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I've been working at a small company for about 5 years, and I haven't had any real complaints. We just hired our first Human Resources director. Through the rumor mill, I heard that she suggested to the owner that the employees meet in small groups to criticize each other and bring all our faults into the open. The boss thought this was a terrific idea. How do I convince the boss that this would be the beginning of the end?

Assuming that your company's rumor mill is grinding out accurate information, it sounds like your new Human Resources director has a less-than-resourceful idea. Unless your boss is interested in a program that will generate dissatisfaction, distress, and disharmony, you should consider making some suggestions on your own.

In the broadest sense, the idea of a new HR director conducting some group sessions to learn about employee attitudes is a good one. However, these discussions should focus on attitudes toward such issues as productivity, teamwork, job design, rewards, and the work atmosphere and culture.

You can tell your boss that in sessions where employees are encouraged to unleash negative feelings toward each other, such feelings are not put back into a sealed bottle when the session ends. Rather, many of the participants will feel hurt, attacked, betrayed, and defensive, and they will take these feelings right back to their jobs. When a project calls for cooperation with someone who slammed them in the group session, the outcome is not going to be pretty.

Let your boss see the costs of the new director's approach, and the benefits of sessions that focus on performance rather than personality. This may be the beginning of the end of a questionable idea.

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