Breach Of Confidence

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about breach of confidence: I made my feelings known that the situation wasn’t fair. My manager and I got into an argument the other day and she throws up at me that I was trying to jeopardize her job!

I have been working at this company for almost 3 years now and have been pulling the entire weight in the office. I am the assistant manager and it’s only the manager and me in the office. Well she has multiple health problems concerning her back among other things. She had been taking A LOT of time off work and wasn’t turning her time in; she would come in the office and go to sleep for hours! There are many problems and these are just a few.

My supervisors (I have two) did our evaluation, and of course when they came in, she wasn’t here, so they said that I needed to keep them informed about what’s going on in our office. So I made a few phone calls about her absences that were not turned in and about her sleeping in the office. I made my feelings known that the situation wasn’t fair. My manager and I got into an argument the other day and she throws up at me that I was trying to jeopardize her job!

That is not the case: I just wanted her to do her job. In any case the only way she would have known anything is if my supervisor told her of my complaints. Now needless to say this makes our work environment awful: 1. Because now I know she knows and 2. I now know that I cannot go to my supervisor because all she will do is go back to my supervisor(s)!

I feel that this is a breach of confidence between an employee and employer. I feel like it’s impossible for me to continue my employment. I can’t sleep at night because this is all I think about! Any advice?


In The Breach

Dear In The Breach:

I’ve signed your request for advice “In The Breach”. Why? Common sense should have warned you that you not expect anonymity when complaining about the other person in a two-person office. Get smart. Don’t blame your supervisor for disclosing your evaluation of your manager and don’t blame your manager for knowing you told on her.

The lesson you should learn for this unhappy affair is: Expect complaints about others to come back to you and they are worse when you bypass the one about whom you are complaining. Therefore, you should have first confronted your manager about her not carrying her fair share of the load and frankly told her you will go above if she doesn’t correct this. I know that would have taken courage on your part, but what you did in her estimation was a breach of confidence.

Sure you can say your supervisor’s requested your evaluation of your manager, but nevertheless, she feels you tattled. Must you give up on the mess you helped create? Possibly you should hunt for a different job; however, consider:

· Apologizing to your manager and seeing if you can work though a fair agreement of responsibilities.

· Confronting your supervisor(s) with the hell-of-a-working relationship you now have with you manager. Request that one of you be transferred or that each of you report to someone above instead of you being your manager’s assistant.

· Toughen up. You should not allow this mistake (I think it was a mistake on your part) to keep you from sleeping. You were frustrated and you spilled your guts. Now you have learned that to complain about a boss should be done more professionally; by first confronting the boss.

Hopefully these thoughts will provide you a new perspective and prompt you to voice your concerns for your workplace in a constructive way. Do what you would do if you owned the company. Make your mission to do what is needed to make it efficient and effective. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. And that is what you want for your self, your manager, and your work organization. So think big. Think positive. See your self as interdependent, an essential part of a working relationship. Cheer on what is good. Find ways to change what is not.

Follow Up: When a company has an “open door policy”, I thought that confidence was to be confident. I did go to my manager first and since the problem wasn’t resolved I went to whom I thought I was suppose to go to. There is no “problem” between my manager and me because we have worked through this although she’s still not working and she’s still leaving early without turning her time in. The problem lies with the fact that I did what I was told to do and was told it would be in confidence. Now I know that if I ever have another problem, this is the way it will be handled.

Personally if I owned the place I would have never allowed the supervisors to do what they did! I have let her know on several occasions that I feel that I am being taking advantage of and the problem still persists! I like how I did what I was told to do but yet I was wrong and she did absolutely nothing wrong?

Response: Your follow up note indicates you are still an unhappy camper. You add that you went to your manager first about her failures. Did you really tell her how unhappy you were with her sleeping on the job and not turning in the correct time? I doubt that you were as frank with her as you were with your supervisors who told you to report on your manager.

In your first description of a your problem, you didn’t say you went first to your manager. Rather you said you had an argument and she stated you were trying to get her fired. Now you say, “There is no problem between my manager and me because we have worked through this although she’s still not working and she’s still leaving early without turning her time in.” So there is still a problem between her and you. You are still angry about her not working and leaving early? You don’t like her cheating. Of course you are.

You also are angry with your supervisors for breaching confidence and not resolving your manager’s bad behavior. You can fume inside about both of these things, but that doesn’t solve your unhappy work situation. Therefore, if you want things made fair, you again must confront your manager about her behavior and/or you must report to your supervisors, whom you now know will not keep a confidence. You must request again that they resolve your manager’s bad behavior. Will you show them a log of what is going on; her sleeping and leaving early? Will you say, “This isn’t right and you have not stopped her poor performance?”

And before you report on her again, my advice as I stated before, is to tell her you are reporting it. Sure this is sticky and will again make her think you are trying to get her fired when what you really want is just to get the problem resolved. You can be angry too at me for saying the way you reported on her as she saw it was tattling. The fact is you are unhappy because what you really want is a fair shake. Ideally, your manager, your supervisors and you should meet to hammer out the rules required for what you were hired to do.

Ideally you would meet regularly answering such questions as: What have we done well and what might we do better to please our internal and external customers? Are we cutting wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted money? Are we finding innovative ways to make our operations more profitable? Are we having fun or is this just a boring job? Are we making each others’ jobs easier and more effective? Are we communicating openly and effectively? Are we working as a team?

Until you get the problem resolved about your manager, I predict you will be an unhappy camper. I also predict you will harbor resentment of your supervisors until you confront them about breaching confidence. You additionally will be angry about the answer of the workplace doctor. Right? Now you must decide if you are doing all you can to make your job and your workplace a place in which you are excited and proud to work. Or continue to smolder with discontent. Does this make sense? If not, I hope you will find a constructive solution somehow and somewhere to buy into and do what it takes to make big WEGOS.

William Gorden