Published: 10/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5946 Page 20 21

Terri Brunne, project manager, Caring Round the Clock, Sutton and Merton primary care trust

Your Working Lives columnist Jenny Rogers says: 'I have yet to see an alleged personality clash which was not actually a polite fiction to disguise deep-rooted differences over performance or values' (Working Lives, page 37, 24 February).

Yes it is true that a staff member may have differences with their manager due to performance issues or a clash of values. However, many times it is because a manager feels threatened by a high-performing staff member. The manager may then try to 'put the other person down' by criticising alleged poor performance or by trying to block the person's access to promotion by spreading rumours, isolating the person, or giving them work at a 'basic level'.

All of these tactics are an attempt to eliminate the person from the workplace, hoping they will get fed up and apply for a job elsewhere.

A weak manager may also feel threatened on personal grounds if the staff member becomes more popular socially than they are within the organisation, is perceived to be more physically attractive, better dressed, drives a more expensive car, or lives in a more desirable neighbourhood.

In short, managers are human, too! And they play out all sorts of political agendas in the workplace in an effort to solidify their positions and increase their power bases.

One cannot assume that peers are experiencing the same thing, as your other columnist, Jan Sobieraj, suggests because the manager may not feel threatened by them and may treat them well.

I refer you and your readers to considerable research that has been carried out on this subject in several European countries and the US over the past 20 years.

Your reader need not worry about their manager not giving them a reference for the next post. If the manager wants to eliminate them from the workplace, they will be more than happy to give a glowing reference!