She’s Trying To Get Me Fired!

Question:

I work for a nonprofit organization at a location with another organization. Over the past several month’s a management member from the other organization has been trying to get me fired by: asking customer’s to write complaints about me, expressing in committee meetings my uncaring attitude about my job, calling me a little girl in these meetings, saying I’m doing childish thing’s like hiding thing’s from her, and her staff, letting my supervisor run my game, saying she can’t get a hold of me when she needs to, involving shared employees to the degree they are all walking on egg shells, asking her staff that is present to write notes about conversations they overheard which almost always in some way get special treatment for doing so.

I believe a select few are taking advantage of her control issues to get special treatment. Now she’s taking all of her made up and unsupported concerns to her boss who in turn is constantly going to mine. My boss is telling me that he’s aware she’s just trying to get me fired. The other day though I received word from my boss that they feel my supervisor of nine years is a big part of the problem and wants her let go even though she hasn’t had write ups or any disciplinary actions for the duration of her employment. He also wants me to hire someone with a manager’s license as my new supervisor and backup manager.

I believe that my employment will end as soon as this new person is trained. This woman is never even present at my game time. I believe she’s a bully and uses bullying tactics in the work place. My stress level has been thru the roof for months now it’s affecting my job performance, my home life, and my health. I’ve in the last three weeks I’ve experienced panic attacks, depression, irritable bowels, and insomnia. The inability to not constantly prepare for the next attack has made me overly sensitive and very reactionary along with being constantly fearful for my job, I would love to just quit, but financially it is impossible. We have four young children. I work three days a week. To make what I do at this job, I would have to take full time work that isn’t an option considering they are out of school, and we couldn’t afford the daycare.

Signed,

Just Plain Tired


Answer:

Dear Just Plain Tired:

I can tell that you are both frustrated and angry about the situation. It seems to me that there are several issues that might help you develop a plan of action. It may be difficult to become more aggressive about protecting yourself, but it appears your job is not very secure anyway. You may have nothing much to lose by taking a more active approach to stating your case.

The organizational layout seems a little confusing to me, but I assume your organization contracts with another one. The most important chain of command for you is the one in the organization that hired you and can fire you. Focus your efforts on convincing them through your words and work, that anything negative that has been said about you is untrue and motivated by something you don’t understand. Prepare a package of material that states your case and ask for their help in knowing how to deal with this issue.

1. If it is true that a management member of the organization where you work has been dishonest and unfair in her dealings with you over this long a time, that indicates a bad attitude and poor management by that person. You mention her requests to customers, staff, shared employees and so forth. Someone must be informing you of these things. The first thing for you to do is make a list of the people who could verify that she has behaved in an unprofessional and unfair way. Every person who has told you of her underhanded tactics should be listed. List who it is, what they said and when they said it. Ask to have them contacted to verify that you are the victim of unfair treatment.

2. If you receive evaluations, refer to those to show that your supervisors think well of you. If you have had successes at work, have done a good job, have come to work on time, handled your tasks and been effective, describe that briefly so they can see that you are a valuable employee. No organization wants to replace a valuable employee just because someone from a contracting company doesn’t like them. They might remove you from contact with that person, but you could still retain your employment.

3. I’m not clear about how you could hire someone to be your manager. And I may not be understanding whom you are writing about when you mention that new person. You said,

“He also wants me to hire someone with a manager’s license as my new supervisor and back-up manager. I believe that my employment will end as soon as this new person is trained. This woman is never even present at my game time. I believe she’s a bully and uses bullying tactics in the work place.”

I don’t know if you are again referring to the manager from the other organization or to someone you think is being hired to supervise you. And, I do not know why you think you will be fired when the new person is trained unless that person will be trained to take your place.

If you have been told to identify someone for the job or work with a personnel section to hire someone, consider using this situation as a way to bring that subject up and simply ask. “I’m happy to be part of that, but I would like to know my job status. Am I doing well? Is there something more you think I should be doing or something else you prefer? Are the remarks that are being made, jeopardizing my job? It would really help me if I had an idea if I have a future here. But it would especially help me if I knew if you think there is something I could do to make my future more secure.”

4. The issue about your organization wanting to fire someone who has never had a documented problem may either indicate that you do not know the full background or that your organization also has problems with unfair tactics! Whatever the case, that is a situation that person will need to deal with on her own. You may find things WILL be better for you if she is replaced.

5. The final thing you need to do is to self-evaluate to determine if there is any truth at all to the complaints of the manager. Can you honestly say that you have been the best possible employee? Is there any areas in which you need to improve? Considering any written material you have received about job requirements, are you fulfilling all of them? Have you talked to your supervisor about the matter, either directly or indirectly, to find out if there is anything you can do to show your value to others? Are co-workers happy with your support for them? Do customers and clients have reasons to commend you rather than to complain? (If someone is doing excellent work it is not easy to get others to lie about that person. But if customers and clients have complained, they may feel they are being helpful to be honest and open about their concerns.) Even if you feel there are gaps between what is wanted and what you have been doing, you can use that to say that you have done a self-evaluation and want to improve.

6. Sometimes all a manager needs to hear is that an employee knows there is improvement needed and that the employee is going to work on it, because they want to stay in the job. If you don’t feel there are improvements needed, it still is helpful to blatantly say, “I want to keep this job. I need it for my family. I am trying to do it well. I would appreciate your help to let me know any way I can ensure that I do excellent work.” Let your manager know how important it is for you to do well and to stay working.

7. None of this may specifically help your stress symptoms, but when you feel more like an active part of a plan to get to the truth, rather than being victimized by unfair treatment, you will find yourself much less stressful. It may be that this employment is not going to work for you. You cannot control the actions of your organization and it may be that things have gone too far to be repaired. You may have to find another job that would allow you about the same work schedule. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

If you want to continue working in your current organization it seems to me that you must take some decisive action on your own or wait for someone else to decide your fate. I would want to at least make a push to state my case and ask for feedback, either to allow you to improve or to give you reassurances that the actions by the people in the other organization will be viewed as less credible than YOU are.

If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how this develops. Best wishes as you confront these issues.

Working with others takes talent, consideration, and courtesy. Hopefully, you can do your part and assert that others do theirs to create a spirit we call WEGO. Follow Up: I recently received your reply to my question. I wanted to say thank you for your advice. I had some customer’s write out their thought’s on my session’s which I forwarded to my boss it gave him a different perspective of the going’s on in regard’s to this other manager. We together came up with a plan to show where the issues are originating. It was great in his opinion to see some good comment’s that were not anonymous as the complaints all were. The woman he was trying to get me to hire was found to be a good friend to this other manager she after interviewing with me decided to decline the job she was under the impression I’d be leaving. When my boss spoke with her he realized this was just another underhanded trick to undermine me. Thing’s are improving. I did have a couple more question’s though this other manager gave my home phone number out to an applicant is this even legal? My boss, with everything going on, has told me I have to be present at all of my game time. The department of justice, who issues my license, says I have to be there 50% of this time. They also give us a 30-hour limit a week in which to do all duties. Our average actual game time is approximately. 27 hour’s a week. That only leave’s me 3 hour’s to complete all my duties. Last week I worked over by 11 hours that I can get in trouble for. Not to mention I can’t get paid for more than 30 hours. I could notify the dept. but fear making an issue out of anything right now would result in loosing my job. Thanks again, Not So Tired Now

It would be beneficial to know the type of employment to which you refer. You mention the department of justice and also “game time” and “games.” I am not familiar with any Department of Justice licensing and wonder if you are referring to a state license of some kind. We would hold that in confidence, of course.

As far as someone giving out your phone number to an applicant, there is no legal issue involved, but certainly a personal issue for you. Have you been asked if you minded that? You may want to ask them to stop doing it, since business should be conducted during business times.

Regarding work hours, keep documentation of the hours, so you can use that if necessary to show that there are issues that go far past any complaints they might have about you. On the other hand, you should not be donating your work. Before you complain about it however, you would want to verify that you understand the policies correctly. If you have a Human Resources section, perhaps they have written material that would be helpful.

Again, the situation seems very unusual, so knowing the type of job to which you refer might clarify things if you chose to provide it.

It sounds as though you are doing the right thing by getting statements to show that you are doing a good job, which certainly has more credibility than anonymous complaints. Keep this in mind: Someone has to be the decision maker about your job. Once you know who the decision maker is, you can focus on ensuring that person is satisfied with your work. If he or she thinks you have value to the organization and that they don’t want to replace you, they will find out the truth as a way to justify their decisions. Your job is to be and do the best you can in every area.

That’s one reason I mentioned the self-evaluation. Look at every aspect of your work–your verbal communications, written communications, work product, appearance, attitude and citizenship within the organization. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, according to how you think the other manager would rate you in those categories and why. Then, rate yourself according to how an outsider might see you and your work. Consider having a friend at work rate you as well, in a helpful way. List your strengths, then list the areas in which you need to develop–and work to develop in those areas.

Verbal communication: Do you speak clearly, concisely, appropriately and in a way that is helpful? Any speech habits that are distracting? Is your facial expression communicating your professionalism?

Written communication: Do you need to write emails and memos or complete reports? If so, is your spelling correct? Do you use a spell-checker? Do you write appropriately for the occasion? If people were going to judge you by your written work, what would they see?

Overall work product: Do you do what you are paid to do, to a high standard? Would you be very difficult to replace?

Appearance: Do you represent the organization and yourself in the most positive way by your personal appearance?

Attitude: Are you motivated and positive in your approach? Do others feel better when you are around?

Citizenship in the organization: Do you look for ways to be helpful to others? Do you take personal responsibility for helping things work well?

Those are among the types of questions we all should ask now and then, but especially when it seems we are in the middle of conflict.

As I said, it seems you are doing the right things for the situation at this point. Maintain your focus and keep professional relationships well maintained. They can certainly be helpful!

Second Follow Up I run a bingo game. Since it is gambling, it’s regulated by the Department of Justice. You have to apply and be given a license to manage a game. The organization itself cannot run without a licensed manager.



I had thought perhaps you were referring to bingo, since you mentioned games, so I appreciate the verification. You are likely referring to a state Department of Justice, such as in California where the Division of Gambling Control licenses bingo, and that Division is in the California Department of Justice. Bingo is licensed by states and sometimes municipalities. The United States Department of Justice is a federal department that is not involved in licensing and that was what I thought you were referring to at first.

I only say that to clarify the matter for both of us. It doesn’t really matter who does the licensing, if you are dealing with an unpleasant situation!

I will say this, as a result of working around bingo games for a considerable length of time in my history–never as a direct worker, however–that they are often places of conflict. It seemed to me that the employees or managers were unhappy with each other all of the time. There was a lot of gossip and backstabbing going on! You may be suffering from the culture of the environment even though you are doing a good job.

I still stick by my original thoughts that if you are doing the right work at the right time in the right way, and there is no documentation to show otherwise, you will prevail. I also still think the key is your direct manager within your own organization. If he is convinced of your value, he will want to keep you working for his company.

I haven’t mentioned trying to repair the problem with the other manager because my experience has been that once things have gone this far; it is almost impossible to resolve the conflict. However, it may be that at least a truce could be developed. If you think that is possible you may sometime want to have a discussion with the manager and express your concerns about what you feel is happening. Tell her how important the job is to you and ask her if there are specific things that would make her happier with your work there. That may not be possible because of the circumstances, but if it is you may find it useful to at least show that you made the effort.

Thank you again for the update and I’ll be hoping for the best!

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.