Supervisor Discusses Me With Coworkers

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about supervisor who drinks with subordinates and discusses performance of their coworkers:

I have a supervisor who goes out drinking with my coworkers (same unit as I am in and she is their supervisor as well.) She drinks with them and brings up my work performance to them. Our manager will not deal with this issue. What can I do

Signed, Talked About

Dear Talked About:

Some things for you to consider: *What has been said about you–is it good, bad or indifferent? *Does it happen a lot, or has it only happened once or twice? *What would cause your name to be mentioned at all in a social setting? *Are the things she’s saying very personal or are they general? *Are they true or is it made up? *How did you find out about it?Two other issues: *What did the person who is reporting all of it to you say about it when it happened? *Does your supervisor know that you know? If so, how has she reacted to that? Those are important because they give you something more to go on than a third hand report that is vague. But, it is certainly poor judgment for your supervisor to talk about any employee to the employee’s coworkers. So, anything that was said would in inappropriate.You could take several approaches about it:

1. Write your complaint to your manager, rather than only talking to him or her about it. When you put it in writing, give the names of witnesses and say that you are worried that her comments will hurt your ability to work effectively, you are far more likely to get action.

2. Talk directly to your supervisor and say that you heard about your name being mentioned. If you want to bring up something specific, do so. Otherwise, just leave it that you were embarrassed to be talked about and you’d rather she’d talk to you directly. Be open to that right then and there.

3. Talk to your supervisor and don’t mention the comments you’ve heard that she made. Instead, focus on wanting to do a better job and asking her assistance about that. If there is something specific she mentioned to others, discuss it with the intention of correcting it if that’s possible. She will know you heard about her remarks, but you won’t have to confront her about them.

4. If you are in an organization with an HR section or someone higher than your manager, consider going to them about it. That would be a last resort, but might be necessary according to the severity of the situation.

5. Talk to the person who is reporting to you and ask them to please stand up for you when something negative is said. Remind that person that if you’ve being talked about sometimes, THEY are probably being talked about as well.6. Consider also what it is that is being said. If it is something true that is having a negative effect on work (you are often late, you gossip, you aren’t pleasant to work with, you make many mistakes, etc.) maybe this is the time to correct those issues and let your complaint wait until you don’t justify criticism. I’m not saying that’s the case, but it is a thought.I think if I were you I would first talk to my friend who is reporting to me, then I would talk to my supervisor directly, but not specifically mentioning the remarks made about me. I would seek to build a better relationship with her and find ways to eliminate the reasons I’m being talked about.

If I couldn’t do that, I’d move it up a level and talk again to my manager or send him a memo in writing. If that didn’t work I’d go higher. But first, I’d make sure I’m doing the best work in the best way possible, so no one would easily believe anything negative about me anyway. That stops remarks better than anything.Best wishes as you work through this. 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.