Hostile Work Environment.

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about causing a hostile work environment:

My boss has indirectly stated that I am causing a hostile work environment. I have a coworker that is always telling her what I say and I have been called into her office to many times, the coworker is her pet. We all used to get along. 3 week ago she was made a backup lead, now we do not speak. She’s in the boss’ ear all the time. I do not want to lose my job over this. Please help.

Signed, What I Say

Dear What I Say:

So what do you say to your coworker who’s the boss’s pet? Why have you been called into the boss’ office many times? What specifically has she said about you causing a hostile work environment? How did you respond to your boss? Was she wrong about you? Obviously you feel that you might lose your job now that your former coworker has been made a led and you and she don’t speak. No one, and that includes the workplace doctors, can give you advice that will prevent you being fired. You can’t prevent that if your boss decides that you are irresponsible, don’t complete assignments satisfactorily, badmouth her in gossip, and do indeed cause a hostile work environment. And your boss should fire you if this is true of you.

I’ll assume that you are looking in the mirror to ask why you have been called in the office and are frustrated because some of the things she said aren’t true even if others are. Have you been defensive, saying I did or didn’t do that, or have you apologized and committed to correcting what you were accused of? Is it not time for straight talk between your boss and you– and no more of this indirect talk? We too often avoid those we think evaluate us negatively. My suggestions will be the opposite of that.

Therefore, without knowing as you do the details or context, here are several options for you to consider:Face up to how you come across to your boss, coworkers, and internal/external customers. Do you arrive at work early and stay past time when there is something yet to be done? Are you have good hygiene and are well groomed and business-like in appearance; someone your boss would not be ashamed of to have you out front to customers? Do you speak politely and warmly?

Request a meeting with your boss to get a performance evaluation. Learn what she wants from you and what she says you can do to correct them. Come to that meeting with specific questions and suggestions of how you might improve your performance, such as ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, and wasted energy. Come with ideas of how you might do your share to make her and your coworkers’ jobs easier and more effective. Most of all come with suggestions of how you and your office might delight those who get the products and services of your office. In short, come with a plan and request that your boss add her suggestions on what you can do to measure up to be the kind of worker she wants and that you want to be. Agree on a time for your boss to assess how well you are following this plan. This is to establish regular times you and your boss talk about your progress or failures.

This past week we received good news from one individual who had written us months ago that she was seen as a jerk in her workplace. This most recent email from her was proof that she no longer was seen that way. I recommend that you read the Q&A on our site titled Working Jerk Updated. I predict that months from now, we will also hear good news from you if you resolve to be no longer seen as causing a hostile environment. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden