Rumors are often the reason that gossip exists and they get blown out of shape over time. They are often rooted in some bit of truth that grow into larger entities with each retelling of the story. While most rumors are not worth repeating or even listening too, I just hate it when they are true.
When a former employee of a company told me that there was no way to help their former employer make a turn around, because the “inner circle” won’t allow it, I immediately thought here we go again. How could a company with 1000+ employees truly be under some kind of choke hold by four people. Well the rumor is true, and sadly this group of four people are in control and nothing I can do will change it.
The root issue is that none of these four are competent in skills and experience to perform their jobs, and yet view themselves as subject matter experts at a level that no other human being is allowed to achieve nor challenge. So they exclude other employees that challenge their world view and only hire people who will be complacent. The company is failing, senior management in other departments are quitting, and replacements are rooted out through the recruitment process for traces of competence that exceed their own.
It sounds screwy and something that only the rumor mill could create, but very true.
This particular situation has caused me to take pause and listen with a more open ear. Rumors can be true, no matter how far-fetched they may sound, a rumor is at the very least a yellow flag that should not be ignored. Working for this company is not for the individual that wants to make a contribution. They must want to take directions and not think independently if they are to remain employed. And they should have no expectations of professional success because anything they do will be absorbed by the inner circle.
As a consultant these kinds of operations intrigue me because I like to fix things that are not working. And yet, dysfunction at this level is not fixable by a consultant or even another senior manager. It will require the board of directors to act if there is any hope.