My Duty Manager Threatens to Fire Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about threat to fire: My actual boss does not know that the duty managers have done this. What can I do and how do I approach my actual boss to tell him about this?

The duty manager in the kitchen where I work in has threatened to fire me three times. I work very hard in my job and it requires doing a lot of deep cleaning which they expect me to do by myself. If I ask for help, they speak to me very rudely. One of them is extremely sarcastic. I find this very had to deal with at times and have recently started getting very upset at work, which is when they threaten to fire me. My actual boss does not know that the duty managers have done this. What can I do and how do I approach my actual boss to tell him about this?

Signed, Threatened

Dear Threatened:

You don’t say how you responded to your duty manager’s threat. Did you ask what you were doing wrong? Did you say, “This job takes deep cleaning and I need help?” Possibly you talked back, “I work hard and do good work. I wish you would respect that.” Did you ask why the duty manager has threatened to fire you? You say that the threat to fire you was when you got upset over their criticism. That’s understandable. Criticism by one’s superior is stressful.

How might you approach this: The next time a duty manager criticizes you, you can respond by asking him to go with you to talk about this with your actual boss or 2. You go alone to your actual boss to report these threats and how they upset you. I think it is already time to go to your actual manager. You will have to decide if and when you will approach him. To be threatened three times is ample cause for you to request a meeting.

Prepare for this meeting by making a list of the times you were threatened; who threatened and what was said by that individual, when and how you responded. Be as accurate as your memory permits. Also describe how hard you work and say that you get no help or thanks, if that is true. Request that your actual manager investigate. One way to begin such a meeting is to ask for a performance review. Say that you are working as responsibly as you can and yet you are criticized and threatened.Possibly deep cleaning should not be only yours to do.

If several others were assigned to take turns at it, including the duty manager, all those assigned to deep cleaning would get some respect. This might be a suggestion that you could present to your actual boss. Also, duty managers sometimes fail to realize how difficult a job is and have learned to manage by threats.They probably need managing training. Let’s suppose that a meeting with your boss doesn’t stop the criticism or threats to fire you. Be prepared for that.

Bad bossing is a habit and is not easily transformed to supportive managing. You may need to speak up in your own behalf. If so, do so frankly but in good spirit, such as, “I know you mean well, and I want to do a good job just as you want me to do. But I work better if you can help me correct what I’ve done wrong and show me ways to be more effective.”

The core ideas underlying good managing are: make criticism specific and correct them collaboratively. Moreover, as Aristotle suggested long ago, to praise someone is akin to urging a course of action. In short, most of us will do more of what we are praised for. I expect that is true of deep cleaning as well as other things.

Meanwhile, look in the mirror. Ask if you are happy and cheerful in your job. If not, think of ways you might see the larger picture; one of having the cleanest kitchen possible and making your workplace one where customers could eat off the floor. See the big picture. Just as you are stressed over blame, don’t criticize your duty manager. Rather do your best to make his/her job easier. Look beyond your job to ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted money. See the big picture of what will make your kitchen an employee friendly, customer pleased place.Also if you are not happy with the place or kind of work you do, seek training for a job you might like more.

Work is hard and a life is long if you are unhappy in your job. And while  you are thinking about the problem with your duty manager, try not to gossip about him or allow his threats rumble about in your head. Fill your mind with music you can hum and ideas that can make others and your own life a little bit more meaningful. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. By that I mean do what you reasonably can to boost the spirit of all those with whom you work.

William Gorden