped in to fill a void, maybe the role of punching bag, previously held by the CFO.

        At least we can now understand why the ED was lurking in meetings, he was trying to be discreet so the CFO (and or others) would forget he was tuned in, and maybe say something that would give them away. But the rest is still mystifying.

    2. OP*

      I’m confused too, to be honest. I wouldn’t say the ED is the savior. My direct boss is still great – just a bit more unstable than before. And a lot came out after the CFO quit.

      1. Prof Space Cadert*

        Thanks for clarifying, OP. The place sounds like a mess, and I think you’re wise to be working on getting out of there.

  11. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    What just happened?
    The original latter i could follow but this one is very confusing.

    1. Daniel*

      This entire COMPANY sounds confusing, so I think most of us are on the same boat.

      Glad to hear that the OP is interviewing for other gigs. While this office sounds like it could be a wild movie, I sure wouldn’t want to actually live or work in it.

      1. Jaybee*

        No, I think ‘most of us’ were able to follow this just fine.

        I can’t imagine complaining about an update like this being confusing. You do remember that LW is a real person discussing something that’s actually happening to them, right? Not a professional writer creating a sensible plot for your entertainment?

        I cannot grasp the entitlement some commenters here are displaying. ‘It’s confusing’. Gosh.

        1. Holy Moly Workhours Batman*

          This comment is weirdly adversarial….. A lot of people found the update confusing.. Including myself. That doesn’t mean we’re not happy for the OP for working on getting out of there!

        2. The Dogman*

          People are allowed to be confused, why are you so upset about it?

          It is not “entitled” to express that as a personal opinion is it?

          I think it is not exactly clear what or why is happening there now and, like a lot of people, I would like to know more… since morbid fascination is a real thing!

        3. quill*

          This is a weird molehill to make your stand on. It’s not entitled to experience confusion: this is a normal brain function.

        4. anonymous73*

          Somebody needs a snickers…

          Seeing as several people on here are a bit confused by the update, it stands to reason that it may be confusing. How is it entitled to mention it’s confusing? I think you’re the one who needs to come down off that high horse of yours before you fall and hurt yourself.

    2. quill*

      It appears that part of the problem is using different terms from the original letter, I will attempt a quick summary:

      Letter 1: Executive director (ED) has stopped speaking to the other 11 members of the company and is rude and combative. The CFO is on leave. OP’s raise is stuck in processing, presumably because of either the ED blowing everyone off, or because the CFO is on leave of undetermined duration.

      Allison advises asking OP’s boss to give the proceedings a kick in the butt. Commentariat is suspicious of the company’s longevity.

      – CFO returns from leave and is told she’s being investigated for fraud. She quits and leaves.
      – Either the ED or Op’s boss takes everyone out to lunch to celebrate “finally getting rid of her” which is both crass and kinda sus. My bet is that this is OP’s boss, due to later developments.
      – OP recieves their raise and promotion.
      – OP’s boss is now in regular screaming matches with the ED and targeting other members of the now 11 person company. OP believes that the Eye of Sauron will be turned towards them eventually, discusses their concerns with the ED. Who is on skype with OP’s boss within the half hour, which may or may not be sus.

      – Unrelated to any of the above, ED hires a consultant to do HR. He doesn’t let anyone go to HR with anything, it has to go through him. The HR person has personality tested everyone and now the office culture is to blame everything / explain everything by this assessment, leading to more toxicity.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        Thank you for this! This is exactly how I read it. I think it’s the use of “director” mixed with “ED” that confused people.

      2. Midwest Manager*

        Thank you for this summary! It cleared up my own confusion quite well.

        And props to OP for working to get out of this bananas place!

      3. Prof Space Cadert*

        Quill’s summary approximately what I got from it too.

        This is not meant as a criticism of the LW, but I find it helpful when letters with complex events use names in addition to titles. It’s much easier to follow “Lucinda/the CFO resigned due to fraud and ED Fergus started talking to people again but now gets into screaming matches with Jane/my director.”

    1. Laika*

      An old job once sent around emails insisting that everyone fill out a series of personality tests, because they wanted to use the data to vet future hires (!!!!).

      I didn’t have much social credit left to spend there but I did everything I could to explain to them why that was such a terrible idea.

      A few days later we got an update saying that the tests were just for fun and optional… Yes, so much fun

    2. Indy Dem*

      Company that I worked at gave a personality test (luckily a few years before I started), with different colored blocks stacked on each other to represent how you scored. And you were to put them in your work area so others would know best how to interact with you. Yeah, nope.

    3. Prof Space Cadert*

      It’s really baffling to me how stubbornly invested so many organizations are in defending “personality tests,” especially Myers-Briggs. It’s almost like they’re embarrassed to admit that they were deceived.

  12. I should really pick a name*

    “My director took the whole office out to lunch as a celebration for ‘finally getting rid of her’. ”

    Oh dear…

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        I mean I’d probably have done that when the ED started acting like a temperamental house cat.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          OMG, that is such a great description of the ED’s behavior.
          If only the CFO had spent some of those ill-gotten (or ill-taken) gains and spent them on a ED sized catio and cat superhighway/mezzanine, things would have been much more functional at this workplace.

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      Getting rid of her the first day back from bereavement leave for her husband – this is worrying to me. IF she did commit fraud then any timing would be awful but this is the worst. And what if she didn’t commit fraud? Was it proven? The head guy is nuts – should you believe his allegations? She may have just quit because she didn’t need the insanity of that job after what she has gone through.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        Yeah, I’m seeing a lot of comments that are assuming the CFO is the one that committed the fraud. The letter certainly doesn’t say that. They found evidence of fraud and wanted to change procedures and the CFO quit. For all we know somebody else is committing fraud and the change of procedures are a coverup and the CFO quit because they didn’t want to be involved. Holding up a promotion/raise doesn’t automatically make you the villain. I’ve seen a lot of fraud in small organizations where it is tried to be pinned on someone who may or may not be guilty. The ED clearly seems off from the prior letter, and I don’t readily put any stock into his version of events.

        1. shuu_iam*

          Also, given that the CFO had just returned from bereavement leave, I wouldn’t even view the quitting as an admission of guilt. Their spouse just died! It’s not hard to imagine them returning to work, facing all that mess, and saying “screw it; I can’t deal with this right now; I’m out.”

          (Which isn’t to say the CFO is definitely perfect and blameless either, just… wow, the lack of compassion from the director is notable.)

      2. Agnes A*

        Right, I was looking for this kind of comment because I couldn’t believe no one is bothered by this.
        I’ve had some unpleasant colleagues but I cannot imagine celebrating when they left. It sounds like a scene from a bad movie.

        1. Vanilla Nice*

          I will admit that a co-worker and I once went out for a drink after work after the office bully finally got fired, but yeah, I wouldn’t have called it a celebration as much as a “let’s process what just happened and brainstorm the future.” And we certainly didn’t invite the whole office!

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I walked – no danced – on sunshine all the way home the day I realised my former boss had been kicked out unceremoniously by the guy he’d sold the place to. I did refrain from making a Schadenfreude post on FB.

  13. Cheap Ass Rolex*

    For “some reason” companies take that stuff seriously only when it serves their purposes. I doubt that if you said, “I’m a combination C / INFJ / 4-with-a-5-wing / Year of the Tiger/ Aquarius, so that means I need a 10% raise to achieve my full potential,” they’d put that much stock in it. But to devalue legitimate complaints? It’s gospel!

    1. hbc*

      Ugh, we did a management team thing where you chose from a pool of available (neutral/positive) adjectives to describe people. You then take your list of descriptors and figure out the flip-side negatives (ex: detail oriented can miss the big picture), what happens even when the positive side is too extreme (taking too long working through unimportant details), and “allergies”–what drives you nuts (quantity-over-quality people). It wasn’t a terrible activity.

      But the only noticeable outcome of this meeting was that the director would say, “Well, you know that’s one of my allergies” when he dodged a responsibility or lost his cool about something minor.

  14. JRG*

    First off, OP, thank you for the update, but I’m so confused! The ‘director’ and ‘ED’ aren’t the same person? In the first letter there was just the ED and managers. Also, no one ever addressed the original issue of the ED not speaking? Did he just start talking again? Why did you feel you could confide in him when he’s so unstable, (if that’s the right reading)? Why would the ED tell the director what you said in confidence if they’re having screaming matches in the halls? I reread this twice and the original letter and I cannot for the life of me figure out what is going on. I’m totally lost.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Ditto on all these questions. I assume director = ED and yes he just started speaking again. But I’m really lost on why the they’d be confiding in the ED and about what. Sounds a bit like the ED is now the normal-ish one and the screaming is coming from the direct manager? I dunno. Full of bees.

      1. JRG*

        I thought so too but “My director has since succumbed to the pressure and has started regular screaming matches with the ED” so unless he’s screaming at himself? OP please help us out here!

        1. Mimi*

          I think “Director” = manager.

          I’m not saying the plot is easy to follow even read like that, but I think that’s because what’s going on is extremely bonkers and doesn’t actually make much sense.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        The way I read the letter, the director and the ED are two different people (they’d have to be, otherwise the director arguing with the ED would be extra strange). The ED is essentially the CEO of the non-profit. The director is a manager, and likely the LW’s direct supervisor.

        1. Kat in Boots*

          If the ED was having screaming matches in the hallway WITH HIMSELF, I might just quit. That level of strangeness would be so concerning that I’m not sure I could do any work at the office.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Especially after a stretch speaking to No. One. If ED finally poked his head out of his hidey-hole, only to have a series of personality clashes … with himself, that would be … actually it wouldn’t really be crazier than the rest of the goings on at that place.

    2. anonymous73*

      I’m guessing the ED (Executive Director) is at the highest level of the company, since it seemed nobody would address his behavior in the first letter. And there may be multiple Directors under the ED, which is why the Director and ED are having screaming matches now. A few companies ago, our IT dept had an Ops Director and an Apps Director and they both reported to the CIO. But yes, there are important things missing in the update that were brought up in the original letter that is making this harder to follow.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      The OP commented on the original letter (with username OP with clarification*): “There are 4 directors, three of whom actively hate each other.” So there are fours directors below the Executive Director (or maybe three directors plus the Executive Director). The ‘director’ and ‘ED’ in this update are different people.

  15. DG*

    I’ve been in several school and work settings where people became obsessed with the personality test du jour and used it to get out of work and/or justify their worst qualities.

    “Well, I’m a platypus and we all know Carl’s more of a frog, so he should be responsible for sending out the meeting notes every week.”

    1. quill*

      Meyers Briggs, astrology, elemental bending – do not apply these to explain people without their consent.

    2. Nanani*

      IKR. These are all so, well, reductive.
      Scrubbing away inconvenient humanity so you can treat people as colour-coded widgets rubs me the wrong way regardless of the paint job on the coding.

  16. Littorally*

    Man, it sure is something when the oddball behavior in the original letter turns out to be merely the tip of a massive iceberg of dysfunction.

    1. Observer*

      Well, if you looked at the comments, the additional information that the OP dropped there made it pretty clear that the ED was not the whole problem by any means.

      But, yeah, a wild level of dysfunction.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think calling it a “dysfunction iceberg” is an understatement- glad OP is keeping their sense of humor and looking for something else. That place sounds exhausting.

  17. Jean*

    I hate to complain about getting an update, but this left me with a semi. Sorry OP. Best of luck getting the heck out of there.

  18. AE*

    Well that was a ride! Glad you are getting out of there, OP, and hope to see you in Friday Good News to tell us about your new job with a (hopefully) less bonkers organization.

  19. Observer*

    OP, you are probably right that you should be selective. But really, you need to be looking hard for a good a match. Because this update doesn’t really make the ED look any better. It just makes the whole situation look worse.

    Also, I would be very, very cautious around your ED. Do not tell him anything you don’t want to be repeated or that could be misused against you. The fact that your manager has starting misbehaving does not make your ED any more trustworthy or competent.

    Also, how does everyone know what happened in the meeting with the CFO. And if fraud was actually going on, why did they just tell her that “things would have to change” rather than flat out firing her? To me that’s a major signal that your board has no idea of what they are doing. Either what they found was not fraud, or she should have been walked out the door, with no chance to touch her computer or anything in the office.

  20. quill*

    Ooof. My condolences on this amateur startup bullshit. (I’m gonna keep using that phrase no matter how large the company is.

  21. The Smiling Pug*

    Yikes, this update ended up being filled with all kinds of bonkers. Glad to hear you’re job-searching, OP.

  22. Kitano*

    I’d be really curious to know whether any of the allegations against the CFO could be verified independently. It sounds a lot like the ED is scapegoating the CFO as part of their own image rehab or to disguise their own embezzling.

    Something like “Oh look, the wicked witch who was causing all of your problems is gone!! Hallelujah, aren’t I such a great leader??? Now sit down with my wife’s best friend who I’m paying to administer free online personality tests and believe me when I say it was that nasty CFO’s mismanagement causing all of our problems!!”

    It all seems a weeeeeee bit suspicious to me.

    1. quill*

      I did wonder if the CFO was being set up based on the victory luncheon. But I’m not sticking my hand into that beehive to figure out more context.

      1. Kitano*

        Victory luncheon plus hiring family friends to perform essential functions of the business plus controlling when staff can access that person’s time…the fog thickens

    2. Double A*

      Right? And like, she just came back from bereavement leave from the death of her SPOUSE. Even if she’s a crook, she deserves some sympathy. And that’s a particularly brutal time to lose a job, so I hope to heck that the allegations are true and super serious. No matter what, a lunch celebrating the departure of your recently widowed embezzling colleague is just classless.

  23. ArtK*

    Not familiar with DiSC, but it sounds just as bogus as Myers-Briggs. Lumping people into a handful of categories and then using that to predict or explain behavior is generally BS.

    1. NotBatman*

      As someone with training in psychometrics, I can say: DiSC is only 85% as bogus as MBTI! So… could be worse?

      DiSC has no predictive validity, questionable content validity, poor internal reliability, and results that bounce around based on the test-taker’s mood. The reason I’d describe it as 15% non-bogus is that it does indeed work as a good launching place for things like “some people like more small talk than others” or “people vary in their degree of emotional connection to work” or “the people who talk a lot during meetings should be made aware of their quieter coworkers.”

      MBTI is invalid *and* has no good uses, so it’s firmly in the 100% Bogus camp. But yeah, anything that sorts people into personality “types” is psychometrically questionable by definition, and at least 30% bogus.

      1. Marcina*

        Maybe these tests are not just supposedly predictive, but also causal? Because if my work forced me to take a bizillian page touchy-feely personality test, I’d *absolutely* turn into a raging C about it.

  24. Blonde Spiders*

    Did I read this correctly, in that the very day the CFO returns from bereavement leave FOR HER HUSBAND, she’s confronted? Not really a surprise that she bailed so quickly. I mean, her misdeeds aside…her husband just died!

    1. Kevin Sours*

      There really isn’t much of a choice in that situation. She’s the CFO. If there is fraud, especially fraud she’s implicated in, you have to address it. You can’t carry on business as usual leaving her to exercise the powers of that position.

      Also she was on leave for over a month so I’m not sure how much longer it makes sense to wait in any event.

      1. Vanilla Nice*

        What baffles me about it is why they had to wait for her to come back from leave to confront her. If there was verifiable evidence of fraud, the ED should have gone directly to the board to raise the alarm.

  25. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Imagine having the willpower to say to someone “you’re such a ‘D’ “. I could never.
    (I’m super skeptical of “management colored glass” and a team This Could Have Been an Email member, and this only reinforces my stance.)

  26. Thomas Merton*

    I’ve never for a second felt I could get away with acting like a child at work, and yet it seems to happen all the time.

  27. Katherine*

    Am I the only one who finds the thing with the CFO extremely suspicious? She returns from leave and is promptly forced out for “fraudulent activity” and the ED then takes everyone out to a celebratory lunch, and oh, everything was actually her fault. I just don’t buy it. The office is full of bees.

  28. the cat's ass*

    I am again astounded by the terribleness of your office, OP. Wishing you the best as you job search!

  29. That's the One*

    Ha, I’m actually delivering various levels of DiSC as part of leadership training at my organization. We try very hard to 1) remind people that it should not be used for labeling, that’s for awareness purposes when communicating, 2) there is no good or bad style and that both people any a communication situation should be trying to stretch to meet the needs of the other person. The feedback has been amazing and we hope to expand the offering, but no doubt there will be people who misuse it.
    The profiles are very in-depth and help you identify challenges and give you strategies for mitigating them. There are also pages to help you specifically communicate better with each style. It’s also not described as a personality style, but a work style as we know many people behave differently at work and home.
    Also, I know some people said they felt the results were bogus, but we have had most people take both the Workplace and Management assessments and the majority ended up with the same style for both. Those whose style changed did so only slightly (me from a CD to a DC).

  30. Imaginary Friend*

    Okay, so, workplace personality analyses are right up there with Dianetics IMO, but I still need to say that I hate that the branding has only one letter in lower-case. I get that “DiSC” is supposed to look great to marketing or the graphic designer or whatever, but (aside from everything else) it’s going to lead a lot of people to discount the people who get the “i” designation. (Which seems to be about relationship skills, which are hella coded female. As someone was saying recently, le barff.)

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