Been Misjudged by Head of Dept.


I feel I have been misjudged by my head of department (HOD) due to colleagues who put my work down to get their way.

I have tried to speak to my HOD about this but seem to get nowhere. The HOD in trying to smooth things over down-plays the problems and I get no resolution. I have been sent an email by the HOD that puts me in a bad position due to talks with these manipulative co-workers and I want to reply with a very long message that documents these events.

My plan is to speak to the HOD to tell her I have written this email as I feel I have been misjudged and I want to spell out my position. Then, I will send the email message to the HOD. I spoke to my line manager about this and she told me she thinks this is a mistake and it will not help the situation. I strongly believe that the HOD needs to see the details of these events in order to understand my position.




Dear Misjudged:

Whether you should write or not depends upon a couple of issues I think: 1. Do you have something brand new to add, or only just a repeat of what you have already said or written? Don’t repeat your old arguments and pleas for understanding, because obviously those are not accepted at this point. I’m not trying to be harsh about it, just realistic.

Has some serious violations of policy or procedure occured and the HOD is not aware of it? Or, do you feel you have been treated in such a way that you want to request a formal investigation and action about it? That would also be a reason to write.

If you have feel your previous conversations never allowed you to tell the facts and that if the HOD knew them that would change things, that would be another reason to write your story.

But if you have talked to her and she has a general idea of what is going on, I doubt the email will do anything more than irritate her.

2. It sounds as though your HOD is getting heartily sick and tired of this conflict, whatever it is. Writing more about it won’t help, unless what you write brings resolution.

3. Ask yourself this: What would reduce the stress and frustration for your HOD about this? You know the answer: For everyone–your coworkers and you–to be producing work effectively and not require her to deal with these issues.

You can be the one to give her that resolution. And maybe by doing that, you will finally be able to let her see your value and how wrongly she has misjudged you, if that is the case.

For example, say that apparently the situation isn’t being viewed by her and others as YOU view it. Say that you don’t want to have people perceive you as the cause of the problems, so you are going to make a commitment to focus on your good work and do your best to not let the remarks or actions of others distract you.

Ask your HOD to let you know if there are specific actions you need to do to improve or change some aspect of your behavior or performance. Tell her you will be working with your line manager about it as well.

Let THAT be your message, rather than another list of all the wrong things others have done.

I know it is frustrating to feel you are being misjudged, but what good has come from you placing the blame back on them? People get tired of the hassle of it, no matter who is right or wrong.

4. If you really, really think writing an email with all the truth will change the mind of the HOD appreciably and she will sympathize with you and chastise the others–or at least not believe them–then write. But, I think you know that probably won’t happen.

If you are a good employee with a positive outlook and a helpful demeanor people will see your good work and will want to support you. If you are in the middle of a fight all the time, people will assume you are partially to blame.

Some great advice is, “Live your life in such a way that when people say bad things about you, no one will believe them.” So, writing is up to you. What you write is also up to you. Consider writing a response and letting your line manager review it to get that person involved. He or she is the one who you should be working with most closely anyway.

Then, resolve to be the best employee you can be. Do your work as you would do it if you owned the company. That won’t be easy if you feel wrongly accused or in the middle of a problem. But, it can be done. Find a friend or two you can spend time with and enjoy each other. Just stay positive and vow you will be so effective you will be vindicated someday soon.

If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how this works out. Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.