Bullying bosses get corporate comeuppance

Cruel execs intimidate and demean employees at highly regarded company -- until their bad behavior hits the bottom line

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I waited a couple more minutes before opening the door, still processing what I'd just heard. In the hall, I saw a woman from marketing literally in tears. It was the first time I'd seen somebody cry on the job. She quit about a month later.

Little by little, I heard and witnessed more of these situations. The co-owners and some senior managers would loudly belittle subordinates if they made even a small mistake or if their work wasn't up to "standards." Every project created by one designer was rejected -- to me, a consumer, they seemed just fine -- and he was told to start over. To another employee, an owner suggested in a snide way that he find another job. The list went on.

I told myself if they ever yelled at me or treated me in such a manner that I'd quit on the spot. The pay was good, I enjoyed the work I was doing, and having experience at the company would look great on a resume -- but none of it was worth that kind of treatment. Somehow, I was never on the receiving end of these incidents. I ended up staying for another year.

Why did I leave? The company, surprisingly, ran into funding issues caused in part by its own bad behavior.

The company had expanded aggressively, and more capital was needed to get the products made and sold. It was a privately held company, and the co-owners went to a few sources to procure funding. Their products sold well, so there was no apparent reason they wouldn't be able to land a line of credit.

They were wrong. The bankers asked questions and found out the company had a shockingly high employee turnover rate, with many leaving after less than a year of employment, others after one quarter, and still others even less. Of the three different bankers the owners approached, none would give them the loan.

The company eventually declared bankruptcy, and I jumped ship immediately. Less than six months later, the company folded and its remaining assets were bought by a competitor. Their products still exist as a line from the former rival.

What goes around does -- sometimes -- come around, at least to some degree.

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