Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a hostile associate.
At work I had an associate say, “I can do anything I want!” This was in response to me asking the associate if he could please ask me before throwing away customer samples. My answer to this statement was that we needed to talk to a manager. His response was, “Why? You think that will scare me? What do you think they’re gonna do!”
This associate became very hostile, so I left to find a manager. I was asked by management to write a statement in detail, which I did, and I stated I could not work in the same room as the associate. The next day, I spoke with HR and was forced to defend myself, though HR told I I had done nothing wrong. Are there procedures that managers must follow under employment law when they receive a complaint such as this? I am afraid to work with this associate. He seems to think he can get away with anything and management appears to be proving him correct. I would like to know that their handling of the situation is being done correctly.
Guest Respondent, Dan Kearney, replies: First off, HR was correct in having you detail the events that occurred, in private. That pretty much is normal procedure in most companies. Management wants it on record. You were asked questions by HR most likely for clarification purposes to ensure HR understood the events as you described them. How management decides to handle the event is within management’s pervue. It’s none of your concern.
Secondly, how would you know if it is being handled “correctly.” That’s a matter of perception not reality. What concerns me is your assessment of the other person’s hostility and your fear of working with this person. What actions have this person committed that would instill fear in you? Lastly, reexamine the events from an outsider’s perspective. It may end up differently.
Follow UP: To Respondent: The associate I am referring to has had several incidents where he has shown his anger at me. I caught him using company computers for his personal accounts. Two people have been fired for this and he said that nothing would happen to him.The supervisor over both him and me I have told me that he and this associate have a plan to fix the department. The supervisor tried to pull me into this “special treatment” category. The supervisor wanted me to tell other associates in my department what to do. I did not do this because I am not a supervisor. However, this associate reminds us how nobody in our department does the work except for him and the supervisor. There is a more complex issue than just this recent incident. I was not sure how to explain it. However, if the fault is mine (highly doubtable), it would be in trying to give this associate a heads up to call the manager to let the manager know he had arrived at work so he would not get in trouble for a no show or being late.
And this is the reason HR has given me for the associate’s statements and behavior. Can’t Work With Him The answer by Dan Kearney should provide you with an HR perspective. The background issues of “catching” your coworker using his computer for personal matters should now be all you need to say. Apparently how you came across to him about that and other matters have not earned you good points. Nor has your refusal to “tell other associates” what to do as your boss asked. So if you want to continue to work where you are, you might well reflect on how you come across: as a “righteous soul” or as one genuinely interested in both your associates and your workplace?
Perhaps, for the time being you had best just play is cool; attend to your own work and put on your thinking cap to find ways to cut wasted supplies, energy, money and innovative ways to enhance the quality of what you do. That would make a big hit with almost any boss. How might you apply my signature thought: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS? –The Workplace Doctor
Dan Kearney, HR Manager