Co-Worker Or Micro-supervisor???

Question:

I have a co-worker/supervisor (that has never really been made clear to me which) who interviewed me for a job in payroll/accounts payable in a small company. She got approval from her boss to hire me. After I started the job, I was in an office by myself. Shortly after, the higher-ups moved her into my office. She is a complete miro-manager. She will nitpick and criticize every mistake you make. She is hateful to customers on the phone and to other employees, constantly saying how ignorant and incompetent they are when they are not around. She is 64, has worked here since 1976 and knows the company in and out. Her attitude is horrible. I really like the job, however, and do not want to quit, nor do I want to go to the bosses to complain as I have only been here a little over a year and feel that if her attitude has been like this for this long and they have not done anything to council her about it, they probably won’t even if I ask them to.

Several other employees have problems with her and she does things that could get the company in legal trouble like making racial slurs and giving out too much information to people that call asking about former employees. I really need some advice on how to deal with her.

Signed,

Held Accountable


Answer:

DearĀ Held Accountable:

Apparently, it doesn’t matter whether your office mate is a co-worker or supervisor because she behaves as a boss. Since you like your job, you will have to decide if it is wise to tell your office mate to tend to her own knitting or have a head to head confrontation asserting that you want to be cooperative but not micromanaged. I think that would be a mistake.

Ms. Know It All (KIA) has earned the know-how of payroll and accounts payable across the years and thinks she knows best. So she micro-manages and criticizes your mistakes. Learn from her. Be overly appreciative and grateful and seek her advice. Being caustic or sarcastic will only turn the climate in your office from cool to cold. Don’t be flippant or careless or she will make your working life miserable, more than it is now.

Don’t go the boss unless you have talked to her first about it and there is something that really hurts your performance. Learn from her how not to be. When she badmouths others, ignore her or make brief remarks about something you see as positive. When and if the boss above invites your opinion, be ready with suggestions that might benefit the company: such as: 1. training in civility and respect for co-workers and management 2. team building 3. improving quality of products and service to internal and external customers 4. cutting wasted supplies, time, effort and helping make each other’s jobs easier and more effective.

Approaching co-workers about their behavior that can damage a company is best done indirectly–by engaging them and their bosses in positive efforts to better the performance of the workgroup as a whole.

Reflect on these thoughts. Feel free to disagree. Pretend that you are a creative person. Pretend that you are a cheerleader. Pretend that you are a player who passes the ball to others. Focus on self-improvement and attaining the kind of skills that will make you so valuable that you can move on to another office within the company or elsewhere. Do let us know if you find a way to cope with Ms. KIA. Think WEGO.

William Gorden