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I have been working for this huge international insurance company for four years now; Our branch is basically the IT provider for the company. I am quite vocal/assertive but never had any issue because of it during all these years. A few months ago a new CEO was appointed from the headquarters, we are in a different continent and I am an expatriate myself.

A few weeks ago I joined an internal group that is supposed to be a kind of a proxy between the top management and the employees. This, of course, was created by the company with the purpose of facilitating organizational changes (cascading down the information) and also to collect employees feedback (regarding the changes but also to raise employees concerns). All of my coworkers and the existing members of the group were very happy about me joining it because they know I am not afraid of speaking out and because they know I would make their voices heard (local culture is a lot about avoiding conflicts).

I have personally raised a couple of small topics which were raised to me by my peers, nothing really sensitive that would make the management angry. Of course, I have always been very polite but clear when raising those issues.

The HR department has been a mess for a long time, even now while is being lead by a woman also appointed from the HQ. Yesterday all seven of them handed their resignation letters and complained directly to the big boss in the HQ, alleging too much pressure from my department and from another one. I was told by my line manager to not push them. HR related topics are very critical at this point since a lot of people left the company and we need to cover a lot of positions and we seem to be unable to do so. HR even complained to my line manager about us rejecting too many candidates (sometimes we don't even receive candidates with the skills we are looking for...).

Today my line manager told me that the CEO is getting angry about this proxy group and that I should slow down. The only reason I can think of is a videoconference we had with this group leader in the HQ where he asked for several questions and we were very sincere on our answers. I suspect that our CEO didn't take it very well.

I think I am probably being too naive (and/or too black and white) but my mind works like this: If you create a group that should raise employees concerns and feedback then you should be able to digest that feedback. My feeling is that all this is just smoke and mirrors, you just created the group for the gallery but you just don't accept being challenged, you just want to hear positive feedback. I don't think this is the way it works...

So now I am thinking about quitting this group and focusing on the work I am getting paid for. All this whole situation made me so angry that I am even starting to look for a new job since now I get the feeling that all the changes which will come from this CEO will be for the worse.

I put a lot of personal time and effort on this group during these weeks, trying to improve things for the employees which I believe will improve things for the company and help reducing the turnover/attrition and it feels like all this is not only not being appreciated but I am being retaliated against.

Any advice or suggestions?

PS: answering to @joe since I can't yet comment, I tried to put it in the most objective way possible but, of course, this is my personal feeling (there is always the possibility of me being completely biased or detached from reality). What I feel is that I should run away as fast as possible since all this looks like a turn for worse instead of better.

PPS: answering to @jim comment, yes they all played a bluff. From what I know the pressure from our department that they referred to is: asking them how are they going to protect our annual health check up records (by local law they have to keep them for 2 years [we recently had an online training about data privacy because of EU law changes]), asking them how could we do to get the new joiners laptop in the morning instead of at 2pm (not even a HR topic but they took it personally). The other department (finance) complain was because they were told there was no budget for another recruiter. BTW our branch is less than 400 people and have these 7 HR members.

closed as unclear what you're asking by gnat, DarkCygnus, Elmy, mcknz, The Wandering Dev Manager Aug 28 '18 at 13:41

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    Wait, the entire HR department turned in their resignations on the same day? There is something major going on that isn't clear in your description. Why did they all resign? What did you mean by "too much pressure from my department and from another one"? – Jim Clay Aug 24 '18 at 15:27
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    @momo yes you can comment. Click on the "suggest improvements" thing on the bottom of these comments – DarkCygnus Aug 24 '18 at 21:20
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So here's the deal. I could have written this exact post from my own personal experience in a nearly identical situation.

You are likely working with a group that has a very different expectation around group dynamics than you do and that is going to raise a lot of friction if you don't address it. Which it seems it has.

As a technical person (and given your Stack Overflow profile you are), you end up in situations where being "right" in code review or otherwise disagree in a more objective fashion. This isn't true for many people.

Your language here suggests you are interacting with this group similar to how you interact with other engineers. This may not be the way that group prefers to work.

So now I am thinking about quitting this group and focusing on the work I am getting paid for.

I highly recommend this. You are playing with fire here by continuing to engage in this process, when it is clearly going poorly. The CEO getting involved is not a small situation.

Do that. Focus on your work and accept you may not be able to change the entire company culture or the culture of another team you aren't at all part of.

All this whole situation made me so angry that I am even starting to look for a new job since now I get the feeling that all the changes which will come from this CEO will be for the worse.

Ultimately you need to decide if this is a hill worth dying on, as the phrase goes. Is this something you want to fight continuously as an uphill battle?

Very likely, no, because you will burn out, get frustrated, and eventually leave anyways.

  • Any suggestions from the downvoter would be appreciated. – enderland Aug 24 '18 at 17:30
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My feeling is that all this is just smoke and mirrors, you just created the group for the gallery but you just don't accept being challenged, you just want to hear positive feedback.

Any advice or suggestions?

You have a right to your opinion, but sharing it "vocally" and "assertively" isn't always appreciated in every corporate setting.

The message seems clear - this company does not value your being too vocal or assertive.

Either you can learn to control yourself and tone that down, or you need to seek employment elsewhere. If you choose the latter, probe hard before accepting a new position. Make sure your vocality and assertiveness will be appreciated.

  • Thanks for the answer. I get your point but (unfortunately?) I don't believe in suppressing my personality. When I say that I am very vocal I just mean that; I am not in any way rude just go straight to the point without wasting time playing games. I think you are very right about the company not valuing assertiveness so I don't see any point on staying in said group, specially if I can't be myself. – momo Aug 25 '18 at 9:33
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    @momo I actually think the most wise is leaving the "feedback" group. – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 25 '18 at 15:48
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This situation is highly frustrating and I've been in a company that acted like that.

My insight was:

  • The proxy group was genuinly concerned with the wellbeing of employees and rised concerns to the managers

  • Each and every manager was so convinced that whatever they did was the best solution for the company. Their only concern is profit. They perceived the concerns raised by the proxy group as an obstacle to their goals.

  • Things got very personal very fast.

Since a lot of answers covered the easy solution to basicly tone it down and let management do whatever they want, I want to suggest an alternative that feels less like giving up.

Point out that you are not acting on personal incentive but on behalf of all employees. Stay very objective in your statements. Play their game by their rules, but don't forget your own goals. Use phrases like

A 60% mayority of employees report that (bad organizational practice) causes them constant stress, impacting their overall work performance and health situation.

It's been brought to my attention that the air quality / lights / noisy environment has negative effects on the work performance of employees / teams. Improvements in those aspects could result in higher performance and less errors done due to distraction.

To increase the productivity of new employees it would be beneficial to receive their designated laptops at an earlier time. As of today, a second employee is kept from their own work for X hours to tutor the newcommer until the laptop arives.

  • Thanks for the different approach answer. Sadly I could never play their games because I would feel like I betrayed myself (and probably the people who put their trust on me). – momo Aug 25 '18 at 9:44
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I think I am probably being too naive (and/or too black and white) but my mind works like this: If you create a group that should raise employees concerns and feedback then you should be able to digest that feedback. My feeling is that all this is just smoke and mirrors, you just created the group for the gallery but you just don't accept being challenged, you just want to hear positive feedback. I don't think this is the way it works...

It happens in so many companies.

CEOs and other "higher-ups" love to think about themselves as open-minded and modern. They want to believe they listen to other people and are open to good ideas that aren't their own.

In reality, there is hardly anybody who actually is like this.

Actually the current obsession with "the right cultural fit" makes it even harder. The expectation is you won't question things, you will love things how they are. If you do question things, you're not a right cultural fit and should be fired. I've just overheard a conversation about it at my own company. They really formulated it like this. It was unbelievable. After telling us at every meeting we should voice concerns.

If I were you I would actually quit the group and try to learn to treat a job as a job. Draw your sense of happiness from other sources.

If you stayed in your role and started to accept things, this would mean you are legitimising the CEO's decisions. The CEO would be able to say "We've consulted the decisions with [your team]". Personally, I would perceive it as a total no-go. You should think over whether you would be ok with being instrumentalised like that.

To be honest, a group "facilitating organizational changes" sounds actually like a group created in order to justify CEO's decisions, so it was probably their goal from the very beginning.

Btw, in some countries, e.g. in Germany the group of people who have been selected to play the role of "a proxy between the top management and the employees" are very difficult to be fired - they enjoy a special protection by law. As you now learn, there's a reason why they need this special work security.

  • Thanks, I think you hit the nail here. Sometimes I wonder if I didn't learn anything during my life heh. I definitely know the way the world and the corporate one work but I still believe that things shouldn't be that way, it is just frustrating... At then end of the day, happy employees will be less likely to quit and more likely to be more productive, it sounds like a win-win situation to me. – momo Aug 25 '18 at 9:40

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