Bulletin: Tribune CEO Under Fire, Hostile Workplaces An Issue


This morning, the Chicago Tribune, citing inside sources, reported that the Tribune Company’s controversial CEO Randy Michaels will retire by end of the week, though no confirmation was provided by company executives. Michaels has come under fire for instilling a “frat boy” culture at the once-venerable media company, an allegation that gained traction last week with the suspension and then resignation of chief innovation officer Lee Abrams, who sent a company-wide email containing highly offensive material. The situation at the Tribune Company raises many important issues that should be discussed by employers around the country. It is one thing when a co-worker or department manager is creating a hostile or uncomfortable work environment, but what do employees and employers do when that environment stems from the highest ranking executives? What challenges will the Tribune Company face in finding a CEO who will be able to restore the company’s reputation while, at the same time, “shaking things up” in a media industry that is in a volatile state of change? What lessons can other companies learn from this when it comes to selecting a CEO; is it more important to find a leader who will define the culture or one who fits the existing culture?


According to a recent poll created by the Workplace Bullying Institute and conducted by Zogby International, 35 percent of workers have witnessed workplace bullying this year. Of those bullied, 68 percent was same-gender harassment and 80 percent of women bullies target other women, the study found. The Workplace Bullying Institute recommended full screenings of new hires, thorough background checks, in addition to human resources scanning the environment for any potential trouble. What behaviors indicate a workplace bully? What policies can be used to protect the workforce? What are best practices for handling a bully?


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