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Bullying as management

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Using abuse as a coaching/management tactic is hardly limited to the world of sports. This Zoe Schiffer story about the luggage company Away provides the latest example from the startup world:

Employees were asked to work exceedingly long hours and limit their paid time off. Their projects were brutally criticized by executives on public Slack channels. They were reprimanded for not answering messages immediately — even late at night and on weekends.

The cutthroat culture allowed the company to grow at hyperspeed, developing a cult following with celebrities and millennials alike. But it also opened a yawning gap between how Away appears to its customers and what it’s like to actually work there. The result is a brand consumers love, a company culture people fear, and a cadre of former employees who feel burned out and coerced into silence.

“They prey on people who were never cool like me,” Caroline says. “It’s a cult brand, and you get sucked into the cool factor. Because of that, they can manipulate you.”

Definitely worth reading the whole thing.

Whenever I read a story like this, where bosses not only treat employees like shit but treat trivial incidents in an ordinary business like they’re engaged in the Manhattan Project I’m reminded of the old George Carlin routine about how pompous and/or redundant language is used to make things sound important when they’re not. As Dylan Matthews puts it:


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