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Furious Tempers

#1 Furious Tempers
22/02/2010 11:01

Junior Consultant

It has been said that Gordon Brown has a furious temper and leaves his junior staff feeling terrified.

What has been your experience of senior staff in consulting firms? Are they aggressive bullies? Do they leave you feeling terrified? Please give examples if appropriate.

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#2 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 10:04

Mr Cool to Junior Consultant (#1)

Only ever met one proper bully and like all bullies he crumpled when stood up to.

You know who you are Simon, you weasel!

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#3 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 10:07

Junior Consultant to Mr Cool (#2)

Do bullies really crumple when stood up to? My experience has been that they usually have a very firm power base and pick on those who are weaker and unable to win a showdown.

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#4 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 11:52

Mars A Day to Junior Consultant (#1)

I can see an opportunity could be wasted here Junior Consultant. Examples of bullying behaviour are less useful that a broader discussion on how to repond to it.

Ironically one of the good things to come from GB's behaviour is that suddenly the stigma of standing up and saying that this behaviour is totally unacceptable has gone.

Let's have a positive thread on this topic - a lot of people could benefit from it.

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#5 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 12:20

Mr Cool to Junior Consultant (#3)

They do if they are bluffing and you call their bluff in a calm and calculated way (with a bit of planning).

But it does depend on what you mean by a bully.

If a partner tells a team to work the weekend in order to make up for his inability to sell a reasonable time to complete a piece of work - is that bullying?

Or is that part and parcel of the consulting world that we've volunteered to work in?

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#6 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 12:57

Junior Consultant to Mr Cool (#5)

Hello Mr Cool I think it would be bullying if your hours of employment did not include weekends and you were scared that you would be treated unfavourably if you chose to work at the weekend to make up for the big partner's shortcomings.

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#7 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 13:37

DCF to Junior Consultant (#6)

Umm... I don' think many people's contracts include weekends but there's usually some catch-all about being prepared to work additional hours as and when required or whatever. So your hours of work probably do include weekends from time to time.

In this environment it's not really optional and it's not bullying, unless they've got you in repeatedly and unnecessarily I suppose.

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#8 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 14:00

Junior Consultant to DCF (#7)

Yes but don't you think it shows a lack of respect for the individual and their personal commitments and circumstances if they haven't entered into a contract to work at weekends yet they receive unfavourable treatment if they choose not to do so just because of a partner's shortcomings. Obviously if their contract says they are required to go the extra mile from time to time then that's fine, but when it is expected as part of the normal routine (with penalties applied to the individual if they do not do so) then in my opinion that would be bullying.

I think it would also be similar to a contract that states normal hours of employment as being 9-6 and the individual then being treated unfavourably if they do actually choose to go home at 6pm most days. It would also especially be bullying in my opinion (not to mention unlawful) if the individual was routinely being required by his/her boss to work in breach of the EU working time directive even though their contract of employment states a 40 hour week only.

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#9 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 14:40

DCF to Junior Consultant (#8)

Well good luck... might be worth considering opportunities in local government

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#10 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 14:57

Bullyspotter to DCF (#9)

Interesting attitude, DCF.

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#11 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 15:06

Mars A Day to Junior Consultant (#8)

I think being made to work beyond the EU directive on working hours would be a breach of health and safety rather than bullying per se - and possibly a breach of the covenants of trust and fairness enshrined in a contract.

Interesting article in Times 2 today on bullying.

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#12 RE: Furious Tempers
23/02/2010 15:22

DCF to Mars A Day (#11)

Isn't there usually an opt-out from the Working Time Directive to be signed when you sign your contract? Problem is, it isn't that restrictive in the first place - because of the way the hours are averaged out you have to be doing longish hours over a fairly sustained period before being in breach. You are more likely to fall foul of the minimum rest periods etc if they expect you back in earlyish after a late night.

As for "Bullyspotter", I'm the last one to supprt working long hours and certainly don't go for this sort of macho / masochistic culture you sometimes encounter. However, being realistic, you will in this job encounter pressure to work late and on weekends, and it is likely to be a bit career-limiting if you refuse, especially if others have to take up the slack. I know as well as anybody how annoying it is when your personal time gets used up by someone's inability to plan but you have to grapple with that as best you can.

Junior consultant comes across as a little naive in this respect.

Despite the occasional winges about pay and the tendency to compare ourselves to lawyers and bankers, we do get paid more than average and I'd struggle to think of a job that pays well but doesn't want something extra in return - in hours as well as skill, responsibility etc.

It's clearly a question of striking the balance - if you're getting flogged to death you may as well go and work for a bank or whatever and get paid properly for it. But you may end up disappointed if you think you can stick to a 9-5/ 9-6.

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#13 RE: Furious Tempers
25/02/2010 14:39

someguy to DCF (#12)

I do not believe the working weekends example can be considered bullying - it is part and parcel of our industry; if you want to banish (occasional) weekend work then you should also be prepared to forgo the bench.

I however do not think there is ever an excuse to verbally or physically abuse someone at work, ever. I have seen partners "lose their rag" and engage in unacceptable behaviour when a project goes south. In those cases, "standing up" to them in the manner described by Mr Cool could indeed impact your career and I suspect that is why a bullying hotline is needed.

Most large firms have an anonymous HR line that serves the same purpose, the idea being that the severe cases get assigned to someone completely outside the project / business area and treated objectively.

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#14 RE: Furious Tempers
25/02/2010 16:15

Mr Cool to someguy (#13)

Bullying – definitely not a flippant topic. I’ve seen colleagues close to nervous breakdowns, divorce and heart attacks, so I’m not being off-hand or blasé when I suggest standing up to bullies.

In the alpha-male, testosterone fuelled world of the MC (particularly big4 and MBB) it is inevitable that you will be “bullied” at some point. Sometimes it will make sense take the cr@p in the short term, where it’s more to do with working culture than being singled out for unfair treatment. To survive and flourish in this environment one must be pragmatic and it may be best to simply migrate out of the sphere of influence of the source of the temporary pain, by moving project or identifying a mentor who can shield you.

However, genuine bullying does occur and it makes sense to stand up to it, and to do so collectively – they key being that you must be in the right. Consistently being told to do your work again, is not bullying if the work happens to be garbage! The outcome of your complaint will depend on the moral strength of your firm. Some will be genuinely aghast and will see your strength as a sign of leadership. Others will pay lip service to your complaint while silently adding an invisible black mark to your record.

Personally I would not wish to work in an environment where the latter occurred. I am sure I would recognise it and I would, as soon as was practical, organise alternative employment. I will only enjoy one life and I do not plan to live any part of it cowering servitude.

CUE: music from Braveheart, blah, blah, blah (yeah, I know, but seriously – one life – I’m not wasting it being shouted at by some fat balding geezer with a house in the Bahamas, a Ferrari and a trophy wife).

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#15 RE: Furious Tempers
26/02/2010 00:24

fb to Mr Cool (#14)

alpha-male, testosterone fuelled world of MC?? I worked in a MBB consulting for 3+ yrs and know lots of consultants. I cannot think of anybody who I would describe as an alpha-male.

More like private school educated liberal art students in blazers. I struggle to imagine how one of them having an 'furious outburst', would be anything but comical.

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#16 RE: Furious Tempers
26/02/2010 07:44

anon to fb (#15)

hmm, i've seen a few of those short, nerdy MBA school types blow up and it's not funny. they usually have 25+ years of bullying pent up inside them and don't know how to vent anger without going OTT. usually when this happens you realise why they were bullied at school, as they seem to have a deep set personality flaw that even young kids can pick up on. it's not funny being a 23 year old junior analyst when you're being screamed at by some 5'4" 35 year old geek with no social skills at the top of his voice in front of a partner's office and all of your peers.

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#17 RE: Furious Tempers
26/02/2010 23:31

Recovered victim to anon (#16)

i was bullied at an organisation that features often on this forum and my health suffered.

i don't want to go into all the details but in the end no-one at all helped - certainly not top management- and the only relief came when I got out. Good luck to anyone who is facing this problem and as one poster has said - life is too short so if the odds are stacked against you as they often are still - and you are not sure you have the mental strength left to fight it - then just get away from it as soon as you can. And never forget - you are NOT to blame for the bully's behaviour!

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