Twice this week, in case studies, one in my own life, I have seen examples of Corporate Toxic Ignorance at a local level.
Case 1 – A local Councillor
We held a meeting with this chap, who was obviously diametrically opposed to a friends proposal requiring planning permission, in his constituency. Nobody else in my friends community objects to this, even the parish council supported him.
We didn’t know the councillor was so opposed when the meeting was booked, but at the meeting it became obvious that he was absolutely hostile to the fact that people like us, just want to enjoy our hobbies in our own back yards, without interference from our neighbours. He was opposed, despite planning law being fairly explicit as to what is allowed.
After the meeting we began to politely email him to thank him for attending and to ensure he had noted our friends requirements but from the point he left the meeting he began to act against the proposal – using his considerable power as a member of the city councils planning committee to sabotage the application. The decision was removed from the hands of a planning officer and tactically diverted into a planning committee meeting where the councillor could debate it, rather than risk it being approved by a planning officer.
FFS councillor, this is a seventy eight year old man who just wants people to stop interfering with his livelihood.
Recorded in the minutes of a planning committee meeting, is the councillor saying the following, without mentioning what the outcome or content we provided was or mentioning our views:
Simply “Councillor Xxxx-Xxxxx made a voluntary announcement that he had met the applicant at his property and had also met the speaker (me) from whom he had received considerable correspondence which had been passed to the Planning Officer. Councillor Xxxx-Xxxxx indicated that he had not in any way pre-judged the application.)”
Well he did as our account of the meeting and his emails show.
NB. Normal behaviour by any standard says that he should have let the planning officer do his job.
At the committee meeting the councillor had the opportunity to withdraw from the planning meeting but instead he led the discussion that ultimately saw nine out of ten vote to refuse planning permission, forcing my friend into a planning appeal. (which is final).
(The same councillor wrote in the local press after the planning committee meeting how he had discarded the joint opinions of several thousand petitioners on the topic. Toxic People love to brag and seldom let you live and let live, once you challenge them.) They are not there to let you live and let live but are controlling instead.
Case 2 – A Regimental Association
The author is a progressive person and sees change as part of life – he has been running a branch of a national regimental association for several years and it is not without problems, one of which is a dwindling and ageing membership – approx twenty people paying very small subscriptions when there is a market of a few thousand potential members. Something obviously needs to change.
What we did
We took the problems to our branch membership and noted their requirements for change, to put to the Regimental association. They were doing similar studies but had so far left our group out.
Before we did all this work we had attended the annual general meeting (AGM) of the association twice, and its sub committees a few times so were sure we were on the right track. (not so apparently – see later).
At the 2017 AGM We were impressed that the general at the head of the organisation had asked for suggestions that could be included in the associations forthcoming strategy in 2017. The green light was on.
What happened Next?
When we submitted our short, presentable, easy to read documents to the hierarchy, they were rejected out of hand so quickly, and in such a way that it was as though it hadn’t been read. I challenged that but it was clear to me then that the hierarchy of the association didn’t like what we (the signatories to our proposal) had said. Needless to say our suggestion never got to the general. (Well not with our name on it anyway). At this point I let our committee know and resigned my position. The options weren’t acceptable. I would never accept a position in an organisation with a toxic leadership and without a plan or opportunities to develop.
As the branch has opportunities to report any issues it has once a year before the AGM, you would think the next time this came up it would be debated as a fundamental problem, especially as our chairman had discussed the issues with with the president who attended the meeting. Not likely. We had to fight for a copy of the minutes of the meeting which simply said “Each branch gave a very good update on their current membership and highlighted key points to the Group Director. Copies of branch reports can be requested through the Group Secretary.” In an email the president said the group meeting was not an appropriate forum for the discussion.
Toxic People don’t believe in your right to freedom of expression and will do their best to assert their own personality into any situation. They claim your good ideas as theirs or assert their own will without considering your ideas no matter how good they are. If they don’t like what they hear for any reason, (Jealousy or envy for example) they will suppress it.
If you work for a toxic boss who employs a spin doctor then expect stress. Here’s a link.