The Employee Engagement Network

Monica thought Grace was the worst boss she ever worked for. Grace bullied and berated Monica at every opportunity. Monica only talked about this with her husband. He was tired of her tirades. Grace thought Monica was incompetent. Results were plummeting and office morale was sinking as their relationship deteriorated.


Please respond to this case in 50 words or less. Make your response concise. Don't try to cover it all rather write your "lean" essential response. You are free to take this any direction.


Here are some questions to stimulate your thinking.

  • What could Grace change?
  • What will this do to overall engagement?
  • Who is responsible to make this different?
  • What do you think Monica should do next?


A collection of responses will be published in our second case study e-book. To be included, your response must be 50 words or less.


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Monica and Grace must seek to understand each other prespective.. Anyone can initiate.. Monica must seek for specific feedback and look for her improvement areas. She must convey Grace that she is equally respected individual so should be treated well. Grace needs to act like human being.

Its important for both of them to disengage from petty differences and look for targets for success.


I believe this is the point when Grace's well intentioned boss shows up with coffee and donuts to try to raise office moral and improve results. 

Grace could change here approach on how she gives Monica feedback. Most managers have good intentions when they give their subordinates feedback on their work however, because Monica perceives Grace feedback as being negative, it’s up to Grace to align Monica perception with her intention in which I believe is to help her perform better at work.


I appreciate the range of responses and how much 50 words can bring out in perspectives and suggestions. Thanks to each of your for participating and we will take one more week of replies and then transform this into our second 50 word case study e-book.

Monica should talk to Grace instead of her husband! And Grace should take time to listen to Monica. If things don't work out,  one of them can find another job or would be forced to find another job :-)

Monica should look at the root of the bullying, see if any truth to it.  If there is, grow on, make changes if not against her values.  If against, change jobs or learn communication strategies to stand up to the bullying.  Most bullies project their own troubles on accepting others.

First, Monica should have a conversation with Grace with specific instances of her bullying and discuss what is wrong and how they can establish a more positive relationship. If this doesn't work, Monica should ask HR for advice and help. If productivity is falling, this is a company problem, too.

Leadership is certainly lacking in this situation; an opportunity for reflection to develop an action plan could turn this situation around.  Grace ultimately was responsible for this relationship so she took time to reflect how to improve her leadership. Grace reached out to Monica to begin their one on ones.

Grace and Monica are both enabling the concerns they feel aggrieved about.  They both must demonstrate the courage to be honest about what they are feeling and have a shared responsibility to change their behavior based on what they hear from each other.

This is a leadership issue that must be addressed from the level above Grace.  Corporate Culture and the tolerance for abuse begins at the top.  If this behavior is tolerated within this organization looking for another place to work is her best bet.  If this is abnormal for the organization the Monica can start by finding some common ground with Grace as as place to initiate a dialogue on working together better. An outside facilitator (HR, Senior Manager or Consultant) will increase the chances of success.

Grace needs to manage Monica, setting clear objectives, behaviours and outcomes. An apology wouldn't go amiss.

Monica needs to change her mindset and take responsibility for her relationship with her boss.. honest but unemotional communication to reset the patterns. Involve someone else (eg HR) if she can't do this alone.

This end the entries for our 50 word case study E-book scheduled to be released on May 10, 2012. You can still make entries on this forum and thanks to all who did and all who will.


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