A Twitter executive hired to shake up the tech firm’s ‘kind but stagnant’ culture left staff in tears with his tough talk and meetings where they were encouraged to slate each other.
Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis, 43, was accused of making workers feel ‘psychologically unsafe’ after blasting poor work, firing staffers he was unhappy with – and sending scathing criticism of them to their former bosses.
Davis, a top design executive with prior experience at Netflix, Yahoo! and PayPal, was hired by Twitter in 2019 as vice president of design, and has since been promoted.
He has spearheaded a number of product innovations, including audio tweets and prompts to encourage reading an article before sharing it.
A champion of workplace diversity and inclusion who often tweets about the topic, Davis was brought on to improve Twitter’s diversity efforts as well as shake up the company culture.
Leaders felt that Twitter’s kind and collaborative culture had grown too soft and stagnant, with employees unwilling to offer constructive criticism for fear of offending, according to the Times.
But Davis’ emphasis on tough criticism quickly had some workers in tears during a two-hour meeting soon after he was hired, according to three people present.
He went around a room asking workers to offer compliments and criticism of each other’s work. The New York Times reported that the barbs soon began to fly, with multiple staffers left sobbing.
Davis’ tough approach was the subject of several company investigations, as well as complaints to Dorsey, the report said.
Twitter officials admit that sometimes Davis took his tough approach too far, but say that he has promised to tone things down and note that he was hired to shake up the culture.
‘This is actually a Twitter culture change that we’ve been trying to drive,’ Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of human resources, told the Times.
Davis pushed for improved performance on his team, and quickly demoted or fired workers he found unsatisfactory, often following up on terminations with a note to his team criticizing the fired employee’s poor work, according to the report.
By later 2019, complaints about a culture of fear under Davis spurred an investigation by Twitter’s employee relations unit.
Story continues at: Twitter Snowflakes