Given Second Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about warnings: My new supervisor, who started four months ago, doesn’t like me and is trying to get rid of me. At first it was a gut feeling, now it is a fact.

I never thought I would be in this place. I have worked for this organization for over five years with always good performances, an award, raises and commendations from my supervisors. My new supervisor, who started four months ago, doesn’t like me and is trying to get rid of me. At first it was a gut feeling, now it is a fact. She is seeking out my mistakes (of course I am not perfect), so she finds them and she sets me up to fail. In less than three months, I had three warnings. Besides trying to be perfect and looking for another job, what do you think I should do? Should I resign before she fires me? I am really scared, and I am under a lot of stress trying to be perfect. She also has double standards. She requires of me things she doesn’t from others and she herself fails to do. Please tell me what can I do?

Signed, Distressed

Dear Distressed:

Your distress is not uncommon when a new boss takes over. New bosses often come with different standards and they uncover things that before were accepted. You might be right that this new supervisor wants you to fail; however, even if that is true, it is a negative mindset that hurts and causes you to work scared. That kind of mindset is self-fulfilling for failure just as a positive impression you might sense a new supervisor had of you would be self-fulfilling for higher performance.

So you can obsess about “she is out to make me fail” or you can put that out of you mind and say to yourself, “My new supervisor is not my enemy. She sees my mistakes because I am not perfect, and she has had the courage to warn me rather than to ignore them. I will thank her for that and encourage her to monitor my work. I will not hide or avoid her. I will speak with her to get instructions clear. I know that words are ambiguous and that misunderstanding is the rule; therefore, I will ask what and how questions for clarification. Also I will paraphrase what I have been told to make sure I understand when things are complex. I will ask her to review and evaluate my work and if she sees mistakes, I will praise her for that. I will do everything in my power to make her look good. I will not gossip with coworkers or allow me to say she has double standards and makes mistakes herself. Doing that is exactly what I don’t want her to do to me.”

What I am suggesting is that you should talk differently to yourself. Stop seeing yourself as a victim who must seek a job elsewhere because previous for to this warning for five years you liked your job and received good performance evaluations. That is in your corner and a new supervisor can’t quickly say your positive record was wrong. Should you actively look for another job? In my opinion, it is not wrong to scan possibilities for work elsewhere; but if you make that a high priority it will detract from focusing on how to deliver the best possible product/service of you can.

Sometimes distress causes us to ask ourselves if where we are job-wise is just in a job or are we on a career path? Do we have the right kind of training to progress where we are employed now? Should we explore other positions within our current organization to widen our experience? What’s out there that we might love to do rather than just to have a job?In your case you are at a point in time to ask these questions, and moreover should you be right that your supervisor wants to get rid of you, you can seek her counsel about developing a career path; one in which you reflect on your skills, job interests, training needed and possibilities within your work organization.

Rather than assume or conclude she wants you to fail, think in terms that she wants you to succeed and that she wants you to ask for advice in how you perform in your job now. If nothing else pretend that she wants for you what like she wants for herself, a career, not just a job. Does this make sense? You need a good talking to; talking to yourself. See beyond me, me, me. Talk to yourself about ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted energy, and wasted worry. Talk to yourself about ways to save the company money and how to delight your internal and external customers. Talk to yourself about how to be seen as a cheerleader and one who makes others jobs easier and more effective. Ask how my closing sentence applies to you and your current distress: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden