Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — My boss didn’t hear what I was really saying. He’s a one of the best bosses I ever had so I was blown away when he seemed to side with the person I complained about who is known around here as an aggressive loud mouth. Do you think I should approach him again or drop it and see what happens if I take his advice (to document this if it happens again and then see him then)? I guess I’m more frustrated than if it was just bad behavior because it concerns money. Seriously I feel like quitting. — Frustrated Frank
Dear Frustrated Frank,
Don’t quit just yet! If you think your boss is one of the best you’ve ever had, then I think you owe it yourself to approach him one more time on this.
Your question rang a bell for me. There is a co-worker-on-co-worker complaint from my managerial past that I might handle very differently today. Even the most detached and observant manager can become distractedly wrapped up in external (market) circumstances and hear/perceive a complaint, such as yours, as one more pile up on his plate. Yes, Virginia!, even managers are human. It’s possible that if a complaint is highlighted differently, your manager could potentially avoid alienating a great worker by giving off the wrong impression that he doesn’t care. Given your usual positive feelings about him, I’m confident your boss would want to avoid losing you. Great team members are incredibly hard to come by, and that is a strong point for you to push: you are a good team player (and back it up specifically). In today’s down market, see if your boss is facing similar circumstances as I felt in the past. He possibly could do a lot better by the entire team, if you once more point out what you said here to us (that your frustration is higher because it concerns money — not frustrated personal stuff — an entirely legitimate matter for and of you that he can instantly recognize). Even if you think you said that to him or it should be obvious, try stating it differently and ask him if he understands your concerns. Get him to repeat your complaint to you. When you are satisfied that he does hear your real concern, then you will have to decide how you will live with his (new?) mandate. Documenting events in an office is always wise…for you.
On a very real flip side, I want to recognize that office bullying has replaced sexual harassment as the bane of the workplace. Here is one resource.
Work it, don’t quit it yet, Frank!
Dear Frustrated Frank,
Well. You haven’t really given enough information for me to weigh in on the exact situation you encountered, but in this case it seems fair to weigh what you know of the individuals involved.
First, if you know your manager to be fair and level-headed, why do you doubt his ‘document, wait and report’ suggestion? Even though money is involved, what if your manager knows there is not enough evidence to make your case? In that case, the best thing that can be done is for you to document this incident, future “aggressive” behavior and report any repeat offenses. In that case, you and your manager are actually working together to resolve this situation for good.
It may also be true that though this “aggressive loud mouth” can be difficult to work with, there may be extenuating circumstances you are not aware of. Have there been other incidents? Is this person the only one with access and fingerprints on the money-concerning debacle? Is it possible that someone else maliciously or accidentally is responsible for the situation?
You know best of all, what the situation is. Do not mistake your manager’s usual level-headedness for friendship. This is not really about taking sides. It is about resolving the situation fairly. If you feel like your manager is treating you unfairly, document that too. It is only when you can show a pattern that you have a chance to make things right. Neither your manager, nor your manager’s supervisor is going to take a chance of litigation for wrongful termination. Document. Everything.
And, unless you have a job waiting for you, don’t make any impulsive decisions in this economic climate. An ass of a boss or coworker is actually not worth your solvency. Want revenge? Document. Report to your manager, possibly with a letter to his supervisor if you do not feel the manager handles the situation fairly and win. You have a legal case against the company if they terminate or bring disciplinary action against you for following up on your rights.
Take it slow. Document with dates, time and people present. Sometime patience wins the game. Good luck.
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