Readers react to snide sniper and gender articles

Dear Joan:

Regarding your recent article, Tips for dealing with coworker’s snide comments, regarding comments made by one co-worker to another, in front of someone else, I've found that -- after discussion with the supervisor to OK it -- direct confrontation at the "scene of the crime" is critical.  

This new employee is trying to do damage in front of people to make himself look better in their eyes (bullying). Big mistake. I advise our staff to ask pointedly, at the time it happens, exactly what the person means, whether it's some sort of jab, or if it's meant hurtfully, or if there is some specific reason that sort of thing is coming out of their mouth at that particular time.  

Pointing out -- in public- - that that kind of thing is hurtful and not based in reality, and asking for a public apology, will shut this guy down for good. I'd advise her to ask him, in front of these other people, what specific problem he has with her. She should use a nice tone of voice and be sincere. Perhaps something like, "Frank, you seem to have some issues with the way I do my work and you also seem to want to bring those issues to a public forum instead of coming to me privately with them. Perhaps you would be good enough to tell me - in front of these people - what those issues are. I'd like to know so that, if they are really a problem, we can all discuss them and find a way to deal with them.  

If this is just your idea of being funny, however, I'd like you to apologize to me for damaging my reputation in front of my co-workers and explain to me and to them why you would say such deliberately hurtful things if they're not true." That should rock Frank (or whomever) back on his heels and clear the air. Again, I stress that the tone and attitude shouldn't be angry or accusatory (that feeds the fire), but should clear the air and help her reputation since she wants to solve the problem instead of it escalating. Bullies are becoming more common. Shining a light on them is a good thing. If he's saying these things in front of her, then what is he saying behind her back? 

We had a bully here that was doing that sort of thing. We gave her an assignment: do a training session on the negative effects of bullying in the workplace. At the end, we had her do a Q&A. One of the staff asked her if she saw herself in that model. She's been a lot better since. 


I think this is good advice but I’d only use it if a private confrontation failed to stop his public comments.   

Dear Joan:

In response to your recent article, Can your gender affect your promotability, I felt that the discussion deemphasized the value of employees who are well suited for their current position.  This article seems to be less about gender and more about the relative success of a person who becomes a manger vs. one who does not, suggesting  that in order to be successful you need to be promoted and that characteristics typically associated with motherhood are undesirable for promotion and thus success.   

I understand that the focus of the article is "promotablity" but I felt that the distinction between promotability, and promotability to management, was not made.  Promotion from an assistant role to a managerial role is a very different than going from one level assistant role to the next step on the ladder (Associate I to Associate II for example).

As a research director, I manage several employees who execute highly technical tasks (the majority of whom are woman, myself being male).  I have employees who are very good at managing teams and some who are not.

However, my most valuable assets are not necessarily the team mangers.  In fact the employees I trust most and who have the most job security (one measure of success) under me are the ones with exactly the traits you listed in your response as obstacles to promotion.

I find myself constantly looking for ways to acknowledge them and have promoted them within their track which changes their "level" but not their job function or reporting structure.   These employees have greatly contributed to my success over the years and as such they have made many gains in salary/benefits/title despite having essential the same job.  Others have left my group to take what might be classified as promotion but have not necessary been as successful.  In fact in one particular case a woman who was performing well under me took on a managerial role with greater visibility and ultimately lost her job since management was not the right area for her.    

I certainly agree that some traits that are often associated with motherhood may hamper advancement to a managerial role in some cases since these traits can also be interpreted as supportive and not those of an independent manager.  However, having these traits and the proactive nature of a manager in my mind would be no obstacle at all to an employee seeking the manager track.  In fact this proverbial "super mom" is the ideal manager in any organization, and I'm sure most of us have seen a few along the way.   It is also important to note that being a manager doesn't mean you a more important, more valuable, or more successful in your career.


Thanks for the opportunity to clear up any misperception. I agree that highly technical performers should be rewarded on the job, rather than promoted into managerial ranks if they are not suited to it. (The column was in answer to a person who wanted to be promoted but was working like a dog to cover up for a slacker boss.) 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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