Supervisor Discussing You With Coworker

Question:

Have your rights been violated when a supervisor tells a coworker about a meeting you had with personnel? The coworker has nothing to do with the meeting that had taken place a week ago. The supervisor told the coworker that I could possibly lose my job. The Supervisor did not talk to me. Please help me.

Signed,

Right/Wrong?


Answer:

Dear Right/Wrong?:

Underlying your question about rights is a more basic concern. You and your supervisor fail to communicate! Communication at its best is not talking about someone. It is not talking at someone. It is talking with someone. Your question to us suggests that you want to get back at your supervisor and that, if in fact she/he did gossip to your coworker about your meeting with personnel, you think she/he did not respect you enough to stay mum about that. Depending on what your policy book says about this matter and what is the ethical code and practice of your personnel department, your rights might have been violated. To the best of my knowledge, however unwise and unethical it is to gossip about someone seeing personnel and possibly losing her/his job, this is not a legal matter. I would not further involve your coworker by telling your boss or personnel that he/she said the supervisor disclosed that you met with personnel and said you possibly could lose your job. Nor would I assume that your supervisor did so maliciously. She/he may have, but also that gossip might not have been meant to hurt you.

You had best put behind you the anger you feel over your rights being violated and work on whatever it is that brought you to personnel and also on your relationship with your supervisor. One way to do that is to have a time-out meeting with your supervisor and to frankly do what is reasonable to resolve it. Rather than accuse your supervisor of gossiping about your meeting with personnel and telling a coworker of you possibly losing your job, such a meeting should focus on the “facts” and/or perception that provoked the meeting. If you are the cause of some mistake or intentional wrong, sincerely apologize and pledge to earn your place back to good standing. If it is not your fault or some misunderstanding, learn what it has brought you to this situation. See this as a problem-solving opportunity. Suppressed anger at your supervisor will not help developed a healthy boss-bossed working relationship.

What might? Have you looked in the mirror and faced how your supervisor sees you? Have you walked in his/her shoes? Have you performed your job as you would if you were boss? Have you made suggestions about how to cut wasted supplies, time, and money? Have you thought of your job as more than a paycheck? Perhaps to these questions you can answer, “Yes, I have and I’ve done more than my job required.” Whatever your answer, if indeed you want to be wanted, now probably is the time to confront where you stand and to learn if you can come to a positive working relationship.

Do these thoughts make sense to you? If not, I hope they will spur you to find others that will. Work is hard enough without personnel matters getting in the way. Can you see this whole matter as a learning situation? Can you determine from this day forward that you will be a problem solver? Can you find in my signature statement any meaning that applies to you? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden