My colleagues suck up to new CEO during first team meeting


The  dynamics in the office have changed now that the new CEO is in charge.   He said he does not like to be referred to as Boss or CEO and asked us to call him Coach. Initially, I was not sure what to make of this since I had gotten used to calling our former CEO by his name, but I guess it is up to us to learn his management style.

Speaking of management style, I have already noticed a change in some of the managers as they develop a new way of working with the  Coach. Two days ago, we had a team meeting to discuss the year’s priorities.  Coach was not very happy with us  as he said, “it is clear that we did not have a good 2016 and maybe we used some creative reporting to try and impress the board.”

He could see that all of us were uncomfortable with this line and added, “no, I am not saying you did some Enron kind of stuff! All I am saying is that you were extremely clever in how you ensured that you closed the year with some good numbers.”  I chuckled internally because I could remember long conversations and debates at the end of the year on what to accrue, provide for all to ensure that we got to the finish line in some decent shape. 

I think Coach expected one of us to comment or offer some view because he scanned the entire room. However, no one spoke up because we all understood that in doing so, we would be betraying our former CEO.

So after a while, after he had figured that he was not getting anything out of us, he said, “2016 is now in the past! We have the opportunity to create a new chapter and write a different narrative together.” He then used a flip chart to illustrate what he said are, “our pain points and things we need to focus on.” This was followed by an hour-long session where he said, “critique my view, share your thoughts.”

First move

In the first two minutes every one was rather quiet, I guess trying to figure out who would make the first move. I could not believe it when the HR manager, who has been the  most vocal opponent  of Coach raised  her hand and said, “I have some ideas.” What shocked me even more is that she proceeded to read from her notebook. It seemed that she had actually prepared a long list  of ideas which she was keen to share.

Some of her ideas were okay, but most were rather mundane and sounded more like attempts to please the CEO, sorry, Coach.  Her comments paved the way for the other managers to chime in with their ideas though  in my view I felt like those were all attempts at sucking up to the CEO.  At the close of the hour, Coach seemed quite pleased with himself as he proceeded to praise us, “for displaying such enthusiasm and engagement.”

He proceeded to talk for another 10 minutes letting us know about his “open-door policy and  his belief that we can only succeed together as a team.” We exited the meeting room, but  not before I noticed that two managers had remained behind, I am sure to do their own sucking up.

I was just settling into continuing with  my work when the HR manager walked into my office saying, “What is wrong with you! You want to commit career suicide!” I was taken aback by her words and said, “what are you talking about?”

She said, “you remained completely mute during the meeting,  you had nothing to contribute!”

I told her, “but well that does not matter, you know that guys say you are the former CEO’s blue-eyed boy so you need to show that you are now ready to work with Coach.”

Talk about mixed signals. This is the same lady who had been giving us grief about the character of the new CEO and here she was asking me to suck up to him. Wonders never cease! I am lost for words.