People tell me things.

They tell me what happens at work. The difficult situations that come up with managers, mostly.

Take, for example, a big healthcare organization. A doctor is in charge of an internal program but has no expertise in it, so naturally she micromanages the person hired to run it. The person shares concerns with a mentor, an executive of the organization, who has seen and heard of the personnel problems caused by the doctor. The executive shares the feedback with the executive vice president of human resources and asks that the employee’s name be left out. The executive vice president tells the vice president of human resources to go fix it.

Are you still with me? The vice president of human resources goes straight to the doctor, tells her what the employee said and who it was. The doctor denies everything and blames the employee. The employee is scolded.

What is wrong with this picture? Besides everything?

Obviously I didn’t witness everything that was said or done. But this is a common problem in organizations. Someone in charge hears something that sounds like a problem, gets upset, issues a directive, doesn’t listen to the person with the actual concern, the wrong details are shared, and heads roll.

You might ask, so what? That’s corporate America.

Here’s the what: It causes employees to keep problems to themselves. Bad behavior in leadership roles is condoned. If no one can share feedback without retaliation, problems aren’t resolved. HR should be the partner, the safety net, yet this kind of behavior makes them the enemy instead.

The doctor in this scenario is a nightmare and everyone seems to know it, yet she is untouchable. Maybe she’s the most brilliant doctor on the planet. But often top leadership fails to act because that one person produces something special – never mind that that one person also causes problems throughout the organization. Shame on the leadership that allows that to happen. There is a cost to low morale, turnover, work slow downs, unresolved problems, and wasted time. And it’s just bad business.

Just because one person complains about something doesn’t mean a policy has to be put into place or action taken. But when leadership doesn’t see or act upon the patterns of complaints, especially about the managers in their organization, they are themselves obstacles to good performance and positive morale. And folks, if the people leading are standing in the way of good results, why is the organization paying them?

So, CEOs, please set expectations with your leaders. Train them to give helpful feedback and solve problems. Listen to what your employees are saying even if you don’t like it. Have agreements about how problems will be solved from level to level. Facilitate conversations to put the right structures in place so things work smoothly and you get the results you need. That’s why you’re in business, right? To get results, not to make sure bad managers get to keep their jobs.

I can help you with this.