Rob Campbell, head of strategy at RGA EMEA (and former head of planning at Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai), has launched a website aimed at gathering stories of "systematic abuse" and "corporate gaslighting" at the hands of poor managers.
The site, www.theytriedtokillmebuti.live, grew out of a moving post Campbell wrote for his personal blog in February, in which he related a "terrible experience" with a previous employer. In the post, Campbell decried "The systematic destruction of employees' confidence and experience to either leave them questioning their ability, their future or forcing them to be a complicit robot to the whims of management."
Within 72 hours, Campbell said, he received "over 250 stories of abuse", an outpouring that prompted him to take further action. The resulting site invites people to share their own stories anonymously.
The effort has two goals, Campbell told Campaign Asia-Pacific today. "I want to make managers acting this way recognise it and hopefully change, while offering support to those going through it by helping them realise they're not alone and shouldn't see themselves as inadequate when they're being abused," he said. Campbell added he would be satisfied if only one of those goals (the second one) could be achieved.
Though the original intent was to address the advertising and marketing industry, Campbell said many people who wrote to him were from outside adland, so the site is open to stories from across all sectors. Yet Campbell is particularly concerned about the damage that destruction of confidence can do to an industry that's meant to thrive on creativity. In his original post, he wrote:
When many talented people are feeling broken and worthless by their bosses, maybe it’s time we all take a good look at how we’re operating and what we’re asking our people to do, because if our future is dependent on showing how we can do amazing things with creativity and smarts … we’re doing a great job of making sure that stops happening.
Campbell will review submissions to the site according to a few rules—notably, no sharing of specific company names or name of people. "The goal is not to gain revenge, but to offer support to those who have suffered and to try and fundamentally change this toxic management style that seems to have quietly spread everywhere," the site says.