'All are afraid of him': Records show culture of fear, intimidation under resigned Alamodome GM
Nicholas Langella abruptly resigned in August after 5 years in role
SAN ANTONIO – Newly released records are shedding light on the office culture under Alamodome General Manager Nicholas Langella before he abruptly resigned in August.
Some employees described Langella as an office morale-downer who created an office environment of fear, condescension and intimidation.
Langella's human resources file was released Tuesday to KSAT. The documents were initially withheld for months under an exception of pending litigation, but the city released the file when the threat of litigation no longer existed, a spokeswoman for the city said.
The file contains a number of scathing reviews of Langella's leadership style and attitude toward employees.
The human resources file contains 2015 and 2016 "Alamodome General Manager 360 Review" reports, which are evaluations of Langella's performance made by his staff from October 2014 to September 2016.
In the 2015 review, employees asked for feedback on Langella's performance wrote that staff was scared of Langella and feared retaliation for voicing their concerns.
One employee wrote that Langella "intimidates subordinates and is especially condescending to people who do not report to him," including receptionists and assistants. The employee wrote that "morale among Dome staff is at an all time low," and that Langella seldom interacted with lower level staff "because they are beneath him" and "all are afraid of him."
The employee added that people feared giving their opinion when it was asked for because they "(feared) it (was) a trap and (stayed) silent."
A second employee wrote that while he is a great negotiator with expansive knowledge of the industry, "many people (at the Alamodome) fear him."
"I don't believe there is any way to speak your mind here without some sort of retaliation," the employee wrote.
In the 2015 review, Langella scored lowest on the topics of teamwork and leadership and development. He earned an overall rating of 3 on a scale of 4, which indicates he exceeded expectations.
In the 2016 review, some employee perceptions of Langella improved, but still, his staff remarked that he was "condescending," believed that "no one knows more than him" and that he needed to "trust his staff more."
The 2016 review contained a mix of positive and negative reviews, praising Langella's efforts toward working better with employees and his "get the job done" mentality. There were, however, some who felt he continued to demonstrate a lack of appreciation of "his (staff's) experience, expertise and knowledge."
Like his 2015 review, Langella scored lowest on teamwork, leadership and development in his 2016 review. However, he also received lower marks in the areas of decision-making and performance in his professional development plan.
Unlike his 2015 employee rating, Langella appealed his overall rating in 2016, arguing he did all that was expected of him and that while his evaluator noted his improvements from 2015, he scored lower in more categories than in 2015 and earned an overall score of 2 on a scale of 4, which indicates he only achieved expectations.
In his appeal, he also argued that the 360 review portion, which allowed his staff to share their input on his performance confidentially, should be modified, as it can be "subjective and opinionated."
Staff input form is not administered in FY 2017
The 360 review portion was not administered in fiscal year 2017. It's unclear if Langella's 2016 protest to the method played a role in its discontinuation.
Langella's 2017 review stated that the 360 review would be modified or the agency would adopt another format to obtain feedback in fiscal year 2018.
Langella, for the third time in a row, scored lowest on teamwork and leadership and development in his 2017 review. He earned an overall rating of 3 on a scale of 4 in his 2017 review.
Each review was administered in December of the respective fiscal year. Langella resigned before his performance could be evaluated for the 2018 fiscal year.
Langella abruptly resigns
Months after overseeing the Alamodome's hosting of the 2018 NCAA Final Four and securing another bid to host the 2025 NCAA Final Four, Langella resigned.
Langella's resignation letter was not included in his HR file.
Records indicate he worked for the city for five years.
Langella's post has been temporarily filled by Stephen Zito, who was hired by Langella. The city said the Convention and Sports Facilities Department will conduct a national search for a permanent general manager.
Financial data on the Texas Tribune's site shows Langella made $135,820 annually as general manager.
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