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Killing the Messenger

15 January, 2016 - 09:29

Where organizations no longer function, inevitably some employees are unhappy. If they call attention to problems that are being covered up by coworkers or supervisors, they bring bad news. Managers like to hear good news and discourage bad news. Intentionally or not, those who told on others, or blew the whistle, have rocked the boat and become unpopular with those whose defalcations they report on and with the managers who don’t really want to hear the bad news. In many organizations, “killing the messenger” solves the problem. Consider James Alexander at Enron Corporation, who was deliberately shut out after bringing problems to CEO Ken Lay’s attention. 1 When Sherron Watkins sent Ken Lay a letter warning him about Enron’s accounting practices, CFO Andrew Fastow tried to fire her. 2