Managers Talk About Employees Openly

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gossip of manager and assistant:

We have a manager and an assistant manager. They get together daily at the manager’s cubicle and talk about different employees. They laugh and talk bad about them and even discuss their leave balances. This can even be heard several aisles over. They drop names so we all know who they are talking about. What happened to the “privacy act”? I find it hard to respect these managers. I even heard them talking about my sick leave today. This was loud enough for everybody to hear. It is very sad and it is not good for morale!

Signed, Pleading for Privacy

Dear Pleading for Privacy:

I wonder if anyone has ever said anything to either the manager or assistant manager about this? Surely someone has complained. I would have thought you would if they were discussing your medical leave! On the other hand, I realize that sometimes it is difficult to confront a boss, no matter much you might want to do so.It may be that the manager feels her cubicle is private enough that no one can overhear. But, whether she thinks that or not it seems her conversations show poor judgment and are not designed to help the business but rather to make fun of employees.If you have a manager and assistant manager you probably have a business that is large enough to have someone over those people–or large enough to have an HR section. This should be reported to them, with a signature or anonymously.

Document what is being said. Go back in time for a week or so if you can remember those conversations. Then, go forward a couple of times to document those. List what time it was, how long the conversations took place and what was said. Use a few quotes if possible, to fully describe how bad it is. Give a list of all those working at the time and ask that each person be interviewed to find out if this happens often and how disturbing it is. Put your own name on that list to see if they contact you.Then, submit the documentation to HR or to a higher level manager, preferably two levels up at least, if there is one.In the accompanying letter, which you may or may not sign, say that you and other employees find this frequent kind of conversation to be inappropriate and you want it investigated and made to stop. It’s amazing what can be accomplished by asking that something be investigated and made to stop, rather than only complaining and hoping something happens.

If you don’t request the investigation it is easy for someone to say they didn’t realize how serious the complaint was.If nothing happens you are no worse off than before. But I believe something WILL happen. It might only be that your boss is talked to about it. But, I’ll bet that would calm things down a bit.Those are your only two choices, really.

1.) Speak up and tell the boss it’s awful to hear conversation about fellow employees and could she please lower her voice or talk elsewhere.

2.) Ask someone higher up to intervene and stop the situation.

Best wishes as you work through this and try to stay positive and strong. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.