When she quit to go be the head of some other poor company's HR department, all us non VP types breathed a sigh of relief and made a mental note to never go work for her new company.
Why does this go on?
Well, allow me to pull some information from another field--education. In Playground Heroes Ken Rigby, Ph.D. and Bruce Johnson, Ph.D. argue that it is not the teachers who can stop bullying. Why?
School authorities are commonly unaware of what is going on. This is not to blame them. It is simply to recognize that bullying goes on in the company of peers and rarely in the company of teachers. Children see it happening, but the teachers do not. Only occasionally do students tell.
Did I ever call up the Sr VP and say, "this lady is a nightmare"? No, I didn't. Neither did any of my peers--or my boss. Could it be that they were fully unaware?
Is the business world just like a playground? I certainly can see the logic in arguing that. The study's authors do give another reason for failure to stop bullying--and a solution as well: Having the bully's peers disapprove.
On those rare occasions when a witness does object to bullying, there is a good chance that the bullying will stop. Indeed, several researchers have reported that bystander objections effectively discourage bullying at least half the time.
I'm looking back to the meetings where I and others were screamed at. What would have happened if, rather than biting our tongues we'd said, "Excuse me, but you're not acting appropriately. If you have a problem with these numbers/report/programs, let's talk about it, but if you are going to scream we're going to leave."
Because I believed that Sr. Management was aware and would have supported her, I kept my mouth shut and took the abuse. But perhaps, like teachers over bullies, they were unaware and perhaps would have responded if we had stood up to her.
(Via Joanne Jacobs.)