It’s a lot easier to embarrass one’s boss than it used to be. You can thank the now dreaded internal leak for that. What was once reserved for water cooler gripe sessions, collective bargaining and, if things went really sour, lawsuits and national media coverage is now instantly public and brutally humiliating.
In Silicon Valley all corporate leaks are referred to Valleywag, where they live in infamy. It was there Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk’s “digital witch hunt” was chronicled and the practice of employee entrapment was given light. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg subsequently emulated Musk, also sending out specially encrypted emails—messages with slight alterations in the text: “I am” versus “I’m,” etc.—to identify employees leaking news indicating Zuckerberg’s totalitarian management style as the chief catalyst for mass executive exoduses.
Newly appointed Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz pleaded with her staff to tighten their lips about what was going on inside the company before reportedly going all Chuck Norris and threatening “to drop-kick to f**ing Mars” press-friendly employees.
Unfortunately for all the executives mentioned, employees just widened the information funnel.
The most recent and humorous target of employee retaliation is John Soden III, a managing director at San Francisco based investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners. An email from Soden to “everyone below the MD level” saying that unless they were “an orthodox something” they should get their butts back to the office on Good Friday and that they should get jobs as tellers if they want bank holidays.
Soden probably didn’t anticipate his whip-cracking would end up on Valleywag, nor, probably, did he think his detractors would set up a spoof Twitter account, where the Fake John Soden bemoans how only one person worked all night, thinks sushi is Chinese food, and yanks employees out of mosques during working hours.
Some managers probably yearn for the pre-digital culture days when crudely drawn cartoons popped up in break rooms and employee bathrooms.