Bullying at Work: Dealing with Fran The Freezer

Dealing with bullies at work: Fran the Freezer
Joe Burroughs

Joe Burroughs

Many people are frustrated by uncertainty and complexity in their jobs. I use Agile principles to provide clear and simple strategies so that you can win at work!

Sometimes the workplace bully isn’t directly confrontational. “Fran the Freezer” can push you around without ever interacting with you at all. In fact, that is often one of the red flags that you have a Fran in your midst.

Fran typically has some level of control over one or more processes that are critical to getting things done within your group or organization. It could be as significant as budget approval, but more often it is something seemingly minor like an initial review of resource submissions. In other words, Fran doesn’t have the ultimate say, but she could reject or stall your submission based on subjective criteria.

Employees with even minor approvals over budgets, scheduling, training, event planning, and resourcing can have a huge impact on the work lives of their co workers and team members. These roles are perfect for Fran!

Frans also rarely confirm meeting attendance ahead of time or they routinely cancel at the last minute due to an unforeseen matter that demands their immediate attention. This way you never have the option to move your issue forward and Fran never has to justify the reason for the freeze.

Dealing with Fran the Freezer

If confronted directly, Fran will typically hide behind a vague or ambiguous interpretation of the process or find a business-related excuse to explain their decisions. These reasons will disintegrate in the presence of an engaged leader who understands the value of the work you are trying to accomplish.

The key to dealing with Fran is a simple 4 step process:

  1. Once you get frozen build a solid business case for your issue
  2. Reply to Fran and include your/their manager
  3. Invite leadership to any meeting you have with Fran
  4. Going forward copy leaders on any submission to Fran’s area or department

The key is to ALWAYS be polite, clear, and task-focused in all of these communications. If Fran can get you to “throw a punch” she can cast you as the bully. Never let Fran the Freezer stop you, instead be above the bully by going above the bully!

Join our Pro Tips Pipeline

Agile Pro Tips respects your privacy.  Read our privacy policy on how we handle your personal information.


Joe Burroughs

Sharing is Caring!

We are working hard to grow our audience and you can help! Please share any content your find valuable or interesting. 


3 thoughts on “Bullying at Work: Dealing with Fran The Freezer”

  1. Hey Joe ! I found that it helps to be totally acceptant of whatever excuse is given … “Wow, sounds like you’ve got a heck of a job keeping up with that (workload, responsibility, etc). What can I do to help you help me?” Seems to be disarming to Frans, and (sometimes) works to win them over.

  2. I avoid allowing myself to communicate with Fran/Fred the Freezer alone. I add a notify me when read so I can keep track of read and often unread messages.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *