Called A Liar By My Coworker

Question:

My team leader at work has been barking orders at me, yelling at me, saying to me all day long, “What are you doing? Where are you? What’s taking you so long with that patient?” She’s on my back all day. Other coworkers say to me, “Why is she talking to you like that?” My supervisor has told her 2 times to back off. After our last meeting with supervisor, he told us we needed to get along and do our jobs.

After that meeting, I went to my team leader and said, ” I would like to talk to you. I don’t know what’s going on between us but we can work this out.” She said, “I will not take to you without a witness because you are a liar. You lied to supervisor.” I then told my supervisor what she had said.

He asked, “Do you want me to take care of this?” He didn’t like that she had called me a liar. I said I would keep him updated. Where do I go from here? I told my supervisor that I will always be professional with her at work. I want to let this go and start fresh. What do you think?

Signed,

Off My Back


Answer:

Dear Off My Back:

Work is hard enough without being nagged. Probably your team leader feels the pressure to see to it that your team performs well. That’s good, but she has a bad way of urging your team to do that. Probably she developed her “On your back” pattern of leadership because that’s the way she was trained. Also maybe she grew up with a mother or father who yelled at her with the kind of talk she yells at you: “What are you doing? Where are you? What’s taking you so long?” But now you have an additional problem because she thinks you painted her as a bad guy to you supervisor. So she thinks you said things about her that weren’t true; that you lied. Can your supervisor straighten all this out? Maybe; maybe not. Habits aren’t changed quickly, especially habits that have worked for someone. More that likely her yelling has made you and others jump. She yells and you jump to get her off your back.

Too often work groups expect to work together without getting clear on who does what, when, where, and how. Teams need to hammer out rules about how they communicate. They need do and don’t rules that fit your particular work situation, such as: · Do expect to be misunderstood and therefore be willing to speak clearly and repeat or say what you need to say in a different way. · Do meet with your supervisor to write out instructions in bold print. Keep them simple. · Do come to agreement on who does what and when and where. As much as possible establish assignments; Rotate jobs that are difficult and/or boring. · Do meet at the beginning of a shift to get assignments and learn what needs to be done. Also huddle from time to time during the day to see how things are going and to help make each other’s job easier. · Do keep teammates informed about where you are and what you are doing. Remember you are on the same team. · Do help each other to get jobs done so that you can have a few minutes to talk before leaving. · Do ask. Do use please and thank you. Do smile even when you aren’t on Candid Camera. · Do take time each week to talk about how you communicate. Talk about talk makes working together better. · Do put your heads together for at least 15 minutes each week to brainstorm and plan on ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted energy, wasted time, and wasted money. Do pretend you owned your workplace and will do everything reasonable to please your internal and external customers. · Don’t yell or cuss one another or patients. Don’t give orders. Don’t boss one another. Don’t bully. You aren’t each other’s commanding officer. · Don’t tattle to the supervisor. If you have a complaint about a teammate speak to that person first. · Don’t say something about a teammate to someone else that you wouldn’t say to her/him face to face. · Don’t nose into coworker’s private lives. It’s nice to be friendly, but not that way. · Don’t forget why you are hired; hired to make your workplace successful, not hired to talk about how dumb a coworker is, who was drunk, who puts on too much or too little makeup, or who making out, who cheating, and who committing this or that sin. Get my point? You and your nagging team leader can have a fresh start provided you and she, and hopefully your whole work group, are willing to make the rules about how you communicate. Work with others is extra hard when working with difficult people. But even dirty and difficult work isn’t so hard when you are working cooperatively with others. That’s why those on the chain gang and many other unpleasant jobs sang together while they worked. Working through annoyances and irresponsibility takes patience and lots of give and take, and that’s why you have a supervisor. Your supervisor is like a coach whose job it is to help your team to work together efficiently and effectively. Why not show him this Q&A and ask if it makes sense? Then after three weeks let me know what you’ve done and if it works. If you do even half of what I suggest I predict you will feel much better about all your coworkers and will appreciate the meaning of my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. P.S. Let me add that it is best to have your work group make their own communication rules from scratch. Then they will “own” them. If your supervisor makes the rules, your work group will think of them as more his than theirs.

William Gorden