A Co-worker Friend Might Be Laid Off

Question:

In a private board meeting, I learned that my best friend is about to be laid off. My friend is in the process of buying a new house. How should I handle this situation?

Signed,

Worried For Her

Answer:

Dear Worried For Her:

This is an ethical question we have addressed another time from another employee who was in the know of a termination of a friend. In that case the employee, who sent the question, knew her friend was about to be fired and was about to go in debt for a new car. If she disclosed that the boss was interviewing someone to replace this friend, the friend might quit early and it could get back to her boss that she was betraying a confidence. In a similar way, you are facing the same problem–your friend is in the process of buying a new house and is about to be laid off. What do you think you should do? From the little you say, I assume that what you learned what revealed in confidence.

If you hint to your friend, “maybe you should check with your boss to learn how stable is your job before you sign the papers of a new house”, surely your friend will suspect you know something she does not. And when the friend confronts the boss, undoubtedly he will suspect that what you learned at the board meeting had been disclosed–in Washington D.C. terms “had been leaked without the boss’s permission.”

Have you spoken with the boss, or whomever will be the bearer of bad news to your friend, to apprise her/him that this co-worker is in the process of buying a house, probably under the assumption that her job is secure? Once you put this ball in that individual’s hands, you have opened the door to the ethical dilemma you feel–wanting to help your friend and expecting the friend once she gets the bad news to confront you, “Did you know anything about this and if so why didn’t you warn me???” And because you know that friends do not lie to one another, you cannot say, “No, I had heard nothing.” The boss then should make her/his wishes known about what is ethically permissible for you to do or not do. Putting your self in other’s shoes, both a friend’s and your organization’s, is WEGO mindedness.

There may other ways to work through this should I or shouldn’t I say something. If so , please let us know.

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One Of Our Staff Has The Boss’s Attention!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss’s favorite who loafs:

What do you do if an employee in your office is always in the in the bosses office visiting? This employee does the least in the office, yet she seems to be his favorite, which the other employees notice. We have a hard working team, with the exception of this one employee. The other staff members notice how little she does, but they don’t voice their complaints, because it might make their own working relationship with the boss uncomfortable. This employee has gone to great lengths to get noticed by the boss. She joined his church, choir, any committees he is on, and even became friends with his daughters. The strength behind this business is the other employees who genuinely care, and work hard for this company. Their efforts should be equally appreciated. This is a non-union business with only 6 employees. Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated.

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My Boss Expects Me To Lie. I Don’t!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about lying.

I’m an Administration Assistant for a law firm. My boss doesn’t like the term “not available.” He would prefer I tell callers he is “not here” or “in a meeting” when he chooses not to take a call.I cannot do that. I do not lie. How can I get around this without offending him and still be able to handle the front desk? Are there other terms beside “not available” I can use? Thank you

Signed, Can’t Do That

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Boss’s Husband Plays Bodyguard!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rude body guard:

The boss’s (president) husband has been with the company as bookkeeper for 18 months. He’s an ok guy but more and more he appears to be checking on our whereabouts, questioning our work. He’s rude when he needs information and makes a few unsavory comments. He acts like the boss’s bodyguard and we feel she is unaccessable now. He’s not the boss.

I’m a vice president and administrative director. I am afraid his way with my employees will cause me to lose excellent people. We’ve been coworkers for 15 years. The boss and I share our hobby out of work. Do I approach him first? I hate to do what he does and go running to the boss. Thanks for your time.

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Can I Be Fired For Making Out With A Sexy Guy?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about possible romance between employees:

I am a disabled female worker in the UK. I have a supported job with the council. In my last department, I met a really sexy, single guy. He is a lot older than me. We swapped contact details and things get intense, on the phone, at times. I think we have stopped the relationship, but would his bosses have any right to fire him if they found out about us, presuming things had gone further?

Signed, What If

Dear What If:

I don’t know. Are there council policy guidelines for you and co-workers? This is something you might be able to learn by a brief talk with your Human Resources Manager or an attorney who deals with labor issues. I welcome hearing from you about what you learn. Sorry, I cannot be more helpful. Probably the best route for you both is to let a sleeping dog lie.– Bill Gorden The Workplace Doctors WEGO at the most intimate level is mutual attraction. However, that is personal business that does not foster the work of the organization.

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Demoted And Pay Cut!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about demotion and pay cut:

Demotion and loss of $5,000 a year! Our school is being restructured and my head wants me to do the same job for less–all this after 18 years of good service!. She acknowledges that I am good at my job, but has singled me out for this demotion and loss of pay. There is some history of antagonism in the past. My union is slow to offer advice. Others have been given preferential treatment and have been promoted to posts that haven’t been advertised. This makes it hard for me to work and feel any sense of worth.

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Should Anyone Else Be Present While I’m Reprimanded

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about process of a reprimand:

If I am receiving a reprimand at work, should there be anyone else in the room except for my boss? Also if the answer is yes, should that person be of higher rank than me? Are there is any websites out there that may help or Kentucky state laws?

Signed, All Alone?

Dear All Alone?:

Yes, there should be a third person in the room during the reprimand. The supervisor will usually ask someone to “listen and observe” during the session. However, if there is someone else you would like to serve as this third person, simply approach him and ask, “Could Tom be with us during the session?” The KY State Department of Labor should offer additional information. Type those words in to your search engine. Best of luck.

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I Am Ear-Sensitive!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sensitive ears:

I sympathize with “thrown to the wolves” under your column of noise in the workplace. I, too, have the same exact problem. Your answer to her did not carry it all the way out. In my case I have people playing radios all around me. I asked to be moved and all I got for my efforts was being told: I need to get my ears check to see if an accommodation can be made (as if I’m the one with a disability), also told that the people will be told to confine the noise to their desk and also that the supervisors will make the decision on whether I still hear the radios – if they don’t then oh-well!

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Desperate For Less Stress!

Question:

My boss is moron. She is the manager of the entire office, and she doesn’t even know how to utilize spell check. She and her friend, whom she has given a management position to despite of her being totally unqualified, just sit around the office gossiping and going online to totally inappropriate work websites (hotornot.com for one). She has recently been getting into to trouble over not doing anything because our office has gotten really busy and people are noticing that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing.

I stepped up and have been taking on more responsibility and working to better the office over all because I am the only manager on at night and I hate dealing with issues that could be prevented, so I have just started fixing the issues and such myself. This has really threatened her and now she sends me nasty emails about doing things that aren’t my job, and when I try to gently explain that they are things that have needed to get done for several weeks and were prohibiting me from performing my regular duties, she literally flips out and cries and yells and tells everyone that she is going to fire me. The director of another department advised her to listen to me because I had held a position similar to hers in the past and that she could really use my experience in getting her arms around her new position.

This seems to have really threatened my boss, and she now is trying to replace me. She keeps setting me up to fail (which I don’t, because I am very good at my job, but it sure stresses me out) and is continually talking about how incompetent I am and that she just wants to fire me and start over. The problem is, upper management doesn’t agree with her, so it creates tension. I’ve even caught her breaking into my email and reading messages sent from other managers about groups in the hotel, deposit issues, etc.

I have since found another job, and will probably end up leaving this job in about two months, but I want my last few months to be less stressful (I feel like I’m losing my mind!) and I am afraid to give too much notice, that she’ll just lay me off early instead of utilizing me to help train my replacement. Please help. I’m sick of the tension headaches and unnecessary stress from this job. I also don’t know if I should explain to my higher ups why I am leaving my position or if I should just keep my mouth shut and leave quietly. Please help me!

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My Manager Called Me Incompetent!

Question:

My manager called me incompetent on my first week of the job? Is this verbal abuse? Did she have any right in saying that to me? Thank you for your time.

Signed,

New Hire

Answer:

Dear New Hire:

To call you incompetent is not verbal abuse or against the law. It is rude and bad bossing. What did you say back? Good bossing points out an employee’s lack of skills and the word “incompetent” means just that. Good managers are careful when interviewing individuals seeking jobs to assess their competence for the kind of assignments within job descriptions. Once an individual is hired, managers are responsible to monitor performance and to determine if a new employee can do the tasks assigned and, if not, to either see that they are trained or discharged.

Employees are wise early on to initiate conversations with their supervisor to learn what they are doing correctly and what is not. Apparently, your manager observed your performance and stated you were lacking. It would have been better if she spoke to you politely pointing out the explicitly what was wrong and how it might be corrected.

You are fortunate to learn within a week the demeanor of your manager and her general evaluation of you. Now you can either suck in that word “incompetent” and let it fester into anger or to request a meeting to learn what is expected. It is smart to learn if your manager thinks that you can be trained to do the job. Possibly, the manager was so dismayed that she simply exclaimed. Maybe your spelling was bad. Maybe you did not know certain computer skills. Maybe your manager doubts that you can do the kind of work needed. If so, it good to learn that now and then you can seek work elsewhere. I don’t know what provoked that word. If you do, apologize and tell your manager from now that you prefer that she states specifically what are your mistakes rather than call out “incompetent” and will do your best to not make those mistakes again. Does this make sense? Put your faith in a good attitude and in keeping the channel of communication open. Don’t allow your pride to boil within. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Feel free to speak with others to evaluate my advice, but avoid complaining to your co-workers about being called incompetent. That would only make matters worse.

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