I Peeked

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss talks about coworkers:

My boss talks to me a lot about my co-workers and problems he is having with them. I feel uncomfortable about this but want to stay on his good side so I don’t say anything about it. I recently noticed he was acting differently towards me. I’m not sure why but then a co-worker told me “to watch my back as the boss was after me”. I then saw a file on his desk (out in the open is his work space and the file was right there). I looked in the file and saw a list of minor things that had occurred over the last week; such as I questioned a process, etc. I know I should not have looked in this file but that’s done now. What should I do now? Why is he writing these things down about me? I like the job a lot, but just don’t know how to handle the boss. He turns on everyone and many people within the large company have told me to watch out for he is a big problem for many.

Signed, Wary

Dear Wary:

You nosed into something that was your boss’s business and you don’t like what you learned. Moreover one coworker told you to watch your back. So now that you know your boss is keeping tabs on you, what will you do differently other than to feel guilty and worry? You have a choice: to fess up; telling your boss that you looked over the file he’s keeping on you and you want to know why, or you can keep your mouth shut, never telling anyone and especially him, what you saw. A third choice is to gossip with coworkers about how your boss is not to be trusted and tell them you are watching your back. Do any of these choices seem good to you?

Or you can continue to do your job to the best of your ability just as you were before you knew he was logging your every mistake. And because you know that you will attend more carefully to instructions and will keep your communication lines open with him; checking to learn what he expects. You might also explore what other jobs are open to you within and outside the company.

If you follow the continue-to-do-your-best choice, you would be wise not to obsess about the fact that you looked into his file on you. Also you would be wise to perform your job as if you owned the company; and simply forget about being wary about your boss. Learn as much as you can. Be of good cheer. Offer to do what will make others and your boss’s job easier. Think, as I recommend: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. In short avoid working scared. Avoid gossip and believing all that others tell you. What’s the worse that could happen to you? Whatever that is, you will survive and if fired you can find another job.

William Gorden