Happening on TLNT: Managing a Level-Six “Assbag” Crisis

Late in my HR career, I provided support to a group of IT professionals in our St. Louis office. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but it was nice to talk to people who still had jobs, and I tried to be available for employee-related emergencies and advice.

One afternoon, the local office manager called me in distress and asked me to open my email inbox that very moment. It was a level-six personnel emergency, but he didn’t have time to explain the working definition of personnel or level six.

I logged on to my laptop and read a forwarded email from a manager named Bella. While venting to a colleague in her department, she referred to her VP of IT as an assbag.

You read that right — an assbag.

Bella was in a meeting where her boss was being a jerk. In a moment of frustration, she emailed a colleague and expressed her annoyance. Instead of coaching Bella to communicate with respect, the co-worker stabbed her in the back and forwarded her email to several people in the office, including the office manager and the VP.

You can imagine what happened next. People pretended to be appalled, the VP was offended, and the pitchforks were out.

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Head over to TLNT to continue reading this excerpt from the new book Betting on You (Henry Holt and Company) by Laurie Ruettimann.


This article is part of TLNT’s new series Questioning Authority, which challenges leading thinking by talking to leading thinkers. This piece is part of the current QA volume: Fixing Your Workplace Will Not Fix Your Workforce. 

Also be sure to register for the first QA webinar, Can HR Fix People? Questioning Authority With Laurie Ruettimann, on Tuesday, January 19, at 2 p.m. ET.

Laurie Ruettimann is a former human resources leader turned writer, entrepreneur, and speaker. She is also author of Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career.

CNN has recognized Laurie as one of the top five career advisors in the United States, and her work has been featured on NPR, The New YorkerUSA TodayThe Wall Street Journal, and Vox. Laurie frequently delivers keynote speeches at business and management events around the world and hosts the popular podcast Punk Rock HR. She lives with her husband and cats in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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